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The Siren and the Sword
Cecilia Tan
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The Siren and the Sword (Magic University #1)

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  192 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Kyle Wadsworth arrives at Harvard eager to start his new life as a college student away from the cold and distant great-aunt who has raised him. But he walks into a building that only magical people can see, confusing both himself and the administrators of Veritas, the secret magical university hidden inside Harvard. There he first sees a beautiful girl who seems magical t ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 2009)
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The Siren and the Sword is an erotic urban fantasy that both succeeds and misses the mark as a successful story. The plot is fun and easy to follow. But the writing is substandard and characters paper thin - so much so that is was hard to care about any of them. The author clearly had fun with the erotic scenes, which aren't lurid or over the top. It's a simplistic piece of eye candy that could count as a guilty pleasure
Jules Jones
(Disclosure: I don't know the author particularly well, but I've long admired her work as an editor, and have submitted material to her publishing house in the past. This hasn't had any impact on my reaction to the book, other than I wouldn't have known about a promo deal on the new edition and run off to buy it if I didn't have her blog on my LiveJournal feed.)

Erotic fantasy novel which is quite openly inspired by Harry Potter. "Inspired by" means "loving homage", not "rip-off"; this is a worth
Shehreyar Khan
I got 3/4 through it and just stopped reading altogether. I don't know what it was, but something about this books seriously annoyed me. It could have been the attempt to float the entire story on a foundation of erotica. Forgive me if I'm skeptical toward a book because it's premise is sex. I would read fifty shades of grey if I wanted that, and I have read it, and it sucked, so there.
Andy Capricorn
I got a Galley of this book from Riverdale Avenue Books for review.

I was drawn to this title because it was recommended for people who where looking for a more adult version of Harry Potter. This was nothing like an adult Harry Potter. This book was listed as New Adult and Sci Fi & Fantasy, but that is missing one very important marker, Erotica.

I was so excited to start reading what they hailed the 'American Harry Potter' and on the second page I wanted to gouge my eyes out, and it just got
I met Cecelia Tan at GKE while browsing the author's room. We chatted a bit about Harry Potter, and she recommended a series she had written that was similar to those books, but at the university level, with a different view on magic, and with sex. Normally that sort of introduction would raise an eyebrow for me, but it was obvious both that Tan was a Harry Potter fan, not just someone riding Rowling's coat tails, and that she honestly meant it as a rethinking/different approach to Harry Potter ...more
Sara Winters
I was dreadfully late in reviewing this story (several months after I read it) for two reasons. The first, I bought it and the sequel together and I rushed to read both of them in about 31ish hours. The second, I wasn't sure I could put what I thought about it into words. I'm going to try now.

I think it has to be said, there are characters in this book that remind me of specific Harry Potter characters. As the story (and series) progresses, that similarity lessens as I get to know these characte
Ellen told me to read it, and I love Ellen.

It's Harry Potter at college turned into an erotica meander. The writing fails to create memorable locations, characters, and only a few memorable actions.

I found all the characters so nondescript that I had trouble remembering who anyone was, even just a page or two after their introduction.

If the sexual content had been really well done, that would be something... I mean, maybe fun grown-up reading? But it didn't really grab me as the character mot
Blooded Bay
In the Afterword, Cecilia Tan explains her own Magic University series as a love letter to not only J.K. Rowling, but many other fantasy authors. A few of which I’ve even heard of, though not read. Honestly, I think she’s leaving something out.

This is just as much an homage to Hogwarts (and other established magic educational facilities) as it is to the city of Boston. Page 66 begins a day trip to The Garment District and a Puerto Rican eatery. As a resident of the next big city south on I-95, I
Ian Wood
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's reviews on the blog typically feature two or three images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a book is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate it three-
I am so incredibly glad that my friend Sydney tagged me in a Facebook post on Cecilia's page. This book was fanfreakingtastic and I'm definitely looking forward to Book 2.

