Review: Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco

 


Title: Wicked As You Wish (A Hundred Names for Magic #1)

Author: Rin Chupeco

Published: March 3rd 2020, Sourcebooks Fire

Status: Read March 2020, courtesy Sourcebooks/Netgalley

++++++

My Thoughts:

 

While browsing for a novel to suit the SwordsNStars challenge, the publicity tagline for Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco caught my attention.

“An unforgettable alternate history fairy-tale series about found family, modern-day magic, and finding the place you belong.”

The story begins in The Royal States of America, where Prince Alexei of Avalon is in hiding from The Snow Queen, waiting until he is found by the Firebird, so that he at last will have the power to renter his lands and claim his throne. When the Firebird finally appears, Alex, along with his best friend Tala – who has a rare ability to repel and negate magic – and a group of other young magic wielders, set out on a dangerous journey to Avalon to reclaim it from the Snow Queen’s deadly magic.

There’s a lot to like in Wicked As You Wish. It offers plenty of fast paced action, a diverse cast of characters, humour, intrigue, and a unique mix of political and cultural elements taken from both the modern world and the world of fairytales and legends.

But the world Chupeco has created is very ambitious and to be honest I struggled to make complete sense of it. Eventually I just had to sort of overlook the finer details and simply go along for the ride.

If you are willing to do the same, I expect you’ll enjoy Wicked As You Wish, as I did, but I think it’s fair to say it won’t be for everyone.

++++++

Available from Sourcebooks

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Review: The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold

Title: The Last Smile in Sunder City (The Fetch Phillips Archives #1}

Author: Luke Arnold

Published: January 28 2020, Orbit

Status: Read February 2020, courtesy Hachette Au

++++++

My Thoughts:

Imaginative and entertaining, The Last Smile in Sunder City is the first book in an urban fantasy series from debut novelist Luke Arnold.

“The magic had vanished and the world that magic had built was tearing itself apart…”

Six years ago, a war between The Humanitarian Army (representing the humans) and The Opus (representing the world’s magic creatures) destroyed magic. Known as The Coda, the event resulted in catastrophe in Sunder City. Without magic to sustain them, Elves rapidly aged and died, Were’s were left as half-transformed freaks, Vampires withered as they starved, while other creatures shed scales, or fur, or skin, and to the disadvantage of all, machinery and technology, once infused or forged with magic, stopped working. Arnold has created a bleak, gritty and imaginative world, with ‘Man For Hire’ Fletch Phillips at its center.

Fletch Phillips embodies the traits of a traditional noir P.I. in that he is a morose, down-on-his-luck, functional alcoholic who sleeps on a fold down bed in his dingy office. An orphan who lost his parents in horrific circumstances, Fletch once lived in a caring but closed community which he fled at eighteen to explore the wider world he half-remembered. He is terribly flawed, but not quite yet irredeemably, and I found him quite likeable. His journey from curious runaway teen, to guilt-ridden Man For Hire sporting three significant tattoo’s on his arm, is the subject of several flashbacks through the novel, which also eventually explains his role in the death of magic.

It’s not (metaphorically speaking) a blonde bombshell that walks into Fletch’s office to launch the story, it’s the headmaster of a local school searching for his friend and colleague – a centuries old, and ailing vampire. Fletch’s search leads him through the seedy streets of Sunder City, occasionally getting in they way of the police, (whom mostly despise him), and generally making more enemies than friends. I thought the mystery was fairly well plotted, though not particularly complex, and I would have preferred Fletch investigate more actively than he seemed to. I was also perhaps a little disappointed with the lack of action in the plot overall, but am prepared to forgive that given the need for Arnold to create the foundation of both the setting and character.

The Last Smile In Sunder City is a robust beginning to what I believe has the potential to be a popular fantasy series. I found it to be an easy and engaging read.

++++++

Available from Hachette Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

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Review: Infinity Son {Infinity Cycle #1} by Adam Silvera

Title: Infinity Son {Infinity Cycle #1}

Author: Adam Silvera

Published: January 20th 2020, Simon & Schuster Au

Status: Read January 2020, courtesy Simon & Schuster Au

++++++

My Thoughts:

Infinity Son is Adam Silvera’s fifth book, but his first foray into the fantasy genre. It’s the beginning of a trilogy titled Infinity Cycle, featuring brothers Emil and Brighton caught up in a magical war.

The physical setting for Infinity Son is based in urban New York, and while the population of Silvera’s fantasy world is human, a small percentage are known as Celestials, who may act as Spell Walkers, whom are born with inherited powers that usually manifest during childhood, or Specters, who may act as Blood Casters, whom gain their abilities with alchemy derived from murdering magical creatures like hydra’s, basilisks or phoenixes.

In New York at least, the Celestials and Specters are enemies, and both groups are generally reviled by the current government, who seek to imprison or control them, so when Emil unexpectedly manifests extraordinary powers in defence of Brighton when attacked by a Specter, the brothers, along with their mother and close friend, are forced into hiding with a group of Spell Walkers.

There are more shocks in store for Emil, and he struggles to accept his new role, especially as the situation with the Specters escalates. Meanwhile Brighton, desperate to contribute, uses his social media savvy in an attempt to restore the Spell Walkers reputation, but the reflected glory is not enough to satisfy him long.

Though Emil and Brighton are the central characters, Infinity Son unfolds from a number of other viewpoints, including Spell Walker, Maribelle, and Ness, a Specter. It’s a diverse cast, which includes male and female queer characters, and persons of colour, who I enjoyed getting to know, but I do think it was perhaps a little ambitious of Silvera to introduce so many. There is a general lack of nuance, where the characters are defined by a single trait, rather than having a well-rounded personality.

The plot is fairly simple, Silvera utilises the familiar ‘chosen one’ trope with the inevitable battles between good vs evil. There’s a touch of sibling rivalry, a suggestion of star-crossed lovers, and unexpectedly for the genre, a whole lot of social media. Infinity Son also offers plenty of action, and the story is generally fast-paced.

To be honest, the magic structure of the world feels like a slightly messy mash up of Harry Potter, X-Men, and (CW channel) superheroes. I think in part this is because Silvera provides very little in the way of exposition, and I struggled at times to connect, and make sense of, the scattered information. I’m fairly sure I figured out the basics, but there were a few elements that remain inexplicable.

Despite its flaws, I did enjoy Infinity Son, and I think the Infinity Cycle trilogy has potential as long as Silvera (or his editor) can rein in the obvious enthusiasm, which is what has led to this somewhat scattershot result.

++++++

Available from Simon & Schuster Australia

Or your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound