When absent-minded Professor Random misplaces the main character from Alice in Wonderland, young Henry Witherspoon must book-jump to fetch Alice before chaos theory kicks in and the world vanishes. Along the way he meets Winnie Flapjack, a wit-cracking doodle witch with nothing to her name but a magic feather and a plan. Such as it is. Henry and Winnie brave the Dark Queen, whatwolves, pirates, Struths, and fluttersmoths, Priscilla and Charybdis, obnoxiously cheerful vampires, Baron Samedi, a nine-dimensional cat, and one perpetually inebriated Muse to rescue Alice and save the world by tea time.
Down the Rabbit Hole we go!! And Sasha Soren's "Random Magic" is just that. A journey through the unknown where no author has dared to go. Her descriptive tale about a young boy named Henry looking for the infamous Alice from Wonderland is sure to intrigue the most curious of readers. Along the way, he runs into the bold, sassy, not afraid to take charge and get her hands dirty - doodle witch named Winnie Flapjack. A rather spunky Pippy Longstockings of sort.
Immersed in the magical world of Edgeland - Somewhere between the turn of one page and the start of the next - our duo braves the wild beasties, answers the impossible riddle, and attempts to beat all odds in order to find what Henry has been searching for. But do they find the girl in the blue dress with the white apron?
Now, it wouldn't be very sporting of me to tell would it?
The chapters are titled like an episode from the popular television show "Friends". Describing what will happen to our heroes. Beneath each title is a quote from said chapter. More of a promise of what's to come. A tiny adventure waiting to be discovered.
Throughout this page turner we run into a diverse cast of characters that fill each chapter with their whimsical presence. Soren has found a way to mix our favorite bedtime tales with the legends of lore in the most delicious of ways that will leave you begging for seconds, thirds, even fourths!
Please sir... may I have some more?
So, pack a bit of chocolate and put the kettle on. Don't forget to read your horoscope and glimpse into your grandmother's crystal ball. And by all means peak out the window to see if you can catch a grey wolf's tail slithering into the bushes. It might just help.
There's no turning back :)
Winnie is waiting. It's time to get lost in a world of make believe, magic, and childhood dreams
*** This is what I would have written if I had LIKED this dreadful book. GAHS!! Let me tell you something kiddies… it was NOT Cool!! This book is about as entertaining as Ethan Frome. About a page turner as Wuthering Heights. About as cool as Paris Hilton's mothballs stuffed in her underwear drawer.
(note: Greta does not dig Ethan Frome or Wuthering Heights lolz)
So, my bud, uhyesplease, got contacted by the author to review this booky wook on the Bewitched Bookwormy site and by reading the description and watching this youtube video on it –it actually looked pretty cool. Then she asked me if I wanted in and I was like “Hell to the yeah!”
The only problem is… we have to read and review the book in like a week… and we don’t even have the book!!
Arrangements are made and books and pressies from the author are sent out (included: book, rubber ducky, peppermint tea, raspberry chocolate square, patchouli scented –GROSS!!- leaves, and this printout saying how she has all these clever anagrams and junk). Seriously, it was just overwhelming enough to open the box… and I didn’t even know the duck was in there until uhyesplease emailed me. She thought it was POOP hahahs!! I don’t know why but that is most awesome that she thought the author pooped in her box hahahs!! Maybe she thought it was an artistic statement ;P
(note: I seriously thought I had a gas leak after my pressy box was open. I had no idea that those leaves smelled like patchouli. I guess I do not dig that scent. Oh yeah, and the book still smells like that)
Speaking of Artists…. This author is one of THEM!! U know… the kind of people who self-proclaim themselves as artists. This drove me nuts. You can see it all throughout her writing. For one thing there are WITCHES and ARTISTS in the book and rather than explaining WHY something happened the excuse would be “Artists are like witches – they are hard to understand” is used. WHY? And then stuff about how BRILLIANT artists are is yapped about and I seriously wanted to scream!! I can’t stand it when people think like that. Like they are soo cool cuz they listen to unsigned bands and wear berets are so awesome. Yeah… no!!
The prologue to this book was 20 some odd pages. It was horrible. I couldn’t make sense of it. It seemed just slapped together and (in my opinion) as if the reader should KNOW what’s going on. I can’t tell you how many COUNTLESS characters you were introduced to in these 20 pages. It was nerve-racking.
After reading like 100 pages, I seriously wanted to stop. I read this book out of order. After 100 pages I read the last 100 pages. Then I read the middle out of order. It actually read a bit better that way. But throughout I kept wanting to throw it into the wall. I would have given up on this book if I had not signed on to help review it.
Finally the dang thing was done and we had to come up with CONVERSATION starters (cuz we wanted the review to look like we were talking lolz). Uhyesplease asked me for 10 questions or statements about the book. The ones below are the ones I wrote that were NOT used lolz… cuz they’re kinda mean but made me laugh…
So, here ya go --- The missing questions and or starters from our review :)
1. I'd like to think of myself as majorly cool. I know that is being full of myself but hey... you can't deny my awesomeness. But I hate to say it that I just did NOT get this book. I don't know if maybe my glasses weren't thick enough or maybe I wasn't wearing the right pair of Chinos.... but this book was a bit over my head.
