I needed something fun and fluffy and light and a quick read. Burgis’s YA magical Regency novel Kat, Incorrigible perfectly hit the spot. Having recently been on a panel discussion about Regency fantasy at Worldcon, I’ve been thinking about the role that magic plays in this sub-genre. It can either be an analog of social rank and privilege, or a forbidden underlayer, or in rarer cases, a subverting force that acts openly across the formal structures of society. But that’s a discussion for a different time and place. In the world of Kat, Incorrigible, magic is of the “forbidden underlayer” kind unless one gains access to the strictly controlled and regulated version that operates as a kind of secret society among the upper crust. We also get the common theme of magic being a secretive “women’s practice” kept hidden from husbands and other male figures which it is presumed to be used to influence and protect against.
But all that operates in the background of Kat’s life. She’s more concerned with the ordinary non-magical problems of an unsympathetic step-mother and how to save her older sister from an unwanted marriage to a wealthy but possibly unsavory man. Kat is at the refreshingly delightful age where questions of romance and desire are among the nonsensical concerns of adults. Her attempts to harness her newly awakened magical powers to solve her family’s problems lie in the realm of action hero. It will be equally delightful to see her non-nonsense, all-speed-ahead, near-bullying approach to problem solving once she becomes older and the tangles she addresses touch her more personally.