Tag Archives: magical realism

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two people haunted by the past on a small island town find dark secrets emerging as strange happenings unearth the magic and folklore that their town has been steeped into for years in author Adrienne Young’s “Spells for Forgetting”.

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The Synopsis

A deeply atmospheric story about ancestral magic, an unsolved murder, and a second chance at true love.

Emery Blackwood’s life changed forever the night her best friend was found dead and the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her. Years later, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence on the misty, remote shores of Saoirse Island and running the family’s business, Blackwood’s Tea Shoppe Herbal Tonics & Tea Leaf Readings.

But when the island, rooted in folklore and magic, begins to show signs of strange happenings, Emery knows that something is coming. The morning she wakes to find that every single tree on Saoirse has turned color in a single night, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that the town has tried desperately to forget.

August knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night everything changed. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from his past that has never healed—Emery.

The town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises spanning generations threaten to reveal the truth behind Lily’s mysterious death once and for all.

The Review

This was such a powerful and captivating mystery thriller. The rich character-driven narrative really did an excellent job of elevating the atmosphere and emotional tone of the narrative. The air of suspicion and secrets run deep in this small island town, and the seemingly small-knit community where everyone knows everyone suddenly becomes a bed of deceit in which everyone is a suspect, even those closest to the protagonists. The heated passion and unresolved feelings between both August and Emery add even more tension to this atmospheric thriller and keep readers invested in their divergent stories until they come together in unexpected ways.

For me, the rich and dynamic setting with the subtle yet the natural feeling way the author incorporated magic and fantasy into this narrative felt so alive on the page. The author did an incredible job of showcasing the concept of town secrets, local legends, and the power that secrets and lies can hold over us in life, and blended these themes into a years-long whodunnit that captivated the audience instantly. The atmosphere of this small town played well into the mystery both in the novel and the genre as a whole, as the story elevated the reader’s curiosity factor while also keeping them emotionally invested in these protagonists. 

The Verdict

Haunting, mesmerizing, and entertaining, author Adrienne Young’s “Spells for Forgetting” is a must-read fantasy and murder mystery read. The passionate character development and ideas of destiny and the power of local legends played well with the diverse cast of characters and the sheer volume of twists and turns that will keep readers shocked for days after reading the final pages of this incredible story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Adrienne Young is the New York Times and international bestselling author of the Sky and Sea duology, the Fable series, and Spells for Forgetting. When she’s not writing, you can find Adrienne on her yoga mat, on a walk in the woods, or planning her next travel adventure. She lives and writes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

For information on release, appearances, ARCs, giveaways, and exclusive content, sign up for the newsletter at https://adrienneyoungbooks.com/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09KXHWTFR/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F59559145-spells-for-forgetting%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3DHaIR5IjRig%26rank%3D1&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Tarja Titan: A Terrian Chronicles Novel by TC Marti Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman seeking to find others like herself discovers the school of elementals she just joined will show her how different she is even among her fellow elementals, and two dark factions will rise in response in author TC Marti’s “Tarja Titan”, the first book in The Terrian Chronicles series. 

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The Synopsis

Abused and neglected for nearly a decade, Tarja Titan always longed for a home…

But she didn’t anticipate the reception she’d receive upon her return to a world she thought only existed in fiction.

Tarja has always been different. And when she enrolls in Celestial University of the Northeast, she’s elated to mingle with other Elementals, a race of supernaturals with the ability to control one of the nine elements.

Problem is, Tarja’s different even among Elemental standards. It was something she neither anticipated nor wanted, but if she refuses to seek out her calling, TWO dark factions will rise.

This isn’t your classic good v. evil; something Tarja learns the hard way.

The Review

Immediately, from the book’s first pages, I was struck by the idea that this book was a cross between Cinderella, The Magicians, and A conspiracy thriller! The unique world-building and mythos were complimented by the author’s ability to capture the heart of the narrative and highlight the complex reality of life, showing that things are not always about good vs evil, but are far more often found in the shades of grey that surround us all. 

The magic, abilities, and setting of the story in this alternative history of our own world were a great vehicle for the author’s incredible character development. Tarja Titan was a brilliant protagonist, becoming the heart and soul of the story and representing the outsider who would become pivotal to a centuries-long battle so ideally. I loved her relationship with Braden Hawk, her godbrother who saves her from the torment she was living in to start of the novel. The mystery surrounding her backstory and the events that brought her such infamy among Elemental society was so fun and engaging to dive into, and the author’s pacing was perfect for bringing this part of her story to life at just the right speed. 

