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Magic Below Stairs

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  877 ratings  ·  130 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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3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  877 ratings  ·  130 reviews

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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

for more books set in this world. I need more Thomas and Kate. 😍
Aug 14, 2012 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
Feb 23, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: younger, fantasy
Good but brief, this novella about an orphan hired as a servant in a sorcerer's house is set in the alternate-England of Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot but intended for younger readers. I quite liked the protagonist and the plot ideas, but the book as a whole felt a little undeveloped.
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
A cute and quick story about an orphan who becomes a servant who ends up having magical abilities.

There's really nothing more to it than what's on the tin, and it's only loosely a part of the "Cecelia and Kate stories". Definitely written for younger stories, and I did find Frederick and Billy Bly sweet and charming, and Bess was a fun character. I would've liked to see a bit more development to Lord Schofield, though I suppose that happens more in the other books - though I can't say I recall t
Oct 31, 2011 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
Feb 28, 2010 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 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
Shawn Cooke
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Magic Below Stairs is a charming young adult novel, with a protagonist that is easy to like, even if he is not particularly distinctive or unusual. This is Victorian England (plus magic) at its most romanticized, with jovial lords whose bark is worse than their bite, wise mentors, evil orphanages, and of course, servants happy with their station in life.

In a more adult novel I would be more inclined to cavil at this, but at the age range it is written, the broad strokes and glorification of a mo
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A happy reading following the Cecilia and Kate series.
This book could be the number 2.5 .

The opening was not strong enough in my opinion. It rather felt like random children magic book.
The writing, fortunately, is really flowing, preventing me from hopping to read other book before this one is finished.

I did not know that this book took place in Cecilia and Kate's world. And it wasn't until several chapters that the connection become obvious.
So it wasn't the series that kept me reading.
It was
May 23, 2019 rated it liked it
A fun little children's fantasy. This would probably be a better book if it was longer. There would then be time to find out more about Billy Bly and more thoroughly explore the threat which as it stands is dealt with much to quickly in the end. Frederick is a fun and different hero and more time in his world would have been welcome.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is good... this book is really good. It had everything in it that makes a good story, but the climax at the end had me a tad bit disappointed...! I had expected it to be... more, I guess. It was a bit of a let down, and then it just ended. Either way, GREAT story! I'm happy I read it and will probably look at it again, as well as the other books. :)
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a pretty quick read and a fun peek at a different side of some characters from the Cecilia & Kate world. Sometimes the dialogue was a little confusing (had to read some passages a couple times to really get what they were saying), but I really enjoyed Frederick and Billy Bly.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
not as interesting as the rest of the cecilia & kate series...
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Becca Curtis
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Fun idea, but felt a little unfinished.
Jill Cd
A fun fantasy book that reminds me a bit of Harry Potter in the plot. I think for kids too young for HP, this is a good short alternative.
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Read this book last year, Loved it!
Sep 09, 2010 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Mar 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi-fantasy, ya
Orphan Frederick gets a Brownie named Billie Bly who follows him when he gets hired at the home of a wizard named Lord Schofield. in the process of helping the wizard, Frederick finds out that he has magic potential. A fun read.
Suzanne Warr
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was so thrilled to find a MG by this author! Love the books Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede have written together--such as The Enchanted Chocolate Pot--and this one was set in the same world, and even in Kate and Thomas Schofield's home. Great little tale, with fully realized world building and wonderful research into Victorian England. Find the full review on my blog here (plus the cat's two cents) and happy reading!
Jan 04, 2011 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
Jun 10, 2010 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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
Betsy C
Aug 04, 2011 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
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
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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.
“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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