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Modern Magic Paperback – February 15, 2009
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I love it! The magic framework is well worked out, the writing is apt, and the crises are scary . . . . this is a fun novel. --Piers Anthony
Modern Magic is well-written, with great characters and an excellent handling of action and suspense. I literally found it hard to put it down . . . and many, many lines made me laugh.
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Top Customer Reviews
I thought the book was great! I was actually looking for flaws while reading it. I like to be critical in my reviews, even books I absolutely love, I like to offer up advice or point out something that could be done better, but I just couldn't find anything while reading this. At first, I thought I wasn't going to like the main characters. They were a little bitter during the first chapter, but it seems the author just wanted the reader to understand the sibling rivalry the characters grew up with. The last line of the first chapter erased all my doubt though, and I cared very much for the characters afterward. Then I thought I wouldn't like the story cycle format, but I soon realized that this format allowed the action to remain constant while remaining believable. Then about midway through the book, I thought I finally found the flaw. I had the story all figured out. Too easy I thought, it was all too obvious. But guess what? I was wrong again! The ending took me completely by surprise.
So what can I say? The book is great! The characters, the story, the writing. All of it. Consider me a huge Anne Cordwainer fan from now on. Fans of urban fantasy should definitely look into Modern Magic. But if you're not a fan of urban fantasy, don't let the stop you from missing out on this one!
by Anne Cordwainer
I've been a fan of "urban fantasy" since before I knew it had a name. Sometime in middle school I left behind the "high fantasy" of wizards and dragons, having developed a preference for science fiction's starships and aliens, but I never lost my taste for stories of the supernatural set in the modern world we live in. Most Stephen King fits into this niche, as well as Alan Dean Foster's /Into the Out Of/, which involves the demons known to the African Masai tribe as "shetani". And when I discovered Charles DeLint a few years ago, I was in fantasy heaven. So Anne Cordwainer's /Modern Magic/ is right up my alley. The premise is similar to that of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series: that magic-users live among us in secret.
The novel, called "a story cycle" on the cover, is comprised of "episodes" that span a decade from 1998 to 2009. The first-person narrative alternates between Liz Prospero, the only non-magical daughter of a renowned sorcerous family (Rowling would call her a "squib"), and her brother John, who is graduating from sorcerer college at the beginning of the book. As the story progresses, Cordwainer's world-building comes into focus as each episode deals with renegade sorcerers abusing their power and how they are dealt with by the rest of the magical community. For centuries sorcerers have relied on the "family honor" system to keep themselves ethical, with apprehended miscreants being turned over to their families for discipline. But with the sorcerer population having grown, magical crime is on the rise and the system of "family honor" is proving inadequate to the task - some begin to believe that the community must come together and organize a formal justice system for sorcerers before the entire magical world devolves into anarchy. There is apparently more to this setting than the novel alone; an end note after the story advises the reader to check annecordwainer.com for more stories in the same world, as well as details about events only briefly described as back story in the novel.
While the novel's episodes appear at first to be a series of independent stories, they develop an arc in which incidents involving criminal sorcerers escalate in seriousness until the situation seems almost hopeless. Admittedly I'm not the most perceptive reader, but the writer kept me in the dark enough that I did not see the reveal of the villain coming, though it was set up fairly early in the novel. The characters have their own development arcs as well: Liz at first wants as little to do with her family as possible, resenting their superior power and her own apparent inadequacy, but by the end she accepts her family and her place in it, and realizes that she has something to contribute to sorcerer society despite her own lack of magical ability. John has great power but is cautious to a fault about the possibility of abusing it; he slowly grows to find confidence both in his power and his judgment.
Overall I'm satisfied with the book; I enjoyed the read (which occupied most of an afternoon, about four or five hours) and on a five-star scale I'd give it four. I reserve five-star ratings for the truly sublime, but /Modern Magic/ is pretty d**n good. Nicely done, Cordwainer (if that is your real name); I'm interested to see what you turn out next.
With a rise in renegade sorcerers the magical community has to band together and figure out a way to move into the modern world when banishing renegades to their family heads is increasingly becoming another problem rather than the solution.
Modern Magic is a story cycle which is several short stories spanning 11 years with the Prospero family. This was my first book written this way and I absolutely loved it. It made for quick reading and pretty much every chapter is jammed packed with the action because there's not a lot of extra story line needed to fill pages. I love that you get to know both main characters and quite a few secondary characters in detail even with these quick stories arcs. You even get to see most of them grow into adulthood and their respective responsibilities.
Each of the twelve stories all tie together neatly at the end with plenty of surprises throughout. The ending was a complete shocker that I never figured out. It had me so amazed that I almost felt like going back and re-reading just so I could see if there were any clues I missed. This book was a lot of fun and I can't wait to read more from Cordwainer. I recommend it to anyone who loves Urban Fantasy or a great surprise ending.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"Modern Magic" is a unique book that is comprised of short story cycles revolving around a world of magic, set within contemporary times.Read more