Here's the shameful part where I admit that I'm probably one of the few on the planet that have not read the Harry Potter books. I have seen the films and loved them.

The cover art is a bit misleading on this one as I was going in to this thinking it would be more of a YA fantasy. Wow. Yeah, the first chapter threw that out the
As a Harry Potter fan, this book is a little like coming home again- except, you know, not really. Fans of the previous will clearly be able to see Magic University's roots in J.K. Rowling's world. The characters Kyle, Frost, and Alex, for example, obviously take inspiration from Harry, Draco, and Ron. There is obviously the magical school element, along with four distinct "houses" that people get placed into upon arrival and prejudice against people who don't come from magical families. However ...more
Nathan Day
First New Adult novel (think Young Adult with sex) I've tried. Promising if concise. Could have used a little more "show" than "tell". I'll keep reading because I want to know if Kyle goes gay all of a sudden.

Surprise twist at the climax.
Sexy without getting angsty.
'shipping Kyle/Alex (ohpleaseohpleaseohplease)

* Unable to empathize with Kyle and Jen's relationship: Did he imprint on the first girl he saw and pursue her blindly?
* Kyle kind of a cipher: an orphan who got into H
Probably I'm not the audience for this book. I think it was described as Harry Potter but hotter. Never read the Harry Potter books and I'm not a prude, but reading about this much teenaged sex skeeved me a little. It had an interesting plot but wasn't my cup of tea.
Flat characters, a lackluster plot that primarily consists of college students eating together and having boring conversations, a "twist" that relies upon a huge plot hole, and sketchy worldbuilding. I could've partially forgiven the book if it were sexy enough, but 1) there was a lot less sex than I'd expected, and 2) most of the sex scenes were just as flat and uninspired as everything else about the book.

I did enjoy Tan's The Prince's Boy, which I read serially on her website, so I know she c
Rachelle (Rachelle's Reading)
This book was hit and miss with me, there were some parts I really enjoyed and others made me cringe at little. I found for the most part that the romance side to the story was heavy handed and unnecessary as I didn't feel it contributed to the story in a meaningful way.

The similarities to Harry Potter were also heavy handed, appearing only in the first quarter of the book and in quick succession and often they weren't mentioned again or relevant to the story.

I'd say the first quarter or so of t
Enjoyable, fun, and a little bit smart. And a little sexy, too, in a wonderfully nerdy fashion. If you are looking for straight up smut, this isn't for you, but if you want fantasy with some clear erotic elements please read. My only sense of weakness is that I had a struggle getting a handle on our protagonist until near the end... But then it seems the protagonist was having a hard time really grasping who he really was too, as a part of the plot, so that could be intentional. I look forward t ...more
Objectively speaking, The Siren and the Sword is not a great book. I felt it was rather poorly written, with meandering, holey plot, interchangeable shallow characters and a general lack of depth. But it does make you crave more stories about magical universities with some erotic context. Alas, there can't be another The Wise Man's Fear, so I'm off to read the sequels to this one.
M.A. Ray
I enjoyed this quite a bit. There were some problems -- Kyle is super-sweet, but kind of dopey, and the writing isn't of incredibly high quality -- but it swept me away quite nicely, and I would like to see more of the worldbuilding next time around. It's not quite "Harry Potter with sex," since the author isn't quite Rowling in terms of prose, but the themes are there and I can easily see the influence. I appreciated it for what it was, and anyone looking for a nice, good-hearted, fluffy read m ...more
I've wanted to read this book for years, but because I've been such a poor reader for so long, it took me a while to finally buy it and read it. In fact, it was only when the new edition went on sale that I got myself a copy. I wish I'd read it much sooner, and I'm very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series. And I can promise that now that I'm reading regularly again, I won't wait another five years or so before I buy it.

I'm a big fan of fantasy in general, and Tan definite
Nobilis Reed
Short version: Good enough for me to want the next book in the series.