2. I found the cover to quite literally freak me out. I mean OMG! who hired Nichole Kidman to pose for this thing? Does she know that some artist dude captured her from her SNL performance with helmet boy? Someone probably owes her some money.... well, that is if this book ever made any money. I mean, it doesn't even have a barcode. How do you sell this thing? Do we have to hop into our Dolarians and go back in time to the days of price guns?
3. I found Henry what's his face to be a whiney little tool. Where was his backbone? Why did he let Winnie just boss him around? I seriously wanted to tell him to grow a pair.
4. I actually found myself rooting for Winnie Flapjack's death. That was super sweet when I thought she died. I mean, I actually cried tears of joy.... but then decided I needed to go on suicide watch when she came back to life. It's pretty bad when you call your husband at Nine in the morning telling him to come home and hide all the lose cord in the house.
5. There were a bunch of clever hipster anagrams in this book that I truly did not care for. And who the hell is Salvador Dali? He's that dude that hunka hunka Rob portrayed in that naked porn movie right? Well, anyways... books that require thinking are tiring and I seriously don't like them. The only anagram the human population needs to know is the one that spells out GREAT.
6. The main character in this book was Winnie Flapjack. I'm going to assume that her hair is red because Nichole Kidman's is but seriously I saw no mention of her hair color. The author just described it as dark. But she sure was a spitfire of a girl (and bossy). To me she was basically a Pippi Longstockings crossed with that bad influence dude from Oliver. The cool thing was she really did have loads of self-esteem, wasn't afraid to try, and I guess you could even compare her to Fiona off Shrek. I'm sure the Girl Scouts of America would love to make her the poster child for a "Be yourself campaign".
7. How old did you think the kids in this book were? I'm going to take a stab in the dark that they were like 12 but every freaking character wanted to know why Winnie wasn't dead so maybe they just had maturity issues and were really in their 30s. It really bugged me that we never found out.
8. I seriously did NOT understand the whole ending. I mean was there a hidden meaning to it? Were we suppose to learn that Henry's Mom and her hidden love affair dude besty guy were really Winnie and Henry in the past? Was there a moral to this story? Again!! Quit trying to teach us stuff!!
9. The prologue was 20 some odd pages. DUDES!! That's like 2 normal chapters in a Greta-speed book. It was too freaking long and it made absolutely no freaking sense. I was told in reviews that I read while reading this book that all would be explained at the end. No, they lied. It made about as much sense as the ending to the last Lord of the Rings movie. And just like the ending to that long ass movie I seriously found myself wanting to cap my ass.
10. All in all... I really wish I could have those 4 days of my life back that I wasted on this book. And I seriously want that stank of patchouli out of my house. Why the hell do you mail a book reeking like my grandfather's ass? Was it not torture enough to attempt to read this rubbish? I guess that was like a scented offering of the slow horrific death of my life that was about to come.
So, kids… this was NOT my kind of book, not my brand of cigarette, and not my flavor of beer. I did NOT dig it!! And now I never ever want to go into a coffee shop again!!
What I don't understand is why other people have given this book 4 or 5 stars. It baffles me... but maybe when someone gives you a gift you have to try to be nice ;) I on the other hand would want to hear the truth. Still... not my cup of tea
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
If I say that I have never read anything like this before, I won't be wrong. Random Magic is one of the most original novel I have read recently. I loved the characterization. I felt as if I knew Winnie and Henry - I really grew attached to them. There were times when I felt annoyed and exasperated at Henry for his cowardice, yet I warmed up to him eventually. This was mainly because he is not like the usual male protagonists. (Or maybe I like men being weak....hmm..) We usually have females behaving like damsels-in-distress but here it was the other way around :) Towards the end, Henry grows a lot as a character. He evolves from a terrified boy to a brave young man .I think this has already been said by other reviewers as well, but Winnie has to be the best character in the book. She is brave, determined, funny and totally "kick-ass" , if I may say so. She always has the perfect solution,always knows what to do. Her solutions don't make sense all the time, but that's what makes it so funny.
The prologue , though not so much related to the plot still adds to the enjoyment of the book. I adored the description of the haunted mansion. I believe that the vivid and colorful descriptions of the settings and the characters are one of the best aspects of the book. It brings every character , every setting alive .We get to meet so many different characters from different stories and myths - not just Alice but so many others. The incredible thing is it never got too overwhelming for me. Usually I am uncomfortable with too many characters.
I can totally see this book as a Tim Burton. In fact the book played like a movie in front of my eyes. I haven't enjoyed such an adventurous novel for a long time. I was blown away by the author's imagination. What a world she has created! This book is non-stop fun - we meet new characters in every chapter, visit new places and have adventures alongside our protagonists - Henry and Winnie.
