Blogoversary Guest Post: A Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

I'm excited for you guys to learn a little bit more about Sylvia and her debut book from last year,
The Midnight Queen! I read this last December and loved it!! You can see my review here.

The sequel comes out later this year and I'm really looking forward to it!
In the meantime, enjoy this guest post on The Midnight Queen's magick...

The Midnight Queen (Noctis Magicae, #1)The Midnight Queen
(Noctis Magicae #1)
by Sylvia Izzo Hunter
YA Historical, Fantasy, Paranormal
Paperback417 Pages
September 2nd 2014 by Ace Trade


In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…

Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace—and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.

Even though she has no talent of her own, Sophie Callender longs to be educated in the lore of magick. Her father has kept her isolated at the estate and forbidden her interest; everyone knows that teaching arcane magickal theory to women is the height of impropriety. But against her father’s wishes, Sophie has studied his ancient volumes on the subject. And in the tall, stammering, yet oddly charming Gray, she finally finds someone who encourages her interest and awakens new ideas and feelings.

Sophie and Gray’s meeting touches off a series of events that begins to unravel secrets about each of them. And after the king’s closest advisor pays the professor a closed-door visit, they begin to wonder if what Gray witnessed in Oxford might be even more sinister than it seemed. They are determined to find out, no matter the cost…


"The gods' gift, and their curse": 
Magic in The Midnight Queen
By Author Sylvia Izzo Hunter

When I first began writing this book, I knew a lot about the protagonists, Sophie Callender and Gray Marshall, but very little about the world they lived in. One thing I knew very early on, though, was that the magic in this world was not going to be occult; I wanted to write about a society in which the use of magic is widespread (but not universal), ordinary, and perfectly respectable. Actually, in many ways the magick of the Midnight-verse is a direct analogue to the science of our own world (the glaring exception being that you are born with magick or you aren’t, whereas the ability to do science doesn’t really work like that). Magick is a subject you learn as part of your education, a branch of knowlege you can take a university degree in, a domain with both practical and theoretical branches—and, of course, an area in which women are perfectly capable, but must fight to be taken seriously by men.*

As I worked on building Gray and Sophie’s world, I made some other decisions about its magical aspects: I didn’t want the magic to depend on accessories (such as wands or talismans); I wanted it to have ancient roots, and to be compatible with prevailing religious practices (in this case, the worship of a mostly but not entirely harmonious pantheon of Roman and Celtic deities); I wanted it to be mostly heritable, and to manifest to varying degrees and in varying ways in different people. Because no one person can do everything, the characters have to trust one another enough to use their complementary skills to good effect.

One of the slightly cranky ancient authors Sophie sneak-reads in her father’s library by night describes magic as “the gods’ gift to mankind, and their curse.” The ways in which magic is a gift are obvious: you can use it to do really amazing, miraculous things, up to and including saving someone’s life. But why is it a curse? Well, for a start, using magic can be dangerous (how dangerous, we discover along with Sophie over the course of the book). For someone who has powerful magic, it’s also a temptation to a wide variety of abuses of that power—and a magnet for those who don’t have such power themselves but would very much like to control someone else’s. And, like many forms of power in our own world, magic (and anyone who can wield it) can be made into a weapon of war.

Magic doesn’t work the same way for everyone everywhere, and there are various theories as to why this should be so. Are different flavours of magic the gifts of different gods? (Remembering that the gods of this world are neither omniscient or necessarily benevolent, and are quite likely to have done things for the sheer entertainment value or, you know, just to see what happens.) How much of the character of magic is inherited, and how much is down to Fortune or the Fates?

Why magic works in the way(s) it does is a mostly academic debate. (By which I mean both that it takes place among academics and that it doesn’t have a lot of practical effect on most people’s lives.) But there’s a much more practical argument happening in this world at the same time (which is hinted at in the Prologue), about how magic should be used by the people who possess it: given that magic can be used for so many useful purposes, is it fair for mages to keep their talent to themselves by choosing a life of scholarship? And if you have significant power, how do you decide what is and is not a “worthy” use of it?

One form of magic that exists in the Midnight-verse is a direct outgrowth of some of the most powerful experiences of my own life. I’m an amateur musician; I play a couple of instruments after a fashion, but mainly I sing. For the past thirty years or so I’ve sung in choirs (big, small, and middle-sized, from the very amateur to the semi-professional), and I honestly think some kind of magic process happens when a group of people work together to create something complicated and beautiful. (And look: Other people think so too!) If it seems like there’s a lot of singing in this book, that’s why.

