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Book Review: The Wizard’s Butler by Nathan Lowell

TL;DR: A light cozy urban fantasy, The Wizard’s Butler by Nathan Lowell is a charming story about belonging and belief.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

Roger Mulligan is hired by the niece of an older gentleman troubled by dementia to be his butler. But what starts out as a simple assignment to keep Joseph Perry Shackleford alive long enough for his niece to place him in care takes a turn for the interesting, when Shackleford claims he’s a wizard.

This was a recommendation on a cozy fantasy subreddit that fit a square for my Fantasy Bingo card (2023). It sounded light enough to be easy to read and interesting enough to hold my interest. The person who recommended it was right. It’s charming, has depth, has character growth (not too much), and just a touch of magic to make it a lovely cozy urban fantasy. For all that and more, I gave it 4.5 stars.

The Plot

Roger Mulligan, army vet and ex EMT, is in a desperate situation. He needs a job. So when Naomi Rexford wants to hire him to be the butler to her ill uncle, he can’t refuse, especially when she promises him $5000 a month and a million dollar bonus if he keeps the old man alive for a year.

As Roger settles into his role, he finds out that the old man, Joseph Perry Shackleford believes himself to be a wizard. When too many unexplained things occur, Roger begins to believe him. The only trouble is the niece, who is determined to kick the old man out and take over his million dollar property.

What I liked & liked less

I didn’t know what to expect with this book, but what I got, I liked. It has interesting characters, a touch of magic that’s not hard to understand, and a charming story.

Roger is likeable and relatable. It takes him awhile to believe Shackleford about the pixies who clean the house and the fairies who tend to the garden, which feels realistic for any normal human. He also takes his job seriously and finds peace while doing it. I loved that he wanted to be the best butler he could be, down to even learning to cook and ironing sheets.

Joseph Shackleford is also likeable. Yes, he’s rich enough to have million dollar cars and to spend a lot of money and call it petty cash, but he never treats Roger as anything other than a loyal staff member. His struggle is also real and as the book progresses, it’s easy to empathize with him.

The world building and use of magic in the book is light enough to keep it cozy, but rich enough to explain how it works without being overwhelming. I loved the butler’s guide Mulligan is given, which has an entry for anything he could possibly need. It fit with the tone of the book and also gave it that magical feeling.

Because the book is from Mulligan’s POV, there were times when I wanted him to be a bigger part of the conversation than he was. There were moments when the distance between what was happening in the plot felt removed because Mulligan spent a lot of that time moving back and forth to serve dinner or coffee. He was a part of the team, while also very clearly being staff versus guest.

To Sum Up (Too Late!)

If you are looking for a light cozy fantasy read, you’ll like this book. If you want to read a mostly expected plot (greedy niece who wants the land), then you’ll like this book. It was well-written, the characters were lovely and acted according to who they were, and the magic was fun yet light. I enjoyed this little magical book and look forward to reading the second book in the series when it comes out. For all that and more, I gave it 4.5 stars.

About the Author

Nathan Lowell has been a writer for more than forty years, and first entered the literary world by podcasting his novels. His sci-fi series, The Golden Age of the Solar Clipper grew from his long time fascination with space opera and his own experiences shipboard in the United States Coast Guard. Unlike most works which focus on a larger-than-life hero (prophesized savior, charismatic captain, or exiled prince), Nathan centers on the people behind the scenes–ordinary men and women trying to make a living in the depths of space. In his novels, there are no bug-eyed monsters, or galactic space battles, instead he paints a richly vivid and realistic world where the “hero” uses hard work and his own innate talents to improve his station and the lives of those of his community.

Dr. Nathan Lowell holds a Ph.D. in Educational Technology with specializations in Distance Education and Instructional Design. He also holds an M.A. in Educational Technology and a BS in Business Administration. He grew up on the south coast of Maine and is strongly rooted in the maritime heritage of the sea-farer. He served in the USCG from 1970 to 1975, seeing duty aboard a cutter on hurricane patrol in the North Atlantic and at a communications station in Kodiak, Alaska. He currently lives in the plains east of the Rocky Mountains with his wife and two daughters.

If you wish to purchase this book, pick your vendor of choice, or just cave to the man and get it from Amazon.

This fills in the Mundane Jobs square of my Fantasy Bingo 2023 card.