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Magic Below Stairs (Cecelia and Kate #4)

3.56  ·  Rating Details  ·  687 Ratings  ·  111 Reviews
Young Frederick is plucked from an orphanage to be a footboy for a wizard named Lord Schofield in Victorian England. Is his uncanny ability to tie perfect knots and render boots spotless a sign of his own magical talent, or the work of Billy Bly, the brownie who has been secretly watching over him since he was little? No matter, for the wizard has banished all magical crea ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published June 10th 2010 by Dial
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Maureen E
by Caroline Stevermer

Opening line--"The first time he met Billy Bly, Frederick thought he must be dreaming. Billy Bly looked like a little old man dressed all in green, and came just to Frederick's knee."

This is a hard book for me to review. Essentially the problem is that I'm too old for it (*tear*) and I've read the other Kate and Cecy books. Because of that I felt impatient with the Frederick person, who kept hogging up the space and keeping Kate and Thomas away. The writing, while definitely
Aug 14, 2012 Elevetha rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of Regency set books and shows
Recommended to Elevetha by: Miss Clark
Set in the world that Patrica C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer created for their Sorcery and Cecilia books. This book is about Frederick working for Thomas Schofield, training to be a footman. Love Thomas! Anyway, there is a lingering curse set on the Schofield house and Frederick and the brownie, Billy Bly, must save the Schofield family before it's too late. Events in this book take place after "The Grand Tour" but before "The Mislaid Magician." Lovely short book expanding on the Sorcery and Ce ...more
Oct 31, 2011 Elsiekate rated it really liked it
this book takes place in the same universe as the three books that caroline wrote with patricia wrede that begin with Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot but is pitched towards a younger audience. having read those three books, i can't gauge how much extra delight i brought to this book once i realized that we were in that world and were going to spend some time with those characters. but they are not the focus. as the title implies, we spend most of this book with the servants in ...more
Jun 14, 2011 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
I loved this - such a lovely blend of fairy tale magic (and even structure, in many ways) with a beautifully-done Regency-era setting. (And a different kind of Regency setting than the norm, since this one is really about the servants rather than the masters!) As a huge fan of Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede's Sorcery & Cecilia series, it was a fun added touch for me to recognize a few side characters, but that part certainly wasn't essential to the book - anyone could pick this one up ...more
Feb 16, 2010 Rebecca rated it liked it
Another book I really wanted to love, since I adored 'Sorcery and Cecilia.' I tried to figure out why I didn't love this book, which is the story of a young orphan who ends up working for the Schofields, and finally decided it was due to lack of focus. I was never really sure where the author was going, and after a while I wasn't sure if she'd gotten there. The protagonist's motivation waffled a lot, and his relationships with the other characters seemed sort of stiff--they didn't really develop ...more
Rebekah Shafer
Feb 10, 2015 Rebekah Shafer rated it really liked it
Shelves: in-2015
Thoroughly charming.
Oct 27, 2014 Ivan rated it it was ok

Do you believe in magic? In this fiction book, the mystery of wizards is revealed. Frederick Lincoln's life took a wild turn when he was taken from the orphanage enforced to live under the stairs.

The majority of the story takes place in the orphanage. First,Frederick gets payed for his work. Then he is forced to become a servant for a wizard. Next he created the cream for the food that would set him free.Last, he found a replacement. I was surprised when he was set free from
11 year old boy in a cruel, abusive situation discovers he has a magical helper who can be be free by being given clothes, goes to work for a magician and discovers he has magical powers. is this Harry Potter? No but it could be the Victorian version minus Hogwarts. Young Frederick Lincoln lives in an orphanage where the Master locks naughty children away in a damp, dark prison cell to punish them. Frederick enjoys helping out in the kitchen where he learns any number of useful things. He's quie ...more
Nov 12, 2014 Linnae rated it liked it
Frederick can hardly believe his luck. When a wealthy family wants a footboy from the orphanage (whoever will fit the uniform), it fits him like it was made for him. The next thing he knows, he is whisked away into a new world of masters and servants (actually that part he's pretty familiar with already) and magic. Before long his diligence, hard work, and perfect cravat-tying skills help him move up in the world.

When the family moves out to their country home for the summer, it's no secret tha
Jan 04, 2011 ~Megan~ rated it it was ok
Okay, this review has some spoilers and will likely make a lot more sense if you have read this book. If you actually liked it, then don't get mad at me for bashing it. This is only my personal opinion.