The Verdict

Captivating, entertaining, and mind-blowing, author TC Marti’s “Tarja Titan: A Terrian Chronicles Novel” is the perfect first chapter in a brand new metaphysical and magical realism alt-history series. The mixture of mystery, suspense, magic, school life, and shadowy organizations was amazing to see unfold on the pages of this book, and the shocking twist ending that leaves other character’s fates hanging in the balance will drive readers back into the series and eager to read book two. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

TC Marti has been an avid reader/writer for over three decades. He is the author of the Elementals Universe, a shared speculative fiction universe spanning multiple series. He is also a workout fanatic, and a fan of Arizona sports teams.

Airy Nothing by Clarissa Pattern Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two boys must traverse a magical London in search of friendship and acceptance in author Clarissa Pattern’s “Airy Nothing”.

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The Synopsis

When you’ve always been told you’re wrong, finding a place that accepts you can be the most magical thing in the world.

John has always seen things others could not see. He runs away to fabled London to find his fortune, but all he finds are grimy streets, rife with hangings and disease. BlackJack is a fast-talking pickpocket ready to show John a new life in the big city. When John first sees Shakespeare’s wondrous Globe theatre, he becomes convinced that this is where he truly belongs. But can BlackJack resist the urge to make some easy coin off of his new, naïve friend? And can John step up to the stage before the beast of the city swallows them both? AIRY NOTHING is a magical period tale of two boys finding friendship, love, and acceptance in seething Elizabethan London.

The Review

This was a remarkable read. The author did a great job of striking the perfect balance between the realism of the character growth and settings with the fantasy element of the magical realism the genre calls for. The way the author explores the world that exists just a shift away from our own world and how the protagonist deals with this world as he makes his way through the streets of London was so unique to see, and the magical nature of the narrative added to the heightened tone and emotions the author was delving into.

Character growth was very prominent in this narrative, and actually made the story what it was. The exploration of sexuality and identity in this narrative was so profound through John’s story, exploring the world’s perspective of a person and standing this against the feelings, emotions, and internal knowledge that a person has about their own selves. The complex relationship not only between John and the magical world of the fae around him but between him and Jack was so moving and kept the reader invested in this story.

The Verdict

Captivating, entertaining, and hauntingly beautiful, author Clarissa Pattern’s “Airy Nothing” is a must-read magical realism novel. The breathtaking scenery and atmosphere the author created mirrored the fantasy and emotional character growth that brought real people to live in a world that feels so much like our own world and really created a gripping story that readers wouldn’t be able to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Clarissa Pattern studied English language and literature at the University of Oxford and has lived in the Oxfordshire area ever since. She has been writing ever since she could hold crayons and scribble across the wallpaper. Aside from writing, she spends as much time with her kids as they’ll put up with, ignores almost all the housework, and has an ever-increasing list of books she’s frantic to read. Her stories have been published in various anthologies over the years, and in August 2021, she released her first novel, a magical, historical YA called Airy Nothing.

Below Torrential Hill by Jonathan Koven Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young man struggling with his father’s death years earlier and his crumbling family life finds himself facing strange occurrences in author Jonathan Koven’s “Below Torrential Hill”, a unique and emotional literary fiction read with a hint of magical realism.

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The Synopsis

It’s Christmas, and strange occurrences are plaguing the small town of Torrential Hill: a supernatural comet, undead insects, exploding streetlights, and a presence luring people into the woods. But when the mother of Tristen—a wistful, fatherless sixteen-year-old boy—hears voices from the kitchen sink, all he can think of is running away.

The Review

This was such a moving and powerful coming-of-age story! The author did such an incredible job of crafting relatable and emotional characters for readers to become invested in while layering their narratives to get a much better understanding of everyone’s motivations and struggles, especially protagonist Tristen. The balance of the author’s genres between magical realism and literary fiction felt absolutely seamless and natural, allowing the reader to become invested in the character’s arcs while still exploring the world the author had created.

What really stood out to me was the incredible way the author matched the atmosphere and setting to the protagonist’s journey, almost as if the character’s surroundings became a reflection of their own inner turmoil and the ups and downs they went through. I also was really impressed with the fine line the narrative played with magical realism, as it allowed enough room for the reader to kind of draw their own conclusions from this aspect of the story, and kind of put a whole-new modern-day, coming-of-age twist on the classic Christmas Carol narrative. 

