1. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell. Story: Among the millions living in New York City are those known as the Mageus, people born with powerful magical abilities, but they are trapped in the city by a magical barrier known as the “Brink.” If they cross the Brink, they lose their magic and their will to live. It was a powerful group known as the Order who made the Brink. Having no natural magic of their own, these wealthy men depend upon the power of “elemental magic” (alchemy, etc.). They despise the Mageus, and are determined to eliminate them. A Mageus named Professor Lachlan has a plan to stop the Order and destroy the Brink. His ward, Esta, can travel through time, so he sends her back to the early 20th century. There she joins the gang of Mageus who are planning to steal the “Ars Arcana,” a powerful book of magic that contains the key to bringing down the Brink. My take: I loved the premise, and the characters were interesting enough, but the book dragged. It seemed like it wanted to be a heist with a magical twist, but the plot got bogged down in a slow-to-ignite romance. Toward the end, the pacing became erratic, sometimes plodding through dialogue, sometimes rushing confusingly through action scenes. Then, during a dialogue scene heavy with exposition, a character said, “You’re standing here monologuing like some cartoon villain.” Indeed, that’s exactly what was happening. Maybe the author was trying to be funny, but to me, the line implied that she knew there was a problem and decided to hang a lantern on it instead of fixing it. The scope of the novel had suggested that it was a standalone, but I was left with the incomplete and unsatisfying ending of a series starter. Ugh. I gave the novel a B grade for being interesting but not a keeper. I will not seek out the sequel.
2. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. All the characters–Christopher Robin, Pooh, Piglet, Owl, Eeyore, Kanga, and Roo–are simple and silly and totally delightful. I gave the book an A+ for pure charm, and I’ve added the sequel, The House at Pooh Corner, to my mental list of books to read someday.
3. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson. Gilly Hopkins is an unlikable character, mean to everyone who tries to help her, not to mention a racist. She’s in the foster care system, though, and everyone knows that kids act out when they’re in pain. I thought I’d be able to forgive her as long as she grew as a character by the end, which she did. BUT, the ending was a huge downer, so I gave the book only a B grade.
Currently reading: Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander (Book 4 in the Chronicles of Prydain), A Crossword to Die For by Nero Blanc, Aimless Love by Billy Collins, and Le petit fantôme by Emma Tennant (traduit de l’anglais par Lan du Chastel)