Young Frederick Lincoln lives in an orphanage where older boys bully him and the director hates him. His only friend is Vardle the cook, who teaches him how to clean fish, sharpen knives, and tie knots. He also teaches him his letters.
Frederick is the type of boy who works hard to master the skills he’s learned. And unknown to him, he’s been befriended by a brownie named Billy Bly, who helps Frederick accomplish tasks and watches out for him. So when a man arrives to hire a footboy from whomever best fits a set of livery, life changes for Frederick. The clothes fit him as though they’ve been made for him. Off he goes to the home of Lord Schofield, a wizard rumored to grind men’s bones to make his bread. Instead Frederick finds good food, a warm bed, and satisfying work. And Billy Bly follows him from the orphanage.
Since brownies tend to cause trouble wherever they go, Lord Schofield isn’t happy that one has attached himself to Frederick. The wizard magically banishes Billy, leaving Frederick sad and lonely. But his work soon occupies him, and even earns him a new position—assistant valet to Lord Schofield. All because Frederick has an uncanny ability to tie a cravat that others can’t duplicate.
The end of the social season rolls around, and the household transfers to the country estate where Frederick learns much about wizards and magic. Because it seems the curse on the house that took eleven wizards to drive out has returned—at least a remnant of it—posing a threat to Lord Schofield. It takes help from Billy Bly and Frederick’s well-developed skills to defeat the remnant once and for all.
Frederick is an endearing eleven-year-old with charming innocence. He has to rely on Bess, a young maid, to teach him how things work in a grand estate, but it’s his own resourcefulness that helps him succeed. Magic Below Stairs is an enjoyable read with a fun character to cheer for. And, yes, Lord Schofield is Thomas from Sorcery and Cecelia fame, the first novel in the historical fantasy series by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia C. Wrede. (And one of my favorites!)
Please join us on Wednesday for our interview with author Caroline Stevermer.