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American Magic: A Thriller
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American Magic: A Thriller

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  210 ratings  ·  56 reviews
In this fast-paced, international thriller, chaos erupts after a shadowy figure with ties to an elite and ancient society posts incantations on the dark web that allow people to perform real magic.

When an enigmatic message uploaded to the dark web turns out to contain an ancient secret giving regular people the power to do impossible things, like levitate cars or make them
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 20th 2019 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books/Alloy Entertainment (first published August 2019)
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Average rating 3.53  · 
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Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
American Magic is an unusual mix of international thriller and fantasy with magic being at the very epicentre of the story, and for a debut, it's a solid read. Despite the somewhat stereotypical characters we meet there is a great plot and plenty of excitement to keep readers engaged throughout. Fehst has the potential to become one of the most interesting contemporary fantasy writers as he pens a story with perfect pacing, non-stop action and lots of unexpected surprises along the way. It pulls ...more
Matthew Galloway
Jun 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, thriller
Eh, this is an excellent example of why I shouldn't read thrillers. To me, it seems like they are so focused on action that they don't flesh out the random cool ideas that ought to be the backbone of the plot. So, we have things like researchers who come up with some pretty wild conclusions but never explain how they got there since it would be IMPOSSIBLE. Why yes, somehow I deduced all this stuff about prehistory with no artifacts or anything... Or later on when our hero uses the knowledge of T ...more
Aug 22, 2019 rated it liked it
If magic were possible, would you use it? American Magic is a story of magic gone wrong. A viral video shows some black magic and problems ensue. An ex-CIA agent is tasked with containing this new threat. It's a good action story with drama and secrets around every corner. The premise is unique and interesting. Although not my favorite, I did like the story. Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Ryan M.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m at a loss for labels. “Spy thriller”? “Fantasy”? “Sci-Fi”? Perhaps it’s best to just stick with labels like “page turner” and “a hell of a lot of fun.”

American Magic starts with a novel and interesting premise: what would happen if magic were real and someone hopped online to share the secret with the whole word? It’s a fascinating thought experiment that new author Zach Fehst has translated into an incredibly interesting enjoyable and thrilling story.

Ex-CIA agent Ben Zolstra is a pitch-per
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, grownup, fantasy
omg my coworker just read the summary of this out loud and was like "lol this sounds dumb" and I was like "oh I read that and it was dumb!" and then I went to check my GoodReads review of it but apparently I didn't leave one, perhaps because it was so forgettable?

but I WANT to count it toward my GoodReads challenge dang it!!! I did NOT DNF it despite thinking about it several times. I kept hoping for some kind of redemptive twist that never came. like I'm such a sucker for this variety of urban
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
This light, almost shallow novel is nevertheless full of high energy. It lacks depth in its characterizations and while the plot premise is intriguing, the way it plays out is just not believable.

Everything is a stretch. One second our duo is in Baltimore, the next in Scotland, and the next in Thailand. And it keeps going that way. Virtually no time for rest and sustenance much less forming relationships. The CIA is inept. The politicians are useless. Cops are clueless. The main protagonist is a
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am very grateful to this talented author, the publisher, and Netgalley for the opportunity to download and read an ARC of this amazing book. I was drawn in from the first page. The idea seems simple: what if magic - real magic - really existed? In this story, some people, if they have the correct ancient words and are talented or gifted the same way some extraordinary basketball players are gifted, can perform outrageous feats of actual magic: telekinesis, the ability to make themselves or oth ...more
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars.

A traditional government/agent thriller with a plot surrounding ancient magic spells being released on the dark web. It may sound like it wouldn't mesh well, but Fehst manages to sort of make it work. It does have some basic stereotypes and tropes. It also felt a little predictable and contained numerous improbable coincidences. The one guess the characters make and take a huge risk on works. And so does the next one. And the next one. And the next one. And it chains along until you ar
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Originally published at Reading Reality

American Magic is a spy-thriller for everyone who ever wondered what would happen if someone deliberately broke the Statute of Secrecy in Harry Potter – in other words, how would the world react if magic suddenly turned out to be real – and the entire world wanted to weaponize it.

Of course they would.

