Thursday, June 16, 2011

Uncommon Magic by Michelle Scott

Uncommon Magic by Michelle Scott was an unexpected treat to read and why I do not might reviewing independent authors. Michelle Scott has crafted a narrative of remarkable clarity with some interesting plotting, clever story construction and fun setting.

Uncommon Magic is what I would consider Young Adult Fantasy. The story is centered around the main character and protagonist,Mira, and her relationships with her brother Liam and boyfriend Jess. The story takes place in an original fantasy world where magicians are a ruling class and mechanical technology is strictly controlled. The friction between these two competing ideologies serves as the antagonist and drives the plot forward.

I particularly enjoyed the interplay between magic and technology. I thought Michelle had some insightful and realistic ideas of how the lack of simple mechanical devices like pulley’s and door latches would alter people’s daily lives. This helps develop the atmosphere of tension that exists between the ‘normals’, non magic people, and the magicians. It also drives home the repressive qualities of the magicians regime every time a ‘normal’s’ life is made more difficult due to the restrictions of mechanical technology.

The story construction I felt was particularly clever. In order to tie this interesting world and the conflict between technology and magic, Michelle made each of the main characters representative of the various ideologies. Mira is a neutral character. She cares not for the politics. Jess, the boyfriend, is discovered to be a magician. Liam, Mira’s brother, is a gifted inventor. As you can see, the story characters neatly represent the larger plot and world. Ultimately, it is this friction that drives the plot forward. Mira must make decide between family and love.

The plotting was also very fun. Every character tends to have two sides. Just as Mira gets to know a character, suddenly their other side is revealed and the plot shifts in a new direction. I thought this was an enjoyable way to consistently reinforce the magic versus technology friction. This leaves Mira in a state of constant change and confusion. She is not sure who/what is good and who/what is bad. This also leaves you as a reader constantly guessing.

If this was not enough, Michelle also introduces two characters to act as foils to Liam and Jess. To contrast Liam’s benevolent inventor persona...a violent inventory character is introduced. To contrast Jess’s haughty magician persona and recently a dirty peasant...a humble and royal magician is introduced. This helps balance the story, providing Mira evidence that both magic and technology have both good and bad aspects.

Driving all of this story is the very clear prose. I thought Michelle was very good at developing a rhythm to her work; alternating between long sentences and short sentences. The diction choice tended to be simple but with the occasional uncommon word thrown in to spice things up. The pacing and tempo of the book also stays very brisk. There are no slow points. No lingering descriptions. The story stays on track and keeps its destination in mind. If Young Adult was her target audience, I think she did a great job bringing clear but still very fun writing to this book.

I think Uncommon Magic by Michelle Scott is a very successful book. It is not something I would normally read, nor would I consider it one of my favorite reads. But, I can appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the book and that is what I enjoyed the most. Uncommon Magic is a clever and fun read.

Amazon: Uncommon Magic by Michelle Scott
Image Source: Amazon
Review Copy: Self Purchased ebook

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