The Verdict

Heartfelt, thought-provoking, and mesmerizing, author Jonathan Koven’s “Below Torrential Hill” is a must-read short story/literary fiction read with a hint of magical realism. The connection readers feel to the main character is immediate, and the exploration of themes like our innate need for love, family, and dealing with loss all come together in a very heartening way. With a writing style that leans towards imagery and artistry, readers will be hard-pressed not to grab their own copy of this amazing read, so be sure to do so today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jonathan Koven grew up on Long Island, NY, embraced by tree-speak, tide’s rush, and the love and support of his family. He holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from American University, works as a technical writer, and freelance editor (and formerly head fiction editor of Toho Journal). He lives in Philadelphia with his best friend and future wife Delana, and cats Peanut Butter and Keebler. Read Jonathan’s debut chapbook Palm Lines, available from Toho Publishing, and his award-winning novella Below Torrential Hill, available from Electric Eclectic.

https://linktr.ee/jonathankoven

Before We Disappear by Shaun David Hutchinson Audiobook Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young man must decide between the woman who has given him a home and the young man who has stolen his heart in turn of the 19th century America in author Shaun David Hutchinson’s “Before We Disappear”. 

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The Synopsis

It’s a new star-crossed romance about the magic of first love from the acclaimed author of We Are the Ants and Brave Face, Shaun David Hutchinson.

Jack Nevin’s clever trickery and moral flexibility make him the perfect assistant to the Enchantress, one of the most well-known stage magicians in turn-of-the-nineteenth-century Europe. Without Jack’s steady supply of stolen tricks, the Enchantress’s fame would have burned out long ago.

But when Jack’s thievery catches up to them, they’re forced to flee to America to find their fortune. Luckily, the Enchantress is able to arrange a set of sold-out shows at Seattle’s Alaska–Yukon–Pacific World’s Fair Exposition. She’s convinced they’re going to rich and famous until a new magician arrives on the scene. Performing tricks that defy the imagination, Laszlo’s show overshadows the Enchantress, leaving Jack no choice but to hunt for the secrets to his otherworldly illusions. But what Jack uncovers isn’t at all what he expected.

Behind Laszlo’s tricks is Wilhelm—a boy that can seemingly perform real magic. Jack and Wilhelm have an instant connection, and as the rivalry between the Enchantress and Laszlo grows, so too does Jack and Wilhelm’s affection. But can Jack choose between the woman who gave him a life and the boy who is offering him everything?

It’s a stirring tale about the magic of love from award-winning author Shaun David Hutchinson.

The Review

This was such a magical read (pun intended)! The author does an incredible job of crafting an alternate history setting with a magical realism story element while still incorporating the hardships and struggles of not only that era but the struggles of the youth in the LGBTQ community. The theme of family and finding one’s place in the world was felt in every chapter of this book, and really captured the heart of the narrative.

The characters were so engaging to read. The alternating perspective of protagonists Jack and Willhelm were so interesting to see unfold, as they came from very different paths in life by the time they found one another, and yet found a sense of belonging and home within one another’s lives. The background of magic, both real and more illusion-based, was fascinating to see unfold, especially considering the era of the narrative.

The Verdict

A brilliant, heartfelt, and engaging YA Magical and LGBTQ Historical Fiction, author Shaun David Hutchinson’s “Before We Disappear” is a must-read (and listen) book of 2021.  The perfect book to grab as we head into the fall season, the balance of history, magic, and LGBTQ-forward romance was amazing to see in this novel, and I look forward to reading more of this amazing author’s work. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in West Palm Beach, Florida, Shaun grew up twenty minutes north in the town of Jupiter. He has three brothers (two older, one younger) and a half-sister.

Shaun attended Jupiter High School before going on to Florida Atlantic University, where he studied medieval and renaissance literature. Shaun has also studied emergency medicine, gaining his EMT certification, and firefighting. Ultimately, he ended up working with computers designing databases, building apps, and coding websites before publishing his first book, The Deathday Letter.

Shaun currently lives in Seattle, WA and works full time as an author. In his free time, he enjoys baking, running, designing 3D environments for virtual reality, and reading.

http://shaundavidhutchinson.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Before-We-Disappear/dp/B08TSPMKS2/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1632448823&sr=8-1

The Smoke in His Eyes by Shane Wilson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young musician who endures powerful hallucinations after witnessing a traumatic event as a child must discover where inspiration originates from in author Shane Wilson’s magical realism novel, “The Smoke In His Eyes”.

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The Synopsis

When TJ—a musical prodigy—witnesses a traumatic event as a child, his senses are overrun with intense hallucinations. Over the years, his visions increase in frequency and intensity, but he hides them from those he is closest to, including his best friend and musical partner, Lila, who challenges TJ to reject formulaic creation in order to create something beautiful and unique. But when Lila signs a record deal, TJ feels left behind and alone with his art and his visions.

That’s when TJ meets an artist named Muna. In his eyes and visions, Muna is made of smoke, and as this magical woman helps him learn how to manage his visions and how to translate what he sees and hears into music and lyrics, she begins to disappear. His journey into Muna’s past is a journey to discover where inspiration originates and what happens to an artist when that inspiration is gone.

