As someone who is fairly new to the blog community and book reviewing, I was quite excited when an author, Sevan Paris, contacted me about reviewing his upcoming book, Magick in Prose. He sent me a link to the book’s amazon page and after a very brief scan I quickly replied that I would be happy to read and review it. However, in my eagerness to respond to and accept the request, I neglected to ask any questions about the details of the book or why he had contacted me in particular. I only had to read a few chapters before I realised that agreeing to the request so quickly was perhaps unwise.
Why is this anecdote of any relevance to my review? Target audience.
While the premise of Magick in Prose, following a young woman in a world where dangerous magic hides just below the surface of the everyday world, seemed to fit the model of YA novels that favour female audiences, I found that the style of writing would perhaps have been better suited in stories aimed at teenage boys. Indeed, it was a bizarre contrast that I felt was detrimental to the story; having descriptions of a strong, independent female lead being interspersed with multiple references to ‘boobs’, ‘effing’, and ‘eraser tips’ was a juxtaposition that just didn’t sit well with me. Furthermore, outside of our protagonist, I had trouble really engaging with any of the other characters and felt that they would have benefitted from being introduced and covered in greater depth. Too often, in particular with our first antagonist, Jason Priest, they were gone what felt like moments before they had really been introduced.
This is not to say that the book was without merit. Paris was able to inject a darkness to the world that was very effective. Descriptions of dive-bars and the protagonists abode were well-realised and gave the novel a sense of grit that I enjoyed. The underground part of the city known as Old Prose was also intriguing and deserved more attention.
There are elements of Magick in Prose that could make the foundations for an enjoyable series. However, I found the writing style to be too much of a turn-off for me to enjoy the book at all. I’ve not read any of Paris’ other works, and his writing style in previous efforts may have helped him to establish a solid reader base, but I imagine that it may also have turned a number of other potential readers off his work. Unfortunately, as I don’t think I fit the target audience, I have to count myself as one of the latter.