Thanks to changing jobs, I’m now working crazy long hours, in an open plan office, which means I don’t get the opportunity to read as much anymore. So long, super serious books have gone on the back burner. I just can’t bring myself to start something I know will take me weeks to finish. I’m too impatient!
To try and get myself back on the reading train, I’ve been looking for fun, light reads where I can just pick them up and be immediately immersed. So when I read a review by Nina @TheCozyPages of the third book in the Abracadabra series, Magick Run Amok, I thought it sounded perfect! Thanks Nina! I immediately hopped on Amazon (yes, I know they’re evil, but next day delivery…) and bought the first book: Magick & Mayhem.
Overall, I really enjoyed Magick & Mayhem. It was exactly what I was looking for: light, fun, easy to get into, and absorbing. I finished it in one sitting, and was actually quite annoyed when I was interrupted two chapters before the end!
That being said, I did have some “issues” with it…
What I liked
First off, the general premise was intriguing. It was a bit different, and a lot of fun. That was enough to get me to read on.
I liked the main characters a lot. They were very well fleshed out, had a strong backstory, and distinct voices. They were also likeable as people, and felt somehow familiar, like people you might actually know.
I thought it was particularly clever to have the dead relatives popping out of interdimensional “clouds”. That was a good way of adding some detail to the characters, and I liked the drama it lent to the plot and stlightly mysterious magical air.
I liked the inclusion of a love interest. A love interest in a mystery adds something for me… If done right. Here, everything did seem to happen a little too fast for believability. I mean, if I started calling a guy “my boyfriend” when we’d met twice and kissed once… I have a feeling there’d be a man-shaped hole in my wall!
The whole book was super fun, and clipped along at a good pace, which kept me hooked to the end.
What I didn’t like
Unfortunately, that’s where the positive ends for me. Magick & Mayhem just wasn’t a successful mystery.
The characters’ reactions and motivations were sometimes unclear, and a little confusing. I didn’t understand the protagonist’s motivation for investigating in the first place, and the other characters were often needlessly antagonistic or behaved in strange ways.
There was little or no worldbuilding. This is a unique and intriguing idea for a book, and I wanted to know more about the shop, the magic world, and the town. I wanted to feel that connection to place, which really sells a mystery series for me. Unfortunately, the author saved the descriptive language for her meals and, I’m not kidding here, parking lots. There were several descriptions of where she was parking her car, which went on for a paragraph. Almost nothing about the inside of a building or a place.
The handling of the magic in the story was very simplistic, a little unbelievable, and just generally unexplored. It was incidental to the story, rather than integral. And that’s a shame, because it opened up so many interesting plot possibilities.
I am still confused as to why Merlin pops up, and what purpose he played in the story. Plus, he was just annoying. It made no sense. In general, the characters relation to one another and the story were not well developed. It felt a little lonely.
I think the worst thing was the clumsy clue dropping, restating of obvious facts, missing standard mystery elements (like a clearly established time of death), lack of any logical development in solving the crime, and glaring consistency errors. I was completely lost at some points, and it was a bit frustrating. Not to mention, the way the solution was sprung on the reader with little to back it up through the rest of the story.
I quite enjoyed this book as a light read. It had issues, for sure. But I enjoyed the premise and I thought it was fun. It wasn’t a complete disaster, but probably not for me.
Can anyone recommend anything else light and fun, which might get me out of this reading slump?!