Click here to read reviewer Helen Hancox's take on A Distant Magic.
Mary Jo Putney released Stolen Magic>, the previous book in her series, in 2005. This tale of magical Guardians set in 18th-century England was spellbinding. I chose the next book in her series by chance, not consciously aware I had read and reviewed any of the author's work in the past. However, as I prepared to read it, I recalled the preceding book and hoped against all reason that Putney had repeated her wondrous fete of magic. Being a realist, I expected A Distant Magic to fall short as compared to the first. Such is often the case with successive books in most other series. Not this time. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was in error - this sequel is just as enthralling as its predecessor, and I enjoyed it just as much.
In Stolen Magic, set in 1748, Simon Malmain, Guardian bounty hunter, through a strange twist of fate became more magical and saved Meg, the woman who would become his wife, while attempting to subdue the evil rogue mage who had caused it all. A Distant Magic jumps forward to 1753 and the slave trade. Lord and Lady Falconer (Simon & Meg) are not the focal characters of this tale, though they will play a significant part in it. Lady Jean Macrae, sister to Simon's best friend, Duncan, is.
Jean had taken charge of four young empaths abducted from different parts of the world by the rogue mage Lord Drayton. Adding their powers to those stolen from two others, the evil Guardian boosted his already considerable magical powers to serve his own selfish and greedy needs. Before being freed by Simon and Meg, this ruthless theft of their minds and powers caused the four great pain and suffering. Only Jean's kind treatment of these youths, not much more than children, helped them with their recovery and saved them from total emotional destruction. Now, Jean and her lady's maid, Annie, set sail from London to attend their weddings in Marseilles.
For all her life, Jean has been content to be the lesser-endowed member of the Macrae clan by way of magical talents. Since losing her first and only true love in "the Rising seven years earlier, when Bonnie Prince Charlie had upended the lives of her and much of Scotland," she has resolutely settled into the role of spinster aunt. Soon after the two weddings unites her four young friends, however, all that will change. Fate seems to have plans for her and her unknown powers which take her and the dark, mysterious stranger who inserts himself into her life on a mission completely unexpected and brought about through an eerie, unconnected series of coincidences - or so it at first seems.
To enjoy A Distant Magic, it's not necessary to have read the previous book in the series. It stands alone, nicely enough. Putney had written a well-paced magical tale that brings the timeline of the history of the slave trade alive. She weaves a tapestry tracing one of man's most sinister misuses of his fellow man for his own capitalistic gain, leading us from the coast of Africa to Australia, the British Isles, the Bahamas, Jamaica, England, and the New World (America).
Her magical tale embodies the essence of the deed and the events which followed because of it: the evils inherent, the opposers, the supporters, the politics for it, and the fears about ending it. All this and more, including the introduction of one who would risk much in order to enlist the aid of the most unlikeliest of revolutionaries, arriving in a thrilling, yet unimagined mode of travel. The most intriguing twists concern how artfully she takes us along that timeline and how exciting she makes the trip. Once again, she has done a fantastic job. Bravo, Ms. Putney!
I enthusiastically give A Distant Magic 5 out of 5 stars for this magical work. It makes the perfect vacation companion and a great summer read!