Julia's Reviews > Black Magic

Black Magic by Cherry Adair
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's review
Sep 05, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: fantasy, fiction, urban, arcs
Read in September, 2010

Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy

BLACK MAGIC takes a little bit of “Romancing the Stone”, adds some grown up Harry Potter, and finishes off with a whole lot of “The Temple of Doom.” Despite the flavors of adventure, magic, and romance, I never felt particularly engaged by either the plot or the characters. Unfortunately, the bulk of my thoughts after finishing BLACK MAGIC revolved around trying to create some order out of this welter of mythology and sex.

Admittedly, my failure to connect with this book could be just that, my failure. The opening leaps straight into a contrived exposition about the magic and mythology surrounding the Aequitas race. This explanation came before I was invested in the characters, or the book, and put me off from the start. Furthermore, despite the exhaustive detail provided about the Aequitas and their enemies, I was frustrated to find no detail about the parts of magic I did find interesting. Prophetic, floating book? Cool! Tell me more! ... Um... hello? Anyone out there? The mystical book was so under-explained I stopped reading to make sure I was starting at the beginning of the series (According to Wikipedia, BLACK MAGIC is first in this particular series, but it’s set in the established world of a prior series). Given how much I like to piece together magical “physics” in a book, I think I would have been better off starting with one of Adair’s earlier T-FLAC psi unit books.

Given my frustration with the magical portions of the book, I have difficulty objectively deciding if I had valid issues with the romance. I felt like too much of the book revolved around one of my least favorite romance tropes, with a break up based on lack of communication (made famous in Rebecca, and a thousand romances that followed). Despite later revelations to explain Sara and Jack’s behavior, it couldn’t make me go back and enjoy the beginning of the book. Outside what is fundamentally my own negative reaction to a common romance plot line, I enjoyed Sara and Jack. They had their moments, and I enjoyed the scent details and staging Adair includes. She made me want to hunt down ginger body soaps and an ice hotel in Greenland.

As for the villains of the book, the dastardly, snake-people, they were as obvious and unbelievable as the magic. I found several attack and attempted rape scenes both confusing and egregious. The best thing to come out of reading BLACK MAGIC was, when I solicited my husband’s help in figuring out the mythology of the book, he was derailed into a 30 minute hunt to find out if “snakes get erections” (Google yielded some obscene results, but his college herpetology text book says “Yes.”).

When it comes down to it, my dislike of BLACK MAGIC could be the result of several of my own pet peeves combining to create a gestalt dislike. In a better mood, these shortcomings might have struck me as an enjoyable comedy of romance and fantasy themes, but as circumstances had it, I could barely make myself finish it.

Sexual Content: Several explicit sex scenes, explicit attempted rape, descriptions of rape.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Erinaceina (last edited May 02, 2011 12:59PM) (new) - added it

Erinaceina I'm glad to find that someone else had problems getting engaged with this (although I do usually like The Big Misunderstanding plots).

Julia When handled correctly, I can enjoy TBM (i.e. - The resolution has more to do with character growth than people *finally* talking to each other). This book was definitely not an example of doing this right. Then again, the heroine lived in a house with the racial enemy of her wizard species (accompanied by numerous snake references and, oh yeah, a huge freaking snake), and never questioned it.

message 3: by Erinaceina (new) - added it

Erinaceina She does seem to be the queen of denial - 'la la la, he's really just a nice guy, despite his creepy sexual preferences (and his creepy pretty much everything), etc, etc'.

As for the mythology - near the beginning of the book, there's something about the Omnivatics and Ophidian's Comet speeding up the rotation of the Earth. That was the point that I decided that there was no way I could take the mythos seriously. Of all the far-fetched plans to take over the world I've read about in PNR, that has to be the daftest.

Julia For all the work Adair put into the mythology (hey, the creepy, rapey snake guy even had hemipenes), it was totally over the top. I had to talk myself down before writing my review, as there were redeeming features, but I could have filled a book with stuff that drove me up a wall.

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