Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Review - The Magician's Daughter - Poisoned Pen Press

The Magician’s Daughter

Author: Judith Janeway
First Edition 2015  Pages: 227
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2014951265
ISBN: 9781464203381      Hardcover  9781464203404      Trade Paperback
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press

This is not a book for a lazy afternoon. You must be alert and be willing to focus on a very hypnotizing story, and you will be rewarded.

A lot of us prefer details. We want a painting to emerge before the action takes place.

But this is a different kind of book altogether. Every sentence has energy and unpredictability. And that means if your attention wavers, you’re going to lose something important. Other words that come to mind: laconic, staccato, brevity, précis …  you get the idea. The author weaves a spell, and quite like magic, nothing is as it seems.

A young magician Valentine Hill searches for her mother, and her entire past for that matter. There’s not much maternal about her mother, as we discover, but the world has such people so one must reluctantly accept that broken stereotypes are more realistic. The plot is unusual and the characters distinct. There is nothing weepy about anyone, and in a few short but telling words, the author is able to give a person a clear identity. Ironically enough, Valentine has none, except twenty seven library cards.

The action in San Francisco involves a scam, FBI agents on the prowl and a light touch of romance. Nobody seems to be who he or she says they are, except Valentine. Bloodshed is matter-of-fact and the author does not spend too much time on related incidents, which suited this reader quite well. The protagonist is hyper, extremely intelligent and has a code of ethics given to her by her Aunt June that she refers to again and again. An unusual taxi driver, a long-lost ‘uncle’, a scam – these are some elements that complete the plot

The author, as mentioned before, uses very tight language. It sometimes trips you a little too sharply. The reader is challenged, which is a good thing.

I have two very tiny quibbles, neither of them of any great significance. First, the use of the name of a man for a woman and the other way around too. It seems unnecessary in an already high-speed book with many details to keep track of. And there is a flight number that’s wrong – I checked!

If I were asked for a blurb, I might say - 'Hypnotic story-telling... casts a spell ... '

Four out of five for this book!

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