It’s like a crossover story where Jack Reacher or Jack Ryan don’t so much meet Harry himself as run into some disaffected muggleborn who ran away from magic wi
Oct 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2019
This is like a cross between a Dan Brown book and a Jack Reacher book but is utterly disappointing. The topic has so much promise but it only really seems to show that promise the epilogue. Neat ideas about secret magic poor execution.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it liked it
This was OK. The author shows promise. It has good pacing and an interesing plot, but just didn't have that "it" factor that made it great. If you're seeking a thriller with a little magic mixed in, you'll probably like this.

I really appreciate the complimentary copy for review!!
John Purvis
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
(See all of my Book Reviews) - Author Zach Fehst ( published the novel “American Magic” in 2019. He has published two novels.

I received an ARC of this novel through in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as "R" because it contains scenes of Violence and Mature Language. The story is set in the contemporary world.

One day magic begins to happen. Not everyone has the ability and strength varies, but there is suddenly magi
Cat Jenkins
Nov 23, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm laughing. But it's not mean laughter. Not laughter at Mr. Fehst's expense. Rather, it's the merriment you feel when you see someone so very, very earnest engaged in a task with all the urgency and excitement that they can muster in the belief that they're doing something amazingly grand and exceptional...and you know it's not. But the other thing you know is that the completion of the task is a necessary step in an earnest, new writer's evolution.
The initial premise is intriguing, but the bo
Donna Straup
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was married for 7 years. My marriage has been deteriorating for some time so it was bound to unravel. I was his loyal, faithful supportive and trusting Wife. He had an additional wild side that went out of control. The last incident is when I found out that he was having an affair 2 weeks before our 14th wedding anniversary. Out of the blue my husband just sprung the divorce talk on me. I was so hurt and being an independent woman, I thought I could cope with being single. It was so hard to mo ...more
Oct 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
An interesting premise from the book jacket prompted me to bring the book home from the library, but the first few pages made me question the decision. A very generic, tired intro of a retired CIA agent whisked back into the government fold to address an urgent threat. Ben Zolstra doesn't play well with others and is of course disliked as a maverick by the higher ups, but for untold reasons, is apparently the only one capable of finding whoever is responsible for releasing magic into the world. ...more
Nichole Elizabeth
This book starts off with a bang and from there leaves you with so many questions. You are taken on this fantastic journey throughout the book where you meet all these different characters who all connect to the story. I really enjoyed how fast-paced and action-packed this book was. I personally do not read a lot of thriller books, but I definitely enjoyed this one.

Magic is definitely a part of this book, however, it is inserted in a unique way where it is contemporary America where magic is be
Paul Pessolano
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
“American Magic” by Zach Fehst, published by Emily Bester Books.

Category – Mystery/Thriller Publication Date – August 20, 2019.

“What if magic real?” This is the burning question behind “American Magic”. There are a lot of “what ifs” but What If. A woman finds an ancient incantation on the web and finds that she is able to levitate a car. Then there is the incantation to make a person invisible. Just think of the consequences if one could do these things.

The person behind this claims he will put
Lanya Earthshine
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
This story is of the typical ‘action movie’ type which, in itself, would have been just fine. A third of the way through the book, I got tired of the constant hints in the text about the superiority of a white, male in the prime of life. The taught-at-oxford professor is ‘the Heaton woman”. A retired expert is ‘the old professor’. The woman who leaves her abusive partner is all too soon romantically interest in the swashbuckling hero. The head of the powerful secret society is a European white m ...more
Aug 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
American Magic is a fascinating read. Zach Fehst writes a convincing story combining two genres – thriller and science fiction.

Former CIA Agent Ben Zolstra needs to find Merlin, an individual who posted incantations on the dark web that some people have successfully used to perform real magic. Ben teams up with Elia Mack, one of the few who effectively uses the spells to levitate objects or become invisible. Their search for a way to stop the release of magic worldwide leads them to an Oxford sc
Bejaka Phoenix
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it
*I received this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
As a few other reviewers have pointed out this novel, a sci-fi thriller, has SO much potential to be a fantastic novel, however, I do not believe the author, Zach Fehst has managed to capture that. He does give a good thriller in this novel, as we watch our protagonists time and time again narrowly escape the villains. However, for the sci-fi aspect, I feel like more could have been done or explained better. Also, there were so
Jun 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy
I got an arc of this from the publisher, so I feel terrible that I can't give it a better rating. In all honesty, I probably would've DNF'ed it if it had been a run of the mill library book.

