"So, it's - what - like magic?"
No, according to Pen's uncle, the Rite is not magic at all. But, if it's not magic, then how could Pen push the school bully into a pond while he was really studying alone in the library?
When Pen's family realise he has the Rite, he is sent to live with his Uncle Napier, who can help him control his ability.
But Napier has other duties. He is the Rendelf, in charge of the Rite in the UK, and he has gathered many enemies over the years...
...enemies who would be delighted to use Pen against him.