A baker’s apprentice reluctantly embarks on an adventure full of magic, new friendships, and a prince in distress in this “appealingly breezy” (Kirkus Reviews) and “deftly written” (School Library Journal, starred review) young adult fantasy that’s perfect for fans of Margaret Rogerson and Gail Carson Levine.
It’s not all sugar and spice at Basil’s Bakery, where seventeen-year-old Aurelie is an overworked, underappreciated apprentice. Still, the job offers stability, which no-nonsense Aurelie values highly, so she keeps her head down and doesn’t dare to dream big—until a stranger walks in and hands her a set of Seeking stones. In a country where Seeking was old-fashioned even before magic went out of style, it’s a rare skill, but Aurelie has it.
The stranger, who turns out to be a remarkably bothersome bounty hunter named Iliana, asks for Aurelie’s help rescuing someone from the dangerous Underwood—which sounds suspiciously like an adventure. When the someone turns out to be Prince Hapless, the charming-but-aptly-named prince, Aurelie’s careful life is upended. Suddenly, she finds herself on a quest filled with magic portals, a troll older than many trees (and a few rocks), and dangerous palace intrigue.
Even more dangerous are the feelings she’s starting to have for Hapless. The more time Aurelie spends with him, the less she can stand the thought of going back to her solitary but dependable life at the bakery. Must she choose between losing her apprenticeship—or her heart?
Emma Mills is the author of several young adult novels, including Foolish Hearts, First & Then, and Something Close to Magic. When she is not writing, Emma can be found editing scientific manuscripts, tending to her large collection of succulents, and deep diving into various fandoms. Emma lives in St. Louis with her dog Teddy, who is best described as a big personality in a tiny package. You can find Emma on X (previously known as Twitter) and Instagram (@Elmify) or at EmmaMillsBooks.com.
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (June 13, 2023)
"This novel has in-depth character development with a fantasy world that comes alive as the story progresses. . . Strongly recommended for Dungeon & Dragons enthusiasts. With a unique world, characters to root for, and a deftly written plot, this book is highly recommended."
– School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
"Nuanced, profound scenes mingle with lighter, humorous moments, making the characters feel real and their growth believable. . . Mills’ mastery of language is on full display here, with fun, clever prose and dialogue that are bound to make readers laugh out loud. . . Classic fairy-tale settings, compelling mysteries and a charismatic cast of characters make Something Close to Magic an entertaining, fast-paced read, and its ending strikes the perfect balance between satisfaction and the promise of more adventures. Readers will be reminded of The Princess Bride."
"Teens who relish light, character-driven stories will enjoy this fantasy . . . The dialogue is filled with dry repartee that is also highlighted in a particularly well-crafted epistolary interlude showcasing the growing feelings, despite their social class differences, between Aurelie and the prince. . . This appealingly breezy novel will whet readers’ appetites for magic and adventure."