The Non-Magical Declan Moore by Nathan Taylor

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I picked this up because it was an Aurealis Award Nominee for Young Adult Novel (2023) and quickly became hooked on the story of 17 year-old Declan, a young man who desperately wants to learn magic even though he has been tested as LAME, a person without magical powers. Destined to work a menial job, he instead applies to King’s College to be trained as a wizard, and is devastated when he is rejected. He is taunted by the school bully but his friend Ace stands by him. Then everything changes. His parents and other witches and wizards are encased in iron by the black coats, who pursue him. It seems that he does have magic powers, but they are too powerful to be contained. Narrowly escaping capture, he is rescued by a young woman, Ava, who carries a satchel holding magical objects. Danger faces him as he meets members of Kings College and tries to learn to control his magic.

The Non-Magical Declan Moore is an interesting combination of fast paced action with young adult main characters in the first part of the book, a slower paced section when Declan becomes depressive and introspective, and then an action packed conclusion. The plot as the black shirts try to grab Declan is very exciting, and it held my attention completely. Knowing  that action will follow Declan even when he is in the depths of despair about not being able to use his powers, I pushed through this slower section quickly and was rewarded with a thrilling conclusion with engrossing twists and turns. I became involved in the magic that could turn witches and wizards into stone statues and the threat that magic might have on the country. I also related to Declan's attempts to gain magic and although I would have liked to have seen more of Ace his best friend, and Ava the owner of a magical bag, I hope to meet them in the second of the series, A warlock in a cursed kingdom, which carries on the story.

Themes: Fantasy, Magic, Coming of age, Witches and wizards.

Pat Pledger