The good:
I found the characters engaging. Kyle seemed to me like a lot of college students did, thrown into the deep end, and gaining confidence as he learns to swim in a very unexpected pool.

The setting is vibrant. I could sense that the author had drawn heavily on her familiarity with the Boston area, and the setting came alive for me. Veritas fits into it very nicely.

The bad:
The derivative nature of this book can't be denie
Michelle (In Libris Veritas)
So what do you get when you make Harry Potter more 'adult'? You get this book. It's perfect for those in Potter withdrawals but desire a little more...passion... from the characters. It has all the elements you need from the boarding school, to the teenage angst, to the oh-so-sensual art of magic. All packed into 200 pages.

The world that Tan creates has very obvious parallels to Potter, and she even openly admits to finding her inspiration in Rowling's world. Though the characters are certainly
Shannon Wissel
Fans of Jacqueline Carey will find this book positively tame and boring, despite folks often saying they are compatible. That said, i liked the story and that it took place at Harvard. Folks looking for a "grown Up harry potter" will probably be disappointed also.
This is the second or third time I've read this book, and every time I see new and clever details. The only downside being that I already know the outcome!

The world created here is a beautiful blend of the normal and the fantastical, and lots of confusion about the two on the part of the main character! When Kyle was suddenly thrust into the magical world of Veritas, the hidden magic university at Harvard a lot of learning has to be done very fast. Particularly when he has to find his place with
I thought I would like this more. I wanted to like this more, but I just didn't. I don't know if it's the writing or the characters... I don't know. I liked 2 characters only - than goodness they were too main characters - but that was it. All the others felt flat.

I know it's a series, and this is to be expected, but this also left a lot of unanswered questions about this story line in particular, not the series as a whole. I don't know if those answers are to be revealed in the next book (whic
Sara Q
I expected this book to be awful - it was on sale as a Kindle book - but to my surprise, I actually enjoyed it. The author clearly admits to using the Harry Potter world as an inspiration but she allows her characters to be far more grown up and, well, a bit smutty. But even the smut isn't bad smut, which is saying something! She also somehow manages to bring in poetry by Longfellow and Eliot as pieces of the backdrop to her magical version of Harvard. I appreciate that she includes gay characte ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alysa H.
A magical school novel that proudly wears its influences on its sleeve, but is quite decidedly not for children. While the writing itself is not particularly sophisticated, I definitely got a lot of enjoyment out of this book. I appreciated how the magical system, the university environment, the coming-of-age story, the literary influences, and the x-rated erotic and sex-magic elements all combined into a quite vivid world with endearing characters. I'm looking forward to Book 2.

** I received a
Going through Harry Potter withdrawal, I set out to find similar books for an older audience. This does the trick, but it was a little, er, more adult than I was expecting. As in erotica instead of just a romance. Guess I should have looked closer. It's not over bearing however, though rather up front as the first sex scene is on the second page. It was the plot that kept me interested. This book is exceedingly fast paced, and sadly exceedingly short at just over 200 pages. I breezed through it ...more
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Susie Bright says, "Cecilia Tan is simply one of the most important writers, editors, and innovators in contemporary American erotic literature." Since the publication of Telepaths Don't Need Safewords in 1992, she has been on the cutting edge of the erotic form, often combining elements of fantasy and science fiction in her work. She is also founder and editor of Circlet Press.

She is the author
More about Cecilia Tan...

Other Books in the Series

Magic University (4 books)
  • The Tower and the Tears (Magic University, #2)
  • The Incubus and the Angel (Magic University, #3)
  • The Poet and the Prophecy (Magic University, #4)
Slow Surrender (Struck by Lightning, #1) Slow Seduction (Struck by Lightning, #2) Slow Satisfaction (Struck by Lightning, #3) Daron's Guitar Chronicles: Volume One (Daron's Guitar Chronicles, #1) The Prince's Boy: Volume One (The Prince's Boy, #1)

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