Random magic is magical, funny and an adventurous ride from start to end! It is crazy imaginative , witty and so very clever. More than anything , the book is a great escape.The book lives up to the title - it is random and it is captivating. You will find yourself drawn to the world that the author has created. I was hooked right until the last page.I LOVED it ! I can't say that enough times. Random Magic, for me , was one hell of a fun ride! The book's brand of humour may not be everyone's cup of tea , but it sure is mine!
When I first started Random Magic, I was pretty enthused. I'd been chatting with the author, and her emails were hilarious and scattered in a fun, quirky way, and the book seemed much like those emails. It was quirky and scattered and absurd and random for sure, and I look a good bit of quirky/absurd/random in my life. (quirksurdom?) The book was more sort of a series of weird little vignettes that were connected by this search for Alice (of Wonderland fame), and for about 1/3 of the book, I was willing to go along with it. Things were funny, I was enjoying myself, and though there was always a part of me that said this is certainly not a book for everyone, I did think it was the right book for me.
But apparently it's about 1/3 the book for me, because as much as I enjoy random quirky weirdness, at some point, I just wanted to get to it already. The vignettes started to feel too drawn out and, well, random, and though they were always funny on their own, with so manypiled together, one on the next on the next on the next, it just got to be too much. The frenetic zaniness was really fun in the beginning, but by the middle I was just wishing for some restraint. It was like everything that was in Soren's head -- every. little. thing. -- made it to the page, and though each of those things was a fun little gem, it was a few gems too many. Save some for the next necklace, this one's weighing me down.
So it's kind of a weird one for me to review. I liked what I read, but I wanted to stop reading... I just wanted to have some sense of where it was going; I wanted an end in sight, some idea that there was plotting involved, planning and forethought and not just "sit down and write, and whatever happens, happens." I think I could have found this truly enjoyable if there had been some restraint, if Soren had saved some of the antics and vignettes for another book, and instead focused on making the ones in this one fewer but stronger. But it is a fun read, if at times overwhelming, and there are certainly those who like it quite fine as is. [check out vvb32 reads or the "Winterlong" Random Magic Tour for more]
The family solicitor has been called because Henry has been missing for three weeks. The usual suspects have been gathered and then a strange little girl with blond hair and a pinafore appears out of nowhere. She is, without a doubt, Alice, from the beloved children's classic. Alice explains that Henry is where Henry should be, where he went years ago when Alice herself was misplaced by Professor Random, a teacher at Henry's school. She then recounts the tale of how Henry saved the world by finding her. One night Henry was out of bed late and ended up hiding from the head mistress in Professor Random's classroom. Random himself shows up quite distraught because he had just popped into Alice in Wonderland to have tea with Alice and somehow he inadvertently lost her, because he foolishly used a first edition for his literary escapade. He pleads with Henry to find Alice because if she disappears forever the world will be destroyed because there is no book that has had a greater influence on children then Alice's book has. Henry gets handed an hourglass and a compass to find his way back, gets doused in fairy dust and ends up in the wrong book, without the compass to bring him back. But as Random sees it, perhaps he was supposed to be in Myths and Legends, not Wonderland.
Henry falls straight into the middle of a mob scene. At the center is Winnie a doodle witch who Henry kind of saves and then flees with. Lucky for Winnie Henry showed up and lucky for Henry Winnie seems to know her way around this bizarre world Henry has fallen into. After fleeing villagers with pitchforks and navigating the white forest, crossing a chasm barred by riddles and entering the block forest they ride the back of a whatwolf and spend some time with vampires straight out of a Charles Addams cartoon. From the castle of the De Morgue's to the home of the Muses, from submarines to Pirates, from floating cities to vicious chess matches to evil witches, they must brave the vast unknowns in the hope that by tea time they will find a little girl in a blue pinafore somewhere in this wilderness.
Henry, in a very Arthur Dent move tries to save the world by tea time in his pajamas. Of course to save the world he must first find Alice, who is missing from Wonderland. Those two sentences embody for me what is at work in this book... other books all mashed together to make something new... something that doesn't quite work for me. There's obviously Lewis Carroll, but there are so many different authors at play and homages that it's hard to find Sasha Soren's voice. From characters disappearing, like in Fforde's Eyre Affair, to pirates reminiscent of Walter Moers' Captain Blue Bear, to just out and out re-imaginings of scenes from Labyrinth to Alice in Wonderland to Harry Potter... I could just not get past this literary mash-up of randomness. I think I might have accepted the vast array of references if not for two glaring problems. The lack of plot and the lack of definition of place. This book is what the title implies, random. The overall arc is the tenuous thread of finding Alice, but there's just too much time spent going through these weird vignettes of bizarre folk and there overly clever banter peppered with literary allusions. I will say that sometimes the banter is well written, but it is overall so nonsensical that you don't care what they are saying and just wish they would get on with it.
But what bothered me most of all was the creation of this world. Alice in Wonderland works because Wonderland is such a very distinct world. There are laws and logic that Carroll created that govern the world, no matter how illogical it seems. There are no laws, there is no logic, and the world is so vastly different from one sector to the next that you can't envision them as part and parcel of a whole world. Plus Wonderland had a distinct time and place. It was a mirror image of the Victorian society that Carroll lived in. Here? I have no idea. What time period is