Well...I picked up this book because it looked similar to the Chrestomanci Chronicles, which I like quite a bit. And yes, there were similarities, but it kind of seemed like it was copying the Chrestomanci books a bit. It irritates me when people copy other authors' work... and this just wasn't al
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here.

Magic Below Stairs by Caroline Stervermer is another one of those delightful books that exists in an alternate version of Regency history where there is magic, wizards and the like.

Frederick is a very likable character and the world he inhabits is interesting. Just enough details are given of day to day life without being overly descriptive. It is a short read and will definitely appeal to children who enjoy historical fiction or stories with magic. It is the perfect mix o
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Betsy C
Aug 04, 2011 Betsy C rated it liked it
My goal for reading this book was to prepare to introduce it to my students this fall. As an entry on a state book award list which my students will vote on next spring, I think it has a good chance to pick up a few votes. Both the main character, Frederick Lincoln and his closest friend and supporting character Bes are very likable. I actually hope there is a way for Bes to appear in future stories although I am not sure that is the intent.
I am assuming that this is to be the first of a few st
Oddly similar to another series I read recently (Rose by Holly Webb) where an orphan gets a job as a servant in the household of a magician. Stevermer's style is stronger, but the story weaker, and "Magic Below Stairs" does suffer from being a 'companion story' to a series for adults (beginning with Sorcery and Cecelia, or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot). This particular magician is one of the characters of that series, and there's a strong sense of "you should know and care about these people and ...more
Jul 09, 2010 Tasha rated it really liked it
Half of the duo that created the Sorcery & Cecelia series returns with this story of a young man working in wizard Thomas Schofield’s household. Frederick was selected from the orphanage he lived in when he fit the last boy’s livery perfectly. That alone is odd, since the boy was much larger than Frederick. Frederick had also completed an impossible task, despite falling asleep during it, thanks to a strange little man who Frederick thought may have just been a dream. Frederick is a very har ...more
Mary Catelli
Remember Sorcery and Cecelia? Well, this takes place after it, and The Grand Tour, and before The Mislaid Magician. However, it works as a standalone. No doubt because it is the tale of one Thomas, an orphan boy. In the orphanage, set the impossible task of sorting out peas and beans spilled on the floor, he hears a strange voice singing and wakes up to find it done.

Shortly thereafter, one Lord Schofield sends for a footboy, and Thomas is the one chosen because the uniform fit him perfectly. (Od
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
As a bridge between The Grand Tour and The Mislaid Magician, I liked this book quite a bit. It partly answered a question I wondered about, i.e. why Kate has fewer children than Cecy. (I now have a theory about it. My old New Testament history prof would probably say that that it's eisegetical. But anyway.)

Anyway, as itself, it is an interesting book too. But it reads like it might be the start of a series. I suspect it depends on the cooperation of the publisher, which will depend on the sales
Oct 16, 2010 Nic rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 19, 2011 Erin rated it it was ok
Magic Below Stairs is a spinoff-esque little book by one of the authors of the delightful Sorcery and Cecelia series. Patricia Wrede's solo books, I'm sorry to say, are much more entertaining than her writing partner Caroline Stevermer's latest effort, which had only the brief appearances of Kate and her husband, the mysterious marquis, to recommend it. The story follows the adventures of a little orphan boy named Frederick, who has stereotypical little orphan adventures, and eventually becomes ...more
Beth E
Dec 22, 2014 Beth E rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, children-s
This was a fluffy little magic book, but it really could have used some editing. I like the core of the book, but the execution did not grab me.

