Top positive review
An Original and Delightful Story
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on July 28, 2011
***NOTE MY REVIEWS OFTEN CONTAIN SPOILERS***
On a snowy winter's night ten years past two special children were born. In a small apartment in the Ramblings Sarah Heap gave birth to the seventh son of a seventh son and she named him Septimus Heap. However after having been examined by the midwife he stopped breathing and the midwife proclaimed him dead, whisking him away before anyone could double check her findings. In the castle the queen gave birth to a little girl, in infant princess. But her moment of joy was interrupted when an assassin burst into the room killing the queen and the Extraordinary wizard, leaving the wizard's apprentice to protect the baby from the assassin determined to kill the child too. She keeps the child hidden for ten long years having placed in her plain sight in the wizard family who had lost their own child that very night. But things cannot stay hidden forever and after ten years the princess is discovered, uprooting her adoptive family, the new ExtraOrdinary Wizard and a unfortunate Young Army Recruit -Boy 412 who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time in a break neck journey to escape and protect the princess from the Supreme Custodian and his master the Necromancer and former ExtraOrdinary Wizard DomDaniel from finishing what they started ten years before. Will they save the young princess? Will they stop DomDaniel and just who is his young apprentice who seems to have no magical talent whatsoever?
This is the second time I've read this novel and just like the first I absolutely loved this novel. I'd give it a five stars, but I have to grudgingly admit that many of the important plot twists were a little predictable. Angie Sage has this narrator style voice which has a wonderful way of not telling a straightforward story. She doesn't contain her ramblings to the plot but instead ventures off on random tangents, or at least tangents that seem random when you're reading them. For most writers and most stories this would be distracting and would deter from the story. However, with Sage it works, her tangents add amusement to what might otherwise be a tense story. Her logic is off the wall but eventually ever random fact she shares add up to something logical. Her writing voice is distinctive and original.
While this did come out around the same time as the Harry Potter phenomenon, I still feel it's a very original story. Septimus Heap is no Harry Potter, he's a character unlike any I've seen grace the pages of another novel. And though there are some similarities between Heap and Potter as well as DomDaniel and Voldemort again I don't feel it's the same mostly because of the feel of the story. Rowling writes a mostly dark, but engaging fantasy story while Sage takes a lighthearted approach involving many other characters and subplots. Rowling somewhat placed her story in the modern world while Sage creates a world all her own. You can't deny the similarities however Magyk the first novel in the Septimus Heap saga still manages to remain an original but exciting and humorous plot. What's nice about Sage's story as opposed to Rowling's is that while Rowling's features a young adult character but engages a more adult vocabulary and theme, Sage keeps an upbeat children's style story that yes also includes a young adult lead, but also includes a young adult vocabulary and silly additions to the plot which will appeal to children. Don't get me wrong I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, but from page one I had trouble viewing the series as children's books, I felt the only thing that made them fit into that genre was the age of the characters about which the story revolved. Septimus Heap still brings the magic and excitement but doesn't have the dark feel or those scenes that could bring nightmares to young minds. This series is one I can hand to my eight year old and not have to sit beside him helping him sound out the words while explaining what they mean. At the same time even though it's geared toward children it still manages to appeal to adults in a way that you don't mind reading the book multiple times provided you put some space between reading so as not to make it repetitive.
For the most part the story had a slow pacing, until you get the later chapters where the action picks up. The story is exciting but told in the round about silly manner with all sorts of extra information which I mentioned early, though it's humorous and interesting it does slow down the pacing quite a bit. However as I mentioned above this pacing actually works for the story and add to the appeal of reading it. This is one of those stories where the journey is just as exciting and enjoyable as seeing the good guy win at its ending.
Even the minor characters in this story are somewhat memorable and Sage ensures this by adding a section at the end where she informs the reader of just what happened to the smallest character mentioned in the novel thus answering any questions the reader might have had about them. It's hard not to like most of these characters from caring Princess Jenna to Irritable Marsha Overstrand. You're brought inside their minds, into the heart of who they are. No I won't say they are the deepest of characters, but it's a children's story and I don't think children's book characters are meant to have deep seated flaws and worries. None of them is perfect Marsha is bossy and a little self involved. Boy 412 is untrusting. Aunt Zelda is the world's worst cook. Silas is a little absent minded. Everyone has a flaw and everyone has a lot of good qualities. They're not incredibly deep but for this story I think that's all right. What's really important is that they're not only likeable, but memorable.
Though the book is the first in a series it includes a full story arc with a beginning, end and satisfying conclusion. It is so well wrapped up that like I mentioned above you get where are they now paragraphs on even minor characters. So you feel fulfilled after having reading it even though you miss the characters enough to want to continue reading the series. I love that she's created a series here not needed to rely on an open ending to keep them coming back, but instead feeling confident enough that her story and characters will be enough for readers to want to pick up her next title.
Overall if you can't tell I absolutely loved this book both times that I read it. I think it's the kind of book that will appeal to readers as young as first or second grade but also find a home with adult readers of fantasy who enjoys humorous turns in that fantasy. I know it has found a home on my bookshelves. I highly recommend adding it to yours.
Like I said above it's the first in a series by Angie Sage and personally I recommend the entire series to readers young and old.