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Monday, July 21, 2014

82) Magic City : Recent Spells

The Blurb :

Bright lights, big city... magic spells, witchcraft, wizardry, fairies, devilry, and more. Urban living, at least in fantasy fiction, is full of both magical wonder and dark enchantment. Street kids may have supernatural beings to protect them or have such powers themselves. Brujeria may be part of your way of life.

Crimes can be caused (and solved) with occult arts and even a losing sports team's "curse" can be lifted with wizardry. And be careful of what cab you call - it might take you on a journey beyond belief! Some of the best stories of urban enchantment from the last few years is gathered in one volume full of hex appeal and arcane arts.

My Thoughts :

Anyone who follows my blog and reads my Currently Reading posts will know that this book has been defeating me for weeks.   I started reading the book one day and got to the halfway mark and had to take a break.  The book is nearly 500 pages thick and it doesn't matter if you read it on a Kindle, the book still feels heavy after a while.  I should have gone back to this one straight away and just got it over and done with but I wasn't enjoying it very much and kept putting it off.  After weeks of conveniently forgetting about this one I finally sat down with it and practically sped read the remaining stories.  There isn't anything very magical about this Magic City anthology if you ask me.

I am constantly being tricked into reading anthologies.  Despite hating the majority of these compilations I still get pulled in by the big names on the covers.  Who can pass up some short stories written by your favourite authors?  There is a chance that the story relates to that amazing series you have been following.   Could there be a new series in the making just because of this short story?  The possibilities of an anthology are endless and there are always some authors involved that you always wanted to try and some you may love and have never heard of before.  Nothing to lose?  Except a few hours of your life/reading time.

Now not all the stories in this book were bad.  Some were good.  It was just really hard to get through the bad ones because there were more of them.  That isn't to say that everyone would hate them.  I am pretty sure there are people out there who read this anthology and gave it a wonderful review.  I am not one of those people and I feel sorry for all the writers involved because I can tell they made an effort.  It can't be easy putting together a short story and being limited to what would usually be a couple of chapters in a full length novel.

The concept was lost on me but the start of each story began with the location of the tale and what kind of magic would be involved.  I didn't find this very helpful but it was a nice touch.  The first installment was by Simon R. Green and it was a good start.  It gave me hope that this would be a nice selection. However the next five stories were ones I could have skipped.  Nice ideas but they were either rushed or tried to be to extravagant.

Patricia Briggs saved my faith in the book with her 'Seeing Eye'.  I have been a fan of the author for years and wouldn't mind seeing her open this story into a series.  The next three stories were ok but nothing to write about.  They kept me reading and I was at the halfway mark and took that dreaded break.  With only two great stories so far you can understand the problem I had going back to this one.  Luckily the next story was a good one and I kept reading till the end.

'The Arcane Art of Misdirection' by Carrie Vaughn was an interesting read.  I got a little confused along the way but it all worked out in the end and I liked it.  It was unusual and felt like a prequel for something else.  Maybe the author will be taking us to Vegas more often.  The rest of the stories in this anthology were not to my liking.  Little known authors and stories that didn't grab my attention.   There were two more stories worth pointing out though.  They were worth reading.

'Kabu Kabu' by Nnedi Okorafor was a little crazy but kind of fun to read.  I knew what would happen in the end but that didn't stop me for going along for the ride in this gypsy taxi.  I won't be looking to read anything else by the author but this story is definitely one of the better reads in Magic City and deserves a mention.  

Most likely the best read in the book and one of the biggest names on the cover was 'Curses' by Jim Butcher.  I am embarrassed to admit that I haven't visited this series for a good couple of years and really need to get back into it.  This short story not only made me kick myself for not reading the series more often but it also reminded me how great the series is.  Harry Dresden rocks and this story did too.  I may just be a little biased because of the Welsh references in the story but it was enjoyable and I am going to dust off my Harry Dresden books asap.

All in all this was a mixed bag.  I rarely come across an anthology that I give a glowing review to but with so many different authors, ideas and styles it is hard to find a collection that fits together well and is going to be worth reading all the way through.  A fifth of Magic City is great where as the rest is so so.  If you see more than five authors on the list that you really love then take the chance but do expect to be disappointed by the rest.

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