A. M. Dellamonica
Tor Books, April 2012
From the author’s website—
The sequel to Indigo Springs opens with the U.S. government preparing to try Sahara Knax for treason, while Astrid Lethewood and a growing number of volunteers try to find ways to safely maintain the spread of magic into the real world. Law and order breaks down in the U.S. as several factions vie for control over enchantment. Witch-burners square off against the Alchemite cult, hundreds of soldiers caught in the crossfire go missing, and police struggle with the fallout from power outages and storms–even murders!–triggered by the use of mystical objects.
In Indigo Springs, Astrid promised the residents of a realm called the unreal that she would restore the mystical balance: freeing them and returning magic to the real world. But making a promise is easier than keeping it. The raw vitagua has been cursed, turned by an ancient cult into a contaminant that turns people to animals, animals to monsters. If Astrid cannot reverse that ancient spell, the continued spread of magic can only be catastrophic.
There are many things that can be said in a book review and many aspects of the book that can be covered. For me, the most relevant are the quality of the writing, the strengths and weaknesses of the author’s character and plot developments, and, most of all, whether I liked the book and why or why not. In the end, my “job” is to give an honest opinion that will help other readers decide if the book in question is one they’re likely to want to read for their own reasons. Blue Magic has thrown me up against a problem I haven’t really encountered before—I don’t know what I think of this book, at least, not clearly.
First, I was asked to review this book but it was already on my list of titles I wanted to take a look at so there’s no undue influence at work here. Second, I like the dark fantasy subgenre so I’m predisposed to like this one but, at the same time, I’ve read enough of this category that I might be too critical if I’m not careful and I do try to be careful.
Ms. Dellamonica has created a world full of possibilities and consequences and one can’t help but be interested in what her characters might do with the new-found ability to use magic. At the same time, Will has a very natural and overwhelming desire to find his children and that desire takes precedence over everything else. Perhaps a benevolent use of magic can help him but he’s up against a cult atmosphere that is driven by a fanatical worship of its leader and just may make it impossible for him to get his kids back. In the meantime, Astrid, who found the river of magic, must find a way to prevent the world-wide damage her former friend, Sahara, may have set in motion in her quest for power.
The author has crafted a story that is different and appealing to the apocalyptic or dark fantasy fan who is always looking for something refreshing and there is no doubt that she is a gifted writer. So, why don’t I have a distinct opinion about Blue Magic? I could say I felt there were too many characters (I got a little lost among them all in Astrid’s compound) or that I think the book is a bit too long but those are just minor points.
No, the difficulty I had with this book is mine alone and no fault of the author’s. Normally, I can happily read a series out of order—I have no problem reading #16 first and then I may or may not want to go back to catch up on earlier books. This one, though, has sort of thrown a monkey wrench in my usual modus operandi and, well, maybe it actually is Ms. Dellamonica‘s fault. The truth is, I want to know these characters better and understand more about what has happened to their world with the discovery of the underground stream of blue magic. To do that, I’m just going to have to read Indigo Springs and then I’ll have a better feel for Blue Magic. Why is this the author’s fault? Plainly speaking, she has made me want to start at the beginning because the second book is so intriguing and I have to satisfy my need to know more.
Yes, it’s definitely her fault.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2012.
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