Tag Archives: magic

Review of The Library, the Witch, and the Warder (Washington Warders #1), by Mindy Klasky

I’m on vacation this week, so my posts might not be regular. But I read a book and a half on the way here and I have internet connection at the moment, so, I’m taking advantage of it and posting a quick review or two.

I won a copy of Mindy Klasky‘s The Library, The Witch, and the Warder (Washington Warders) (Volume 1) through LibraryThing.

Description from Goodreads:
Former warder David Montrose has a problem. Or two. Or three.

He’s been fired from his job protecting the witches of Washington DC. Now, he’s stuck working a dead-end job at Hecate’s Court while he tries to redeem his reputation and put his life back together.

Which would be a decent plan if things weren’t so…complicated. His new boss is a tyrant. His father says he’s disgraced the family name. And instead of sympathizing, his best friend is trying to drag him onto the front lines of an all-out supernatural war.

Just as David gets a glimpse of the elusive work-life-magic balance, he’s summoned back to warder status. His unexpected new charge is a captivating witch who possesses the strongest powers he’s ever seen. David already has enough on his plate. How can he possibly juggle work, warfare, and warding Jane Madison?

He’d better figure things out soon. Jane’s safety—and all of magical Washington—depends on him!

This was fluff, but enjoyable fluff. Don’t go in expecting anything heavy or substantial, but just float along for the ride. Klasky has a fun writing style and I found myself liking all the characters. Though I did find some of it cheesy and cliche (the black cat familiar named Neko, the pocket protector/smudged glasses/bad fashion sense/pudgy antagonist), though I think some of that might have been purposeful on Klasky’s part, playing with tropes.

This is labeled a cozy mystery, but with it’s magic element I think it’s a sort of urban fantasy, though not gritty enough to actually carry the title. For those looking for urban fantasy bordering on paranormal romance, look elsewhere. A warder and his witch is a platonic relationship, so no romance here (maybe later in the series going by the clues dropped, but not in this book). But I didn’t feel denied. I like the way things turned out.

Lastly, this is apparently the flip perspective of Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft. Meaning it’s the same story from the male lead’s perspective, while GGtW is from the female lead’s perspective. This is normally something I dislike. Who wants to read the same story twice? But in this case I can see how it might work. Jane’s situation is only a small part of what David has going on in this book. Honestly, if a quarter of the plot focuses on her I’d be surprised. So, there is plenty the reader doesn’t see of Jane. I actually have GGtW. I think I picked it up as a freebie. So, if I ever get around to reading it, I’ll update this review. But in the mean time I don’t think the two would feel too redundant and The Library, the Witch, and the Warder doesn’t make me want to avoid it.

Review of Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet, by Charlie N. Holmberg

I’m on vacation this week, so posts will likely be few and far between. But I did read a book and a half on the drive from home to here and I happen to have internet access at the moment, so, I’m taking advantage of it with a quick post or two. Starting with Charlie N. Holmberg‘s Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet, which I bought.

Description from Goodreads:
Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn’t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.

When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch’s gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.

During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is—as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.

This is one of those books that is difficult for me to review because I disliked it for a lot of the time, but the end brought it all together and I finished happy. The simple fact of the matter is that at least half of this book is just the main character, Maire, being enslaved and abused. (Though it’s inferred to have happened to other captives, rape isn’t one of the abuses Maire suffers, but she is severely physically abused, as well as starved.) And while hints are dripped in here and there, it takes a long time for further plot to appear (so long I wondered that there could be one, as there didn’t seem time left to develop one). Luckily, there is one. It just loops back a bit. It’s a bit hadn’t-wavey on mechanics, but thought-provoking. Plus, though I wouldn’t call this a romance novel, there is a wonderful example of a strong relationship. All in all, it passed the time of a tedious car trip quite effectively and I’m glad to have read it.

Review of Shadowshaper, by Daniel José Older

I bought a copy of Daniel José Older‘s Shadowshaper.

Description from Goodreads:
Sierra Santiago was looking forward to a fun summer of making art, hanging out with her friends, and skating around Brooklyn. But then a weird zombie guy crashes the first party of the season. Sierra’s near-comatose abuelo begins to say “No importa” over and over. And when the graffiti murals in Bed-Stuy start to weep…. Well, something stranger than the usual New York mayhem is going on.

Sierra soon discovers a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers, who connect with spirits via paintings, music, and stories. Her grandfather once shared the order’s secrets with an anthropologist, Dr. Jonathan Wick, who turned the Caribbean magic to his own foul ends. Now Wick wants to become the ultimate Shadowshaper by killing all the others, one by one. With the help of her friends and the hot graffiti artist Robbie, Sierra must dodge Wick’s supernatural creations, harness her own Shadowshaping abilities, and save her family’s past, present, and future.

First off, that cover is beyond beautiful, just stunning!

Second, I love that the main character’s heritage is from a Puerto Rico, but her friends and other characters are Haitian, Cuban, and from Montinique. It reminds readers that black and brown culture is a varied and important as white cultures.

Third, the narration and dialogue is wonderfully realistic. No one really speaks in fully formed, proper English all the time. Especially not those from communities where English isn’t the only language spoken. I really appreciated this.

Fourth, as a prior anthropology student, I cringed to see the antagonist abusing the study as badly as they did. But the fact that what they were engaging in was basically the ultimate act of appropriation was not missed by me.

I truly enjoyed this book. However, I also found the plot moved too fast. Especially in the beginning, when Sierra accepted and acted on very little information. Additionally, there’s a bit of a deus ex machina climax. But overall it’s a win and I’ll be passing the book to my daughter.