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Book Review: Illegal Magic, by Arlene Blakely

IllegalMagic

Arlene Blakely has created a seriously fun, kick ass read. It’s cozy mystery-meets urban fantasy with a dose of humor on the side. I loved the refreshing voice in this, the down to earth lead character, and the very different friends around her. Lani has a real sense of who she is: a girl born to a powerful magical family who has no magic at all. She’s forced to find employment in the real, non magical, world because of her lack of magic, which her family doesn’t understand but does their best to support.

I loved the sense of friendship and life in this. The first part of the story is simply Lani celebrating and starting her first job as a lawyer. For awhile, I thought “hmmm, nothing is happening.” But I didn’t care. I kept reading because just watching Lani go through her daily life was fascinating. Talk about grounding the reader in the world. By the time Lani starts her first case and the mystery sets in, I know the rules of the world, the way Lani lives, her friends, everything. And I’m rooting for her one hundred percent.

Since the voice is the best part of this story, I’m including a few more lines than I normally would:

 

 

[box] First Lines:

Every spell has a metaphysical price. Want to blast through a ten-foot concrete wall? Be prepared to spend the next few days in bed, vomiting toads. Aching to spin straw into gold? Great idea, really. Just don’t be surprised when all your teeth fall out and you see double for a week.

Drinking is a lot like using magic. Go ahead and guzzle seven glasses of champagne, four shots of whiskey and…was it three pints of cider and two pints of lager or the other way around? Who cares? The important thing is to have fun. Celebrate! The skull-splitting headache and gut-churning nausea will sort themselves out in the morning.

Unfortunately, it was morning. Early morning. And my skull-splitting headache was making it really hard to focus on the gut-churning nausea. Which was a shame, since the gut-churning nausea was threatening to erupt in a pretty unpleasant way.

[/box]

At first, I wasn’t sure I liked the first paragraph. It lectured me. It talked TO me. That’s not supposed to happen, my brain told me. I told my brain to get over it because something about the voice drew me in. The second paragraph struck a definite chord with me. Who hasn’t had a night where they celebrated too much? Bam, immediately I have a connection to the magical world and consequences of using too much magic, and by the third paragraph I have a firm idea of the protagonist’s point of view and basic personality. Talk about falling in love…I read on with a glint in my eyes and a smile on my lips.

Through the entire story, I was along for the ride. Lani told ME her story. It’s as though I was one of her friends…a good friend who came over for a drink on a Saturday night to hear all about Lani’s first week at work.

Beneath the voice is a nice, cozy little mystery with clues sprinkled through out. It’s so well done I got to the end and thought “oh! I should have known that!” and slapped my forehead. It was fun, thinking back to the clues that were right in front of my face but which I’d let go unnoticed while paying attention to other things. That’s the mark of a good mystery, I think.

I also loved that there was a hint of romance in this. It’s not the focal point, but it’s enough to make Lani a real, rounded character and give those who love romance something to chew on.

If you’re looking for a light, cozy mystery with magic and humor, give this a try.

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