Book Review: An Unkindness of Magicians

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An Unkindness of Magicians
by Kat Howard

Every so often a book comes along that makes you want to hide away in your room and read it long into the night until you reach the final page. An Unkindness of Magicians had that special feeling right from the first few pages, drawing the reader in to the complicated magical world author Kat Howard created.

Deep in the heart of New York City, families of wealthy, powerful magicians live in their Houses, unknown to the human world. Only one House at a time serves as the head of their community and the time has come for the Turning – an intense battle of magic that one by one pits the different Houses against each other until a champion prevails.

Sydney comes from the House of Shadows, a terrible place that controls all the magic in the unseen world and thrives on cruel sacrifices from the Houses. Fueled by revenge and a desire to take down the dark magic that courses through her world, she signs a contract to fight for House Prospero. Twists and turns abound as the conflicts between the Houses builds to an unpredictable end.

Not only is the story completely engrossing, but it’s also beautifully written. There are several plot lines going and it takes a few pages to learn who goes with which House, but the complexity of the characters really adds to the overall story. These magicians are incredibly flawed and gritty; had this been a grown up Harry Potter story, most of them probably would have been sorted into Slytherin.

Sadly, An Unkindness of Magicians is a stand alone novel and while it’s a real treat to find such an entertaining book that’s not part of a series, a part of you is left wanting more. Hopefully, someday the story will continue.

Five out of Five stars. Best book of 2017 (so far).

For fans of: The Magicians, darker Harry Potter and secret magical worlds.

What’s the Next Big Thing in Young Adult literature?

Since the Divergent and Hunger Games series have wrapped up their sagas, teens may be looking for the next big thing. There aren’t a lot of series getting much buzz right now and it seems like dystopian is dead. Vampires certainly are and zombies may be on their way out too. What does seem to be emerging is a trend are stories featuring characters with special abilities – maybe YA authors are cashing in on the popularity of superheroes?

Here are a few titles that I’ve recently read that I think could be the next big thing at the library, bookstores and eventually the box office.

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The Red Queen
by Victoria Aveyard

Mare Barrow lives in a world that’s divided by blood – those who bleed red are the poor commoners, destined to a life of poverty. The silver bloods are the elites in society who also possess super-human powers and strengths.

After a series of unfortunate events and a chance encounter with a prince, Mare discovers she has special abilities of her own. In the wake of a Red rebellion, the royal family forces her to hide her true identity, claiming she’s of Silver lineage and betrothing her to their son. The rebels can’t be silenced though and Mare’s abilities play a crucial role in the impending revolution.

The Red Queen is a mix of The Hunger Games, X-Men and Game of Thrones. Sounds like a weird combination but it surprisingly works. While the book isn’t especially original and some of the plot twist are predictable, it’s still an entertaining and action packed story.

 

The 5th Wave
by Rick Yancy

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Sixteen year old Cassie Sullivan is trying to survive on her own after a series of alien invasions, called waves, that have begun wiping the planet of human life. She’s already lost both parents and she last saw her little brother waving from the back of a school bus on his way to safety at a nearby military base…or so she thought.

The aliens know she’s out there though and they’ve sent a “Silencer”to track her down and kill her. What they didn’t plan on is a very real, very human connection that forms between Cassie and her would be assailant.

Part War of the Worlds and part Falling Skies, The 5th Wave is a high octane survival story that will appeal to both guys, gals and their parents. Cassie is the main protagonist, but the chapters alternate between her point of view and other main characters in the novel until all their stories meet at the end. The movie version didn’t do so well at the box office, but the book is a well written, engaging story that will leave teens eager for the next installment, The Infinite Sea.

 

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Miss Perigrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

Don’t let the cover fool you – this book is not a horror story! Instead, brace yourself for a time traveling adventure as Jacob Portman, who sets out to find out who his recently deceased grandfather really is, stumbles upon a portal that takes him back to Wales during WWII.

There he discovers the orphanage his grandfather grew up in, a bunch of mysterious children with super powers and a dangerous monster that’s out to kill them all.

Part one in a trilogy, Miss Perigrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a fascinating story that uses photographs to enhance the plot and reader’s experience. Characters are extremely well developed and the story unlike any you will ever read. The books have been wildly popular for a few years now, but with the movie version set to hit theaters in August, expect a rush of new fans to the series.