June 9, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

In Which Case Becky Tries To Rescue A Wicked Magic, As I Throw It Into The Great Salt Lake- Buddies Divided

In a market currently saturated with witchy themed, and excellent witchy themed books, at that, it takes a lot to stand up to the competition. A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens is failed by a trite, overdone and unoriginal ending. Then there are the characters... Lord. These characters, though.

A Wicked Magic By Sasha Laurens

Becky and I buddy read a lot because we tend to like the same books. Maybe I love a book, and she likes it, or vice-versa. But for the most part, we are at least in the same ballpark. Thankfully, we still have many in the works because A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens, isn’t it. Of course, I respect Becky’s opinion entirely. And please, go fully absorb her review of A Wicked Magic. There were many things that you should hear about through Becky’s lens when it comes to the choices Sasha Laurens made. And you should. Because after the next section? See the salt bitch mermaid below.


Salty Mermaid

Salty Mermaid – See TeeTurtle.Com (Linked)

Part of the issue, to be fair (you know I try), is that this is a year saturated with spectacular, I am a blessed book bitch, reads. To be even more specific? Blessed witchy book bitch reads. So, A Wicked Magic has a hard time stacking up to its predecessors, let alone what I suspect is coming after.

It isn’t even all of them, because it is August. But to give you an idea?

  1. Year of the Witching (Don’t at me. I thought it was Adult too. Apparently, it depends on who you ask)
  2. Burn The Dark, and I Come With Knives (Book #2- review to come)- Yes. That is Adult, but I’m not leaving it off. It is my site.
  3. Witches of Ash and Ruin

It isn’t an easy year to be an author of witches or a witchy character.

American Horror Story Witches Magic

In Which Case I Need An Assistant

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention those things that Becky and I did similarly enjoy. I screencap ALL THE THINGS. The one thing I didn’t screencap was Adam Silvera’s tweet thread about what happens when you read or watch a lot of a genre. Also, how big reveals sometimes being predictable, doesn’t make a book boring. Preach, my love, preach! No, you shouldn’t be able to anticipate all reveals. And the best is when there is a revelation within a reveal. So, you guess the massive reveal, but then, BAM! There is a twist within it that you didn’t see coming (I said that last part, not Silvera).

Also, he pointed out if a twist is so far out there that it shocks you but doesn’t make sense in the plot? That isn’t a reveal. It is just a lazy attempt to go for the shock factor.  He went on to say that his friends often hate watching TV with him because he knows what’s going to happen ten minutes in. It isn’t due to poorly written work, but because he’s read, written, and watched so much that he “gets it.” I think this is important to remember.

A Wicked Magic By Sasha Laurens Review
Thank you to Razorbill for an Arc of A Wicked Magic in exchange for an honest review.

Until I can find those tweets and screencap them, I’m going to start cutting and pasting these paragraphs to other reviews. If I were Jon Oliver, I’d offer money to a food bank, in return for a screencap of those tweets.

The reason why I bring it up is that Becky and I agreed that even though there were parts of the plot that we anticipated. A Wicked Magic wasn’t dull and predictable because of it. In Becky’s case, there was one part that hit on the bullseye. I wrote on the page, “Becky is right about <insert spoiler>” I was going to take a picture of the page and try to blur out just the background, but it isn’t possible.

Also, we both fell in love with Domino, Sasha Laurens’ black cat familiar. Reminiscent of one Mr. Kindly, but never ever able to replace him. It was just enough to make you want to run back and reread all of Mr. Kindly’s greatest hits!

Get Your Salt Shakers Out

When I chose to read Sasha Lauren’s A Wicked Magic, I assumed that there would be many obstacles in any witches’ way. One of them would not be the ability to communicate.

Yet, there they were. And here I am.

What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

Just for funsies. Let’s play a hypothetical game. Imagine the year is 2020, and there is a horrible pandemic going around, plus murder hornets, WWIII trends once a week. The President of the United States was unleashing some unknown military president on his citizens. I know, I know, CRAZY SAUCE. It’ll NEVER HAPPEN. Just go with it.

For funsies. Let’s just say that the first thing we needed to do was knock out this crazy pandemic that had killed, oh, I don’t know, round number, 150,000 people. Yeah, I know just crazy. So, of course, the top scientist doctor guy figures out that the big bad pandemic can be fixed with a mask. Ok,  it won’t fix EVERYTHING, but it’ll help A LOT.

And for funsies, let’s say that because the president is a narcissist psychopath (we know this because, oh let’s say his niece or aunt or whoever, said so) makes everything about him and wants to be the one who solves everything, refuses to listen to the doctor. So, then the doctor can’t do anything. And then, of course, some of the people are looking to the president and doing nothing and assuming it isn’t a big deal.

Then some of the people are listening to the doctor and having a nervous breakdown. Meanwhile, 150,000 people have just dropped off the face of the earth like Thanos snapped his fingers. And now, because no one told each other anything, no one can do anything right to fix it, and more are getting sick, hurt, or frightened.

Not so funny, is it? But that’s just a hypothetical. Isn’t it?