The plot was fast paced, and I really liked the magic system which is probably the only reason I didn't check it across the room in defeat.

That update about the sexy lamp test? Yeah, that wasn't the problem. The problem was all of the characters were pretty flat, and at times relied too heavily on stereotypes
Diane Hernandez
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
What if magic is real? But kept hidden by a group as mysterious, and rich, as the Illuminati? When one member turns rogue, the lid is off American Magic.

Okay, I admit it, the plot sounds lame—except when you are actually reading it. The author manages to do a Dan Brown on a seemingly absurd plot like The DaVinci Code and makes it believable. Once you are over that hurdle, the same one the main character surmounts, American Magic is an exhilarating thriller. If you don’t mind some magic, I highly
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really more of a 3.5. The action and adventure induced a thrill and intrigue that made me want to know what was coming next.
The "American" part was really my least favorite bit, but it's in the title so I can't really hold that against the story.

I do wish we'd had more information on the families and their various powers, but again that would've been a different novel.

If I do leave with one criticism, it's that the conflicts ok the world were almost paraphrased rather than fleshed out. A relig
Jennifer Gottschalk
Dec 17, 2019 rated it liked it
The best way to describe 'American Magic' is a book with a great premise that could have been so much better than it was. The original idea, of releasing magic into the world and the consequences of doing so had loads of potential. It is a great pity that most of this potential was not realised.

Fehst's decision to create a thriller where a small team saves the world was disappointing - the results is a story that lacks both depth and credibility.

Trying to mix action and fantasy is a big ask and
Jan 14, 2020 rated it liked it
What if magic was real? How would society be altered if the ability to levitate objects or become invisible was widely available? Great premise, especially if the power was variable ranging from popgun strength to tank. The book looks at some of the potential issues, but focuses mainly on the CIA’s efforts to control and/or stop this from spreading. There are some great, if not fully developed, characters including a rogue CIA agent with significant anger about his coerced role in previous enhan ...more
Steven W.
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An intense look at what would happen if magic, yes, magic, were to be re-introduced into the world slowly with the intent to destroy all that we know in our systems of government. How would governments react? Would it be considered a gift? A threat? A curse? Join the hunt for the origins of magic being released by a renegade CIA agent going against the agency in his own search to stop the release of magic into society. Murders, Magic, Mayhem, and Mysterious twists abound on a global scale in thi ...more
May 11, 2019 rated it liked it
This one was really hard for me to rate. I read fantasy, and this is out of my wheel house. Just because it has magic in the name, and some spells are used, I still would not classify this as fantasy. In my opinion, it is more of a thriller. That being said, this book was not for me. I am rating it 3 stars because I don't think the writing is bad, it just isn't my cup of tea.

I would recommend it to people that read thrillers.

I received an ARC from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my
Tonya S.
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Review copy provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest opinion.

Ben Zolstra is just living his life post CIA when his old boss shows up and tells him they need him to help contain the biggest threat the world has ever known, magic. Ben is extremely skeptical until he sees a video featuring Eila Mack performing a spell. Ben and Eila, along with a disgraced professor, must race around the globe to try and contain the threat. I enjoyed this book. I wasn't totally invested in
Maurynne  Maxwell
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I regret using one of my credits from the science fiction book club to get this book, but glad I didn't pay full price. This book is really a movie treatment, not a novel, and it works as a movie, especially if you don't need to care about any of the characters. The world building isn't good enough for this to have been published in the science fiction genre; standards there are pretty high. Tons of urban fantasy out there does it better.
I did finish it, but I really can't think of a reason to
Natalia Iwanyckyj
Jul 10, 2019 rated it liked it
“...there was a time when what we call magic was simply a natural part of life. Something that humans could control as effortlessly as we now move our own limbs—and probably just as thoughtlessly. And that time has been collectively remembered as myth.””

I love reading all things magic, so American Magic grabbed me from the title. Light thriller elements, simple magic, and some globe-trotting adventures keep the story moving. An easy and pleasant read.
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