*But note that this last point is subject to regional variations: in the next book in this series, LADY OF MAGICK, we’ll spend some time in a neighbouring kingdom that takes a different view.

About the Author

Author photo by Nicole HiltonSylvia Izzo Hunter was born in Calgary, Alberta, back in the days before Star Wars, and started making up stories at approximately the time she learned to talk. A couple of decades ago she moved to Toronto, Ontario, where she now lives with her husband and daughter and their slightly out-of-control collections of books, comics, and DVDs. She studied English and French literature (with a particular focus on medieval and Renaissance poetry and drama) at York University; she has since discovered that her mom was right: in order to be a functioning grown-up, you really do need to know how to do math.

Over the course of her working life Sylvia has been a slinger of tacos, a filer of patient charts and answerer of phones, a freelance looker-up of unconsidered trifles, an Orff-singing stage monk, and an exam tutor, but has mostly worked in not-for-profit scholarly publishing, where she started out making lots of photocopies and now gets to make XML and EPUB files (which is more fun). She also sings in two choirs (including the Orpheus Choir of Toronto), reads as much as possible, knits (mostly hats), and engages in experimental baking.

Sylvia’s favourite Doctor is Tom Baker, her favourite pasta shape is rotini, and her favourite Beethoven symphony is the Seventh.

Other Books by the Author
(I'm really looking forward to finding out what happens in the next book in this series.)

LadyOfMagickLady of Magick
(Noctis Magicae #2)
by Sylvia Izzo Hunter
YA Historical, Fantasy, Paranormal
September 1st 2015 by Ace


Sylvia Izzo Hunter brought “both rural Brittany and an alternative Regency England to vivid life”* in The Midnight Queen, her debut novel of history, magic, and myth. Now, in her new Noctis Magicae novel, Sophie and Gray Marshall are ensnared in an arcane plot that threatens to undo them both.

In her second year of studies at Merlin College, Oxford, Sophie Marshall is feeling alienated among fellow students who fail to welcome a woman to their ranks. So when her husband, Gray, is invited north as a visiting lecturer at the University in Din Edin, they leap at the chance. There, Sophie’s hunger for magical knowledge can finally be nourished. But soon, Sophie must put her newly learned skills to the test.

Sophie returns home one day to find a note from Gray—he’s been summoned urgently to London. But when he doesn’t return, and none of her spells can find a trace of him, she realizes something sinister has befallen him. With the help of her sister, Joanna, she delves into Gray’s disappearance, and soon finds herself in a web of magick and intrigue that threatens not just Gray, but the entire kingdom.

*National Bestselling Author Juliet Marillier


First Rafflecopter Giveaway (US & INT)
- $15 Amazon Gift Card
- Choice of ebook of Shifting Fate, Reign of Shadows, or King of Ash and Bone by Melissa Wright
- Audiobook of The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzio Hunter
- Choice of For Elise, Hope Springs, or As You Are by Sarah M. Eden
- Choice of Defy or Ignite by Sara B. Larson

Second Rafflecopter Giveaway (US Only)
Undeniably Yours & Meant to be Mine by Becky Wade (US Only)
- Signed paperbacks of the Fire and Thrones Series by Rae Carson (US Only)
- Signed hardcover of Now That You're Here by Amy K. Nichols (US Only)

Must be able to enter and receive winnings by law. Must be eligible for free shipping through Amazon or Book Depository or be able to receive the ebooks. You must be at least 13 years old to enter and have parental approval if under 18. Please ensure that you correctly enter your email (and check your junk mail folder if I'm not on your contact list) so that I have a way to contact you. You can read my giveaway policy on my policies page. Void where prohibited by law. Enter via the Rafflecopter below.

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  1. Oh these books sound so cute. They don't seem very YA though if book #2 the characters are married? o.O

  2. Great to get the author's insights into her book!

  3. This is another author and series I'm hearing about for the first time. I love the idea of being subversive and teaching women magic!

  4. These sound so very good, and both of the covers catch and hold my attention. I enjoyed the post very much!

  5. MyraLovingbooks2/21/15, 6:34 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing!
    The books sound very good :)

    Myra @ I'm Loving Books

  6. Congrats on you Blogversary! How FUN!
    I love Fantasy type books...especially kings, Queens, etc. This sounds fun...All these books sound very good!
    I am commenting on your Blogversary Giveaway posting.


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