I agree with other reviewers who said that the other books about the same characters, co-written with Patricia Wrede, are much better. This one seems to be aimed at a younger audience. It also refers to background events that do not actually take place in any other book in the series, which is odd.
Oct 09, 2010 Phoebe rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Joany, Deborah, Valerie, Lisa, Nanci
Picking up threads of her adult fantasy series featuring Kate and Thomas, the author now offers an extremely well-written fantasy for upper elementary school children. Frederick has a rough life in the orphanage, but on the day he must pick up and sort a 5-pound bag of peas and beans AND clean the kitchen floor by morning, he receives some mysterious and unexpected help from a brownie called Billy Bly. Frederick is a smart, capable boy who eventually gets a position in Lord Schofield's household ...more
Jun 29, 2015 Lauren rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, funny, cute
Magic Below Stairs was a very cute, mysterious fantasy book that kept me thoroughly captivated and completely in love with the charming characters. Frederick is a very cute, innocent, genius little kid. The story was a bit predictable, but not in a bad way. There are so many books out there, it's nearly impossible not to make a book predictable. The characters were wonderful and I read the book in a day. I wasn't once bored and the story line never dragged with page-fillers. This is a great book ...more
Oct 25, 2011 Carol rated it liked it
Frederick Lincoln seems to be living a life very common to young orphans in Victorian London. He helps out in the kitchen to earn extra tables scraps and to avoid contact with the orphanage director as well as the resident bullies. Frederick soon discovers he has an unusual companion, Billy Bly, a queer little brownie that no one else can see or hear. Billy aids Frederick in being chosen to leave the orphanage to work for Lord Schofield, a mysterious wizard. Frederick is soon immersed in the ast ...more
Sep 19, 2014 Voirrey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, read-2014
This was great fun. I enjoyed that I recognised the above stairs characters - and a couple of the senior servants - from 'Sorcery and Cecilia', but now we were looking at things from a different point of view.

If you enjoyed the three 'Cecilia' books I am sure you would also enjoy this.
Sandra Strange
Both Jane Yolen and Tamora Pierce liked this book, so readers can be assured it is delightful. I enjoyed the same things they praised, the wizardry throughout and the Dickensian plucky protagonist. Clean and positive and full of fun adventure (though it begins with Dickensian bleakness).
Tales Untangled
Jan 04, 2015 Tales Untangled rated it really liked it
I thought Fredrick was a fun character because he had such high values. He reminded me of Sarah Crewe from A Little Princess in a strange way. I had this connection in mind because...

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Jul 02, 2010 Jenna rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed the Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot but had trouble with this one. Maybe part of it was because I liked Kate and Cecilia in the first two books, but didn't really like Lord Schofield at all in this book -- perhaps because the POV is the young hero, but that sort of threw me.

I wasn't sure what to think of a lot of the characters, i.e. good or bad or indifferent, which frustrated me. I don't mind ambiguity, but this bothered me anyway...

Maybe if I read them all
May 17, 2013 Anna rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This is a much better book than I thought it would be from the cover. I hadn't realized when I picked it out, but the author is one of the co-authors of Sorcery & Cecilia, and this book takes place in that world. I liked all of the little explanations of day-to-day life of servants in the Victorian era (since they seem to be everpresent in most books of this type, but rarely mentioned in detail), and the story was more gripping than it usually is in middle reader books.

I docked a star...I'm
Karyn Silverman
Jan 20, 2010 Karyn Silverman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: z2010-reads
Set in the same world as the Sorcery and Cecelia books and featuring Thomas and Kate as secondary characters, this is actually for a younger audience and features an 11-year-old orphan-cum-bootboy. It reminded me a lot of Diana Wynne Jones' Chrestomanci books-- with Thomas Schofield as Chrestomanci, and Kate as the brains behind him. And it's very nearly as good, without feeling so much like a ripoff as a wonderful read-alike. I'm hoping for lots more set in this world, and would love to see Fre ...more
Jan 11, 2012 Tiana rated it really liked it
This book was recommended to me and I picked it up from the library without even realizing it was a companion novel to the Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot Cecelia and Kate 1 books, which of course, only made it better. This book is for a younger audience. I was a little uncertain about how Frederick and Lord Schofield were able to finally get rid of the curse, since it seemed like there was still residue of it and they didn't exactly try anything new ... but maybe I was readin ...more
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(from website)
Caroline Stevermer grew up miles from anywhere on a dairy farm in southeastern Minnesota. She has a sister and two brothers. After high school, she attended Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, where she earned a B.A. degree in the history of art. She knew she wanted to be a writer when she was eight years old. She began by writing stories in her school notebooks. (They were not good.
More about Caroline Stevermer...

Other Books in the Series

Cecelia and Kate (4 books)
  • Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (Cecelia and Kate, #1)
  • The Grand Tour (Cecilia and Kate, #2)
  • The Mislaid Magician: or Ten Years After (Cecelia and Kate, #3)

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“Frederick left the young couple gazing into each other’s eyes. Revolting, the way otherwise sensible people could carry on, he decided. Something to do with being married, no doubt. Perhaps it damaged the brain.” 1 likes
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