Back To Young Adult Fictional Reality

Fictional reality is not an oxymoron. It is my happy place.

[videopress dnPwp76A]

Unfortunately, due to the hypothetical above, and the four characters in this fictional reality colliding, not so much happiness in happiness land.

No, there aren’t any plagues, governments getting its citizens killed, murder hornets, or a staggering 154 (155 yet? I haven’t checked the news) thousand people dead. However, we do have four girls who are so inept at the ability to communicate that they are going to get themselves killed and possibly unleash something much worst than COVID into the world they inhabit.

Furthermore, they are going to cause me to have a nervous breakdown of epic proportion, lose my voice from screaming at them and possibly, knock some poor, unsuspecting wildlife upside its head from launching the book off Pikes Peak.

First of all, well first of all, if you need a better plot summary, go check out Becky’s review (linked above) because I can’t. Second of all, what we have here are four teenage girls. And let me just stop you right there Deputy of the these are young adult books, and they need to act like teenagers. I am the first one up on that hill, so don’t even. If that is what you read into any part of this review? You are reading wrong.

Sorry. I’m Off Track

Why? Two girls, Dan and Liss, did a stupid thing. They are teenage girls who are prone to do silly things. They found a black book full of spells and started messing around with it. In doing so, Liss’ boyfriend joined one, and when an old-lady spirit showed up to take one of them away, she chose Johnny-boy. I suppose when you are non-witches, playing games with real spells, that’s gonna happen.

Liss leaves town, and Dan tries to get on with her life, meeting Alexandra. Alexandra has a sister Loreli, who actually is a full-blown witch with a familiar Domino. When Liss blows back into town and Alexandra finds out about Johnny, and another girl goes missing. What does Alexandra do? Nothing. Loreli is researching some group and this girl, but that’s it.

Ok fine. I’ll let that go. Here’s the thing, though. Throughout the book, between all four, well, I’ll say three because Lorelei is often doing her own thing, there is plenty of time for Liss and Dan to tell Alexandra that they are messing around with a spellbook. Double whammy! Alexandra has plenty of time to tell them she is an actual full-blown witch.

Their inability to trust and communicate goes long and far beyond teenage girl melodrama.

Exhibit A: Alexandra knows crap. And while, no, she won’t actually help them from actually screwing up worst than they have? She’ll drop them tidbits of history about things that no one would know just off hand. And Dan and Liss are just like how do you know this? And Alexandra is like, oh my aunt was into it, and they just drop it… like WHAT? No.

Let’s say Alexandra said oh yeah, doesn’t Johnny have that poster up in his bedroom? And Liss was like, uh, how do you know that? And Alexandra stumbled and said, um, my aunt cleans his house… Liss and Dan wouldn’t be like, oh ok, cool. YEAH. NO.

This kind of crap goes both ways for way too long. At one point (having nothing to do with any of the above), one of the girls says (I’m just going to paraphrase) something like, “we’re idiots, we’ve been idiots.” And I said, yes. YES, YOU ARE!

And if Alexandra rationalized her selfishness one more time by saying she was protecting them?! NO!  You are making things so much worse.

And here’s the thing. I gave you that whole hypothetical because there is so much more I want to scream about here, but I can’t because of spoilers. So the theoretical gave me the means to say more without giving ANYTHING else away. So, yeah, I apologize. But I don’t because it kept me from spoiling A Wicked Magic, and you know how hard I try not to give anything away.

Liss And Other Droppings

Just a word, if I may. All the other characters have flashbacks, some of which even include Liss. But all the flashbacks and narratives away from the main plot serve to build who they are, what they are about, foundational/core characteristics. As they should. Liss? You don’t get any of it.

In fact, at one point, a character quips at her.

“Has anyone ever told you that you’re very unpleasant?”

Well duh. That’s how Liss has acted and how Sasha Laurens has written the character since her first scene.  You get the horse beaten to death over her looks, her shallowness, her desperation for approval from everyone, and jealousy so green that it makes shamrocks look pale. Then all of a sudden, with not even 100 pages left. Then this chapter gets dropped in out of nowhere, and I asked Becky, but what was that about? And all we could come up with was that it was to give her character depth. And I’m like, NOW?! It is a little late.

That isn’t the only thing, though. There are two or three huge concepts dropped into Sasha Laurens’ A Wicked Magic out of nowhere, with about 150 pages left to go. I had to reread because I thought I’d missed a lot.

A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens: Summary and Ending Without Spoilers

Golden Girls Blanche Stick the Dismount

No. No, Blanche. A Wicked Magic did not land on its feet during the dismount.

That ending. THAT ENDING. On a very general level, let me just put it this way. I know everything can’t be original. I get it. If you are going to utilize a plot sequence already well-known, then make sure you at least put your footprint on it.

There was no footprint.

The ending has been overdone, overused, and rehashed. That horse has been beaten to death, resuscitated, and sent right back to the glue factory. Not to mention that the crux of what started this whole disaster hangs on something so foolish, I was left completely baffled. There are clues dropped throughout the book. I thought it might have a part to play, but for it to be the whole shebang?


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