Hapenny Magick tells the story of Maewyn, a young Hapenny (they remind me a little of Hobbits) who lives with her cruel guardian, Gelbane. Although Hapenny aren’t supposed to be magick, it turns out that Mae is. When other Hapennies start disappearing, Mae has to figure out how best to fulfill her responsibilities—does she stay in her village as is expected of her in the hope that her mother will return, or should she leave to study magick and possibly protect her home? In the end, she has to find the courage to step up and lead her village against the trolls to protect the Wedge where they live.
The illustrations are gorgeous, and they’re placed beautifully so that some plot points are revealed visually rather than textually. This is one book I’d choose hardcopy over ebook if only for that reason. This is a book that’s been illustrated, not a book that happens to have illustrations.
Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid
Maewyn suffers some physical and plenty of emotional abuse at the hands of Gelbane—for instance, Mae is put in shackles when she leaves without permission. She gets kind of banged up when she escapes from Gelbane, but she also manages to kick Gelbane hard in the nose. The trolls are definitely out to eat the Hapennies, and they remind them of this whenever possible. In the end, Mae turns a troll into a statue and turns Gelbane into a tree—it’s not exactly violent, but it’s definitely vengeance.
Two characters die before story starts, although we don’t find out right away. When we do, there’s not a ton of fanfare around it. I suppose to some extent the characters are only realizing what on some level they already knew.
Callum is a kitchen wizard, which is rare for a male wizard. He gets some grief for that, and even as an adult he doubts his abilities. However, in the end, his creativity allows him to be powerful in defeating the trolls. Mae, smallest of the Hapennies, becomes Protector of the Wedge—at first people doubt she can even be magick, but then they’re glad that one of their own is finally going to be the protector. The supposedly helpless Hapennies unite to fight the trolls, armed with the tools of their trades—sewing needles, pitchforks, etc. Together they defeat the much more powerful trolls.
Mae’s friendship with her best friend Leif becomes a little more, but it’s all sweet and innocent. This is a good thing, seeing as she’s 12 and he’s 14.
Mae feels that she must be obedient, even when it’s not in her best interest. She stays with Gelbane because she believes it’s what her mother wanted her to do. The other Hapennies don’t interfere, even though she’s treated horribly and any of them would have taken her in if asked. Maewyn is surprised to learn that Aletta broke the rules by entering the Wedge as a pig to better keep an eye on things, but Aletta tells her that sometimes rules are made to be broken.
By the end of the novel, people are questioning expectations in good ways, looking for new and better ways to move forward. In many ways, it’s expectations that the characters have of themselves that hold them back—once they’re willing to push beyond their self-perceptions, they can accomplish great things. In fact, there are hints that Maewyn is not so unusual by having Hapenney magick.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s a sweet story of finding courage within yourself to face the things you need to. The book itself is beautiful. My daughter hasn’t even read it yet and she’s entranced by it. It’s probably aimed primarily at younger readers, but as I mentioned, I really enjoyed it so I’d say it’s appropriate for any age. It’s especially appropriate for precocious readers—this is exactly the kind of book I was looking for a few years back for my daughter. I look forward to reading Jennifer Carson’s other books.
My daughter read this recently and she loved it. She read it in two days, staying up way too late on the last night—but as soon as Mae was kidnapped by the trolls, she just couldn’t put it down! I humored her, and I don’t regret it. I have fond memories of the books I just had to finish, and I’m glad this will be one of those books for my girl.
Hapenny Magick by Jennifer Carson
Published in 2011 by Pugalicious Press
There’s a sequel in the works
Read my hard copy