Three for Thursday: A Magical Trio

So for today’s bite sized reviews, I’m looking at three stories that deal with magic as a main element in the story.  Enjoy!

1.

The Magician’s Tower by Shawn Thomas Odyssey (Edgmont USA, 2013)

This is the second book in the Oona Crate Mysteries series.  These magical mysteries take place on Dark Street,  a magical outposting that is the last bridge between Faerie and the mundane world.  Oona prefers sleuthing to her magic studies, but now something is happening that might put all her skills to the test:  the Magician’s Tower Contest.  Every five years, a new challenge is designed–and this is the year Oona can participate.  But no one has ever solved the final challenge in all the years of the contest . . .

An entertaining read with plenty of problem solving and sideline mysteries for our heroine to tackle while she’s busy trying to win the contest.  Some of the mystery elements of the plot seemed a little to obvious for this adult reader, but will probably work fine for the younger middle grade audience.  There is a huge plot twist at the end, and I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that readers will be impatiently waiting for the next installment to find out what happens.

This should appeal to readers who like a mystery structure to their plots, but don’t mind a little magic and mayhem added in.  Readers will likely want to read the first book prior to starting this one, as it’s not really a stand-alone title.

2.

A Question of Magic by E.D. Baker (Bloomsbury, 2013)

Serafina is just an ordinary village girl until  the mysterious letter from an unknown aunt arrives, promising her an inheritance.  In order to claim it, she must travel to the aunt’s home.  But when Serafina arrives at the home, she discovers that she is to become the new Baba Yaga–and there’s no way to get out of it.  Now she’ll have to answer one question truthfully for each person that asks . . . and deal with the magical consequences of her new life.

This is a charming stand-alone fantasy story about magic, love and truth.  Readers expecting a less straight forward plot and less black and white characters may find this story packs less punch than they wish, but it’s a perfect fit for younger middle grade readers who are not yet ready for darker-toned stories.  The protagonists are vivid and likable and it’s interesting to see how they solve their particular problems and come to a happy ending for all involved.  Lightweight pseudo medieval fantasy that takes it’s own spin on the Baba Yaga legend.  Fans of E.D. Baker’s other fantasy stories will welcome this imaginative tale.

3.

The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013)

The second book in the The Last Dragonslayer series.  This alternate history story takes place in a world where magic exists alongside technology.  Sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange is currently in charge of Kazam Mystical Arts Management which involves trying to get her varied crew of magic-workers to arrive on time and with all due paperwork and preparation. It’s not an easy job.  And now with King Snodd eyeing the return of magic with his own greedy hands, Jennifer’s got her hands full.

Funny, fascinating and full of wild characters, Jasper Fforde is as good at creating a solid tween-teen fantasy story as he is creating the adult variety.  The story is second in a series, and it’s probably worth a reader’s time to track down the first–though not completely necessary.  The alternate history setting will require committed readers with a good head for imaginative worlds, but will be well worth it.  Adult and young adult readers will likely enjoy this as much as tweens.

Got to admit, Jasper Fforde’s writing goes back and forth for me.  Sometimes I love it, sometimes it just doesn’t connect.  This series is one I’m having a good deal of fun with.  Looking forward to the next installment in the series!

There you go, three for thursday (admittedly delivered a bit alter than Thursday!)  Enjoy!

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About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on February 15, 2014, in General Posts, Three for Thursdays and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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