Don't Judge a Book By Its Magic

Rated 4.50/5 based on 2 reviews
Colleen is normal...well, except it turns out she's a magician. Trouble is, she's morally opposed to it; no hexes, spells, incantations, eye of newt. Despite “how it’s done” she won't cave in to pressure. At Seattle Pacific Regional University she joins The Convergence. She'll learn the freaky side of Work Study, Financial Aid, and Vyxhepiocht. Seriously, she's never seen so many hot guys. More

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Words: 56,780
Language: English
ISBN: 9781301431533
About Kate Policani

Hello, My name is Kate Policani, and I’m a compulsive fiction writer. My first story was called “Super Cat”. It wasn’t good, it was horribly spelled, and the idea was mostly plagiarized. Every journal I own begins with a few days of my life and the rest is a hastily-scrawled record of whatever story came out. Ideas come from my dreams. I think about my stories in bed as I drift off to sleep. I often wake at three am with a writing revelation. I might be dreaming up romance stories in the line at the DMV or texting a poignant line for my main character to my email address from the bathroom at the mall. I live in Seattle, Washington with my wonderful husband and three energetic children. Most of my writing is done to the sound of my children’s voices, and is interrupted every few sentences. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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Review by: igoulton on Dec. 05, 2012 :
After discovering a strange book (imaginatively called 'The Book') in her local library, Seattle high school graduate Colleen Underhill starts seeing visions. Her first thought is that she has gone insane. She soon finds out that she is 'broadcasting' and gets into trouble when she won't say a simple spell to prevent this, because taking part in magic and witchcraft is against her Christian faith.

Colleen is immediately whisked away to Seattle Pacific Regional University (‘sproo’ to the students), where she learns that Tximar energy flows through everyone, like the concept of Chi energy, but is like the old Magic eye books in that it can't be seen by everyone. Reading The Book has unleashed this previously-unknown power in her (unfortunately, The Book is never mentioned after the beginning, which seemed a bit strange in hindsight). It is working in the spirit realm, but even the professors are unsure what spirits—which makes Colleen even more reluctant to use spells.

What follows is Colleen's first-person account of her first months at Sproo, learning about Teimnydduus and Txenar. adjusting to the new rules, joining the Sproo version of a sorority, getting her first boyfriend, singing in the music show and working out how to deal with unexpected financial issues.

It's well-written with believable characters, a well-thought-through back story, an interesting plot and some very good imagery (e.g. “her shoes resembled government building architecture”). It’s a quick and enjoyable read, incorporating elements of the worlds of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but there were some problems.

The first problem is the language. As in other fantasy books, the author has invented a range of words to describe concepts outside our everyday reality. But these aren't words like 'muggle' or 'hobbit' that are easily written and pronounced in English. These words look like a combination of Welsh and Anglicised Greek, words like ‘Skupdyn’ and ‘tiemnydduus’. I have no idea how to even begin pronouncing that. Is the 'dd' a 'th' sound, as it is in Welsh, or a 'dd' as it is in English words like 'hidden'? (At one point, Colleen comments that many of the words were ‘spit-rich’, indicating to me that the language is definitely Welsh.)

The author does at least acknowledge this problem, saying “The author spelled all the terminology in the book so outrageously. It felt like the author wanted to mess with his readers by making up names for things that were impossible to pronounce.” There was a glossary at the beginning, but this is easier to access in a paper book than an ebook. The story got very interesting very quickly, and trying to work out which T-word was what was confusing and just slowed the story down.

Did it work as a Christian novel? Yes, and no. While there was nothing anti-Christian, it changed tack part-way through, moving away from the spiritual aspect of The Convergence into a teenage dating and relationship focus. There was insufficient discussion around whether the spirits or forces being used for magic were good or not, and I think this needed to be made clearer.

And then the book just ended. It wasn't even a cliffhanger (although it left a fair few things unresolved), but it wasn't a clear ending either. I don't mind a series, but I like each book to contain a complete story arc, and to finish at a natural place. This didn’t. Enjoyable while it lasted, but there was something missing.

Thanks to Kate Policani for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Kate Policani at her website.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: gaele hi on Nov. 14, 2012 :
This was a clever and funny, page-turning read. Once you get past the lack of vowels in the various names for magic, spells and witches that the Convergence have deemed as “politically correct”, the story continues with the unique twist on the basic witchcraft / wiccan paranormal story.

Colleen is addicted to books, considers herself a Rubenesque redhead with hazel eyes, and is planning on relaxing during this last summer before starting at community college. All that changes when she finds a book that opens a whole new world to her, and her ‘hidden powers’ are revealed. Far from being a smooth transition, Colleen is poofed off to the SPRU to begin her adventure.

Written with a smooth hand and a sense of humor that instantly endears Colleen to the reader, we are treated to her sarcastic quick wit that never quite leaves her even in times of stress. Characters are introduced and developed in a way that both serves the plot and develops them with characteristics that are found in many people you would meet on the street. In addition, the author has included photos from sites around Seattle that decorate the pages as well as provide an “I didn’t know that” moment to readers who may not be familiar with the city.

This is a book that is perfectly suitable for a young adult reader as well as adults: while there are romances, they are mostly chaste and reside in the realm of adoration/flirtation rather than adult situations. Colleen also is far different from other newcomers to witchcraft that we are previously acquainted with, as she refuses to speak spells preferring not to mess with the natural order of the world. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, giggled often as I was reading, and will anxiously await the next steps in the story.

I received an eBook copy of this book from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review, and all conclusions are my own responsibility.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

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