The Review

A truly powerful and emotional read, the author does a great job of embracing the magical realism genre in this book. The novel does a fantastic job of establishing a fully realistic and heartbreaking world for protagonist TJ early on, as the reader not only sees the traumatic event unfold in his childhood but sees the signs of the troubled life TJ endures for most of his life. 

While the magical element of the story and the relationship developed with Muna becomes a crucial part of TJ’s journey, the real heart of the story is his relationship with Lila. The author does a great job of balancing the story by showcasing the emotional struggle of both TJ and Lila, seeing the relationship from both points of view as love and music intertwine their friendship and romance throughout the narrative. What really stands out is how the author is able to capture the darkness and emotional toll that creatives, especially musicians, often endure in life, and brings it into a magical realism world to help highlight the power behind some of the great inspirations musicians can endure. 

The Verdict

A breathtaking, expertly written, and emotionally-driven read, author Shane Wilson’s “The Smoke in His Eyes” is a must-read novel. An evenly-paced read that explores the complexities and emotions that often come from a musician’s journey to find inspiration and love, the author has crafted intimate and engaging narrative readers and fans of the magical realism genre will not want to miss. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in Alabama and raised in Georgia, Shane is a child of the southeastern United States where he feels simultaneously at-home and out-of-place. He graduated from Valdosta State University in south Georgia with a Masters in English. He taught college English in Georgia for four years before moving to North Carolina in 2013.

No matter the temperature outside, there is always an iced coffee in his hand when he walks into class in the mornings. He tends to chase the day with a whiskey and a re-run of The Office.

Shane has published poetry in Tethered by Letters and the Stonepile Writers’ Anthology, Volume III. He is currently at work on a new novel as well as a collection of short stories based on the mythos of and set in the same town as A Year Since the Rain.

https://www.shanewilsonauthor.com/

The Book of FU by Benjamin Davis Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

One author’s life story blends into a magical realism setting in one of the most creative poetry books I’ve read this year. I’m talking to you guys today about author and poet Benjamin Davis and his book, “The King of FU”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

The King of FU is a magically realistic poetic memoir about growing up in America in the nineties on the cusp of the age of the internet. It is a voyage that navigates through family tribalism, supervisors, white-gloved Sheriffs, bullies, sex, suicide, dead prisoners, drugs, porn, middle school, and Jesus; all in search of answering one of life’s greatest mysteries: what is the point of adults? This artistic masterpiece comes from the mind of author Benjamin Davis with illustrations by Russian artist Nikita Klimov.

The Review

This was a truly fun, compelling, humorous and engaging read. A healthy blend of the abstract with magical realism and a beautifully told poetic memoir, author Benjamin Davis has painted a often chilling, funny and realistic image of what the 90’s were like for kids growing up in the United States. 

You can feel the author’s struggle through some of life’s deepest challenges as he touches on themes of religion, death, family, abuse and so much more. The incredible illustrations by Nikita Klilmov help to bring the powerful themes and fantasy elements of the poetry to life. 

The Verdict

Overall this was a phenomenal read. The passion, creativity and often hilarious contrast between the view of the world through the eyes of a child versus that of an adult brought this one of a kind novel to a whole new level. The book itself was a fast and easy read, which worked well as it’s poetry was so engaging that putting it down was impossible. If you haven’t yet grab your copy of Benjamin Davis’s novel “The King of FU” today!

Rating: 10/10

Perfect for holiday gifting – Buy Online, Pick-up at your local Barnes & Noble store within an Hour!

About the Author

My name is Benjamin Davis. I am an American writer and Journalist living in St. Petersburg. I grew up in a no-name town in Massachusetts where I was more likely to hear horse sex or a pack of wolves eating a rabbit than cars driving by or drunks fighting, as I do now. I work as a freelance editor, tech-journalist, native-speaking-content-monkey, and social media manager for English speaking markets. To cope with the sterility of corporate writing, my fiction sometimes gets a little out of hand.

From 2016-2017, I wrote one story every day for a year for the project Flash-365, creating a community of people who appreciate the short-winded and the weird. To me it is where I found my voice and where most of my stories found their home.

May of 2018 my first book The King of FU was published: a magically realistic poetic memoir about growing up in America in the nineties on the cusp of the age of the internet. It is a voyage that navigates through family tribalism, supervisors, white-gloved Sheriffs, bullies, sex, suicide, dead prisoners, drugs, porn, middle school, and Jesus; all in search of answering one of life’s greatest mysteries: what is the point of adults? An artistic masterpiece with illustrations by Russian artist Nikita Klimov.

Instagram: instagram.com/davis.benjamin.s

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/benjamindavis

Personal website: benjamindaviswriter.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/benjamindaviswriter

Also, here is a landing page for the book, if you wouldn’t mind including that as well: