This book is a fast read--two and a bit hours for me, and that was with me checking Twitter compulsively every couple of minutes. I think this may be the first time I've posted two book reviews in one day.
I've been a fan of Caroline Stevermer for years (her postapocalyptic YA River Rats is a truly brilliant book), and I love the books she's written with Patricia Wrede. I had no idea she'd written another book set in the same world as Sorcery & Cecilia until I noticed it on someone else's blog (I can't remember whose, but probably Book Aunt).
Magic Below Stairs tells the story of Frederick Lincoln, an orphan who's hired as a footboy in Thomas Schofield's household. If you've read Sorcery & Cecilia you don't need to be told that Lord Schofield is a wizard. Frederick has a bit of magic too, though, something he's not even aware of: the brownie Billy Bly has taken a liking to him. Where Frederick goes, Billy Bly goes--even if Frederick's new employer doesn't want him around. Brownies are trouble, and Thomas Schofield's wife is pregnant and mustn't be disturbed. But Billy Bly discovers an old curse lingering on the house, and no one but Frederick believes him.
The story is simple and lively, and Frederick's a likable guy. His loneliness when Billy Bly is sent away is moving; the way he helps track down the curse is a lot of fun. Frederick is eleven, so the book is meant for younger kids, but it certainly held my attention.