Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Book Review: Unbidden Magic 1-4 by Marilee Brothers

Note: This review is about books 1 -4 of the Unbidden Magic series. I'll try to keep any spoilers to a minimum, but in order to explain some of the series' pros and cons I'll have to talk about plot elements that aren't necessarily a spoiler element for that specific book, but might be for previous books. If you want reviews specific to each book, I have each review available on Goodreads and I'll link to them at the end of the review.

If you're looking for a book that's as good or better than Marissa Marr's Wicked Lovely or Holly Black's Modern Fairy Tale series, then you'll probably want to look elsewhere. While I would say that this is an overall enjoyable read, it's not something that I'd consider on that level. It's what I'd typically call a "cupcake" or "potato chip" type of book. It's not the meatiest or most "filling" of books, but it's enjoyable and you just can't help but keep going regardless of this fact and you really can't overly dislike the book for being what it ultimately is. I'm sure that just about every reader can name a few books they've read that fall into this category.

Overall this series is pretty good and the strongest part of the series is easily its main character of Allie. She's cute without being of the "I'm so ugly despite guys telling me I'm so gorgeous" persuasion and she is willing to kick a little butt while being understandably reluctant to do so. Even with some of the later flaws of the series, you'll continue to find yourself rooting for her and liking her, which is really the most important thing of any book. Likable characters keep you reading. There's definitely some characters that I felt could've been more and feel pretty underdeveloped, but there's also a lot of intriguing characters that I really liked as well. One of these characters is Sammie, who was introduced in book 4, Shadow Moon.

Where the series hits rough patches is in its pacing. Throughout the series the books feel as if they were written in the spur of the moment rather than plotted out beforehand. This might not have been as big of an issue except that in the third book the series seems to swerve to incorporate other plot elements that felt like they came out of nowhere and wasn't as developed as it should have been. By this I mean the introduction of faeries into the series. It's is later used as an explanation for certain people and groups in the series, but I really wish that it'd been more
properly developed in earlier novels because its introduction felt pretty unsatisfying. It's so suddenly introduced and such a predominant part of book three that it almost felt like it was something that Brothers thought up or (just as likely) that her publishers thought should be added at the last minute.

The other gripe I had with the series was that nobody stays with anyone in this series. This is a pretty big spoiler, but for the first three books there's a different love interest in each one. When I'd first read this in the book synopses, I was sort of looking forward to this. You sometimes see this with male characters that get a different girl every book ala James Bond, so why not have a female character who does the same? The only problem is that
none of the major characters in the series stays with a love interest and the way the breakups happen is for the most part all done off camera. This is somewhat changed in book four, but it's still a little frustrating because different guys in different books makes it harder to develop one specific love interest over time. (Although I feel the sorriest for poor Faye, especially in book three when she actually dates a decent guy for once.)

Despite my complaints about the series, I can't help but keep reading the series. I do wish that the plot elements were better paced and developed, but Brothers has an addicting style of writing that is undeniably fun to read. I'd still pick up the final book in the series and ultimately it's something that I'd recommend to anyone looking for something to read inbetween other series. I might not recommend this as a "go out and buy right now" type of book, but if you see it on your library bookshelves be sure to snatch it up.

Overall series rating: 3 out of 5 stars

(Arcs provided by Netgalley)

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