Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review | Dark Magic by James Swain

Dark Magic
James Swain
Published May 22, 2012 by Tom Doherty Associates (Macmillan)
Mystery/urban fantasy
1 star
eARC from NetGalley

Bite-Sized Review
Dark Magic had a reasonably interesting premise, but in the execution it turned out to be just...boring.

King-Sized Review
Peter Warren is a famous stage magician by day, but by night he's a real psychic, the leader of a group of similarly talented people who try to protect the city of New York by looking into the future to see upcoming threats. However, when they see an attack that threatens millions of lives, Peter finds himself more directly involved than he ever planned.

I've had such a hard time writing this review. As you can tell, it wasn't really my cup of tea; it wasn't terribly written or anything, but because of a combination of factors, I had a really hard time finishing it.

First, the characters. Every one of them was dull and one-dimensional. People kept talking about Peter's temper and how dangerous he could be when he was angry, but I never saw any hint of that from him. He was utterly bland: friendly, generous, meticulous, probably a nice guy to know in real life, but not a very interesting character. He could have been Batman! He had the obscenely wealthy, parents murdered, trying to fight crime story going for him. And I guess you could say he was like Batman, except Adam West's Batman from the really cheesy live-action TV show from the 60s rather than Christian Bale's gritty, fascinating modern version. And the book wasn't self-aware enough to parody itself like the TV show did.

None of the other characters was any more interesting. The female characters were just absurd. They were shallow and useless, definitely Too Stupid to Live. Peter's girlfriend couldn't stick to a decision to save her life, and changed her mind about being with him at least twice for no apparent reason. But of course, being a wonderful and forgiving person, he forgave her immediately. I could say more, but since I'm starting to sound sarcastic, I should probably stop there.

The book was written more like a mystery than an urban fantasy. It's kind of a hard distinction to define, but as I'm not a fan of mysteries in general, that quality did not endear the story to me. There was no internal conflict, which I find crucial to a story, and the main storyline really seemed to plod along. The good guys were paragons of virtue, while the bad guys were evil incarnate. There was no suspense because there was never any question of how things were going to end, and I didn't care enough about any of the characters to be concerned that they might die. Basically, it really wasn't for me.

Quality: Fair
Enjoyability: Troll

1 comment:

  1. Really liked your honest review, and I laughed at the Enjoyability: Troll part :P. I also hate shallow, one-dimensional characters who think they're interesting/wonderful but are, in fact, annoying and extremely boring. Great review!


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