Author: Kelly Barnhill
Book: The Unlicensed Magician
Published: March 2016
Publisher: PS Publishing
Every quarter century, the Boro Comet returns. Every quarter century magical children are born. The Minister’s people collect the children and ship them to the Tower. There they are worked until they are dead. Sparrow was one of twenty children born that year. She didn’t survive her birth. While those born with her went to the Minister’s Tower, she was thrown on the rubbish heap. But this dead child was more clever than those she was born with. A drunken junk dealer found her body, and she regenerated before his eyes. He didn’t understand what happened but knew he must protect the child from the Minister. With the help of some friends, he managed to keep Sparrow’s existence a secret.
However, Sparrow can’t stay a child forever. As she grows, so does her magic—so does her understanding of the magic of the Boro Comet. All the while, the Minster’s people are hunting for this unlicensed magician.
This novella is a departure from the action adventure stories I usually favor. The flavor is more of a parable. The story jumps back and forth by chapters from when Sparrow was young to Sparrow in the present day as her story reaches it’s climax. I usually find this type of story telling too jarring for my tastes. Sparrow is a heart warming character. Like the characters in the novella, it’s hard not to love her. I wouldn’t call this a page turner. It is a pleasant story of a dystopian world against the power of a young, unlicensed magician’s love.