In this epic historical fantasy, the second in the Shadow Histories series (following A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians), H.G. Parry paints intimate portraits of not-quite-historical figures.
After Robespierre broke the Concord by raising an army of the dead, Europe became engulfed in a war of magic for the first time in centuries. Now the blood magician who brought Robespierre to power has allied himself with Napoléon Bonaparte. In England, William Wilberforce's fight for abolition and the free exercise of magic conflicts with the war effort, straining his friendship with William Pitt the Younger, who has his own magical secrets known by only a few. But the blood magician is not interested just in Europe; in Saint-Domingue, Fina works her magic to support Toussaint Louverture while spying on the stranger.
Parry (The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep) blends genres in A Radical Act of Free Magic and its predecessor, and succeeds in all of them. The introduction of a new character, commoner weather mage Kate Dove, opens possibilities for naval battle sequences that will excite any historical military fiction fan. The political issues surrounding magic and who has the right to practice it intertwine with the abolition movement and Enlightenment politics in a way that will strike readers as perfectly natural, in spite of the supernatural material. Most of all, Parry depicts both the original and the fictionalized characters with true heart. Readers should be prepared to shed tears for historical figures. --Kristen Allen-Vogel, information services librarian at Dayton Metro Library