Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Review: Magic Study

Earlier this year I reviewed Poison Study and absolutely loved it. For a while it was one of the only books to catch my interest and keep me engaged. It was like a breath of fresh air while I was in the pit of stress. Obviously, this made me super eager to continue on with the rest of the series. Magic Study, book two, picks up not long after the end of book one and, in my opinion, was a bit of a mess of a book. Rather than continue with the momentum book one had built in me it fell flat, had some strange things going on, and generally made me confused as to how the first book was so good.

Before I continue, I don't want this to sound like I'm bashing the author. I really like the author, and I plan to continue reading both this series and her further books. However, this book was, in many ways, rather stupid, and that can't be ignored. There may be minor spoilers to follow.

Where to start? I had a bad feeling about this one in the first chapter. It takes place in a completely new setting and the world building for said setting (Sitia) was filled with weak world building and flat characters. The dynamics that made both the heroes and villains of Poison Study were completely lost here and every new character introduced stagnated in a pool of tropes. Even Yelena, who supposedly grew throughout the book (actually I have a really big gripe about how she "grew" so I'll be getting to this before the end of the review), didn't change much at all. I will give the story props for the (perhaps unintentional?) comparison of Communism and Capitalism (and showing how they both had peaks and valleys) and not straight out villainizing one or the other. As for old favorite characters (looking at YOU Valek; also, Ari and Janco), they did return, but in such an unsatisfactory way.

Okay, the plot. It was repetitive and, at it's core, was exactly the same thing that happened in book one. The villain was a bad magician, raping and killing young girls for their magic, and, if it weren't for you meddling kids he would have gotten away with it. Instead of a poison tester, now Yelena is a student (???) and she's going to this fancy school where they train magicians. But instead of having a Harry Potter or Name of the Wind situation where we get to explore the school through Yelena's eyes and sit in on some really interesting classes, Yelena (and every other student) is put in one class with one teacher and meets sporadically. Actually, she barely meets with Irys at all. Seriously, at all.

And even though she's supposed to be learning how to control her magic she just kind of suddenly gets a grasp of how it works (though, I'm still not 100% sure; it's a messy magic system). And, guess what, she's a rare Soulfinder which is pretty taboo (even though it's not like she could control it) because they can raise the dead (or at least, one did, once), at least it's taboo until, at the end, no one really cares anymore. In fact, there isn't much of a deal made about it at all, except by Yelena herself. Her teacher, Irys, keeps getting mad at her, but in the end realizes she (Irys) didn't actually know what was best, Yelena did. What's the point of having a mentor figure who's not a good mentor? And the other big magicians are either petty and childlike (First Magician), tropey oaf (Second Magician), or random, suddenly best friend (Third Magician). None of them had any subtlety or depth and Yelena was more powerful than any of them, even though she really can't do much with her magic.

As much as this was bothering me as I read, there was a point that I started getting sucked into the story and thinking the book would save itself. Nope. The last third (maybe more) was just stupid. Yelena kept getting kidnapped, then saving herself, then getting kidnapped again. She defeated each villain without breaking a sweat and often made tasks more complicated for herself as she did so. Everything was super predictable, the villain wasn't scary, and the random characters and plots thrown in just got muddy and wrapped up far too quickly and easily for me to even care. Each turn of the page led to something new that was more and more off of where the story had started and it felt packed with fluff rather than content.

Don't even get me started on Cahil (what is the point of his character? at all?) or the names in general (both the characters and parts of the world; where is the creativity I enjoyed so much in book one?!). I was really disappointed with this one and I hope book three saves the series a bit more because it was such a slog to get through this one.


  1. I read and liked Poison Study many years ago but as soon as I read the blurb for the second book, I didn't like the sound of the story and never read on with the series. It sounds as if I made the right decision!

    1. Yep you definitely did. This was such a disappointment. I'm hoping book three is better and can help save the series.

  2. I love Magic Study so much but for some reason I never picked up this one. I don't know, I had a bad feeling about it and now I'm starting to think I was right.


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