This one took a while to grow on me. For, probably, the first third to half of the novel, I wasn't really enjoying myself. Some other people in the reviews say that it's a bit of a slow burn, and I agree. Stick with it though, and you'll find yourself a really charming Victorian England novel – with magic.
The world is a bit of an alternate history/alternate universe Victorian era, where magic is commonplace (if restricted), and upbringing and reputation is everything. Zacharias is the Sorcerer Royal for England by merit of being chosen by the previous Sorcerer Royal, though not without protest from other magicians and aristocracy in London. With an ever-deepening problem involving the flow of magic into England, he by chance meets Prunella, an orphaned girl at a school for witches. She has the unfortunate fate of being extremely talented in magic in a society that frowns upon and shuns sorceresses. Prunella, fearing her fate of being locked away in an inconsequential life and wanting more for herself in London society, schemes her way to London with Zacharias. From there, friendship amidst hardship develops, and Prunella and Zacharias both have to confront the past that brought them to where they are now.
It's an interesting premise, and I'm not doing it justice through summary, I'm afraid. There's a lot more to it, involving the fairy kingdom, some assassination attempts, some political machinations, and dragons. Despite the plot seemingly tackling a lot of things at once, I feel like it does so fairly well. It was a fun romp in magical Victorian England that I'm glad I stuck with. The writing style is a bit wordy, and I noted one reviewer comparing the style to a Jane Austen novel, which I can totally see. I thought it lent the story some charm and fun. There's a bit of a feeling of Anne of Green Gables in some places as well, if Anne did magic (can you imagine?). I really did feel like the language lent the book some humor and charm, and was appropriate for the tone the author was going for.
My only real quibble was Prunella's character. Her motives felt all over the place, and in some places her character really annoyed me. By the end, though, I felt like the author had more or less decided where to go with Prunella, and I really did like the ending between her and Zacharias.
I really recommend this book for anyone who's willing to stick through the (appropriate) stuffy language and a bit of a slow start and experience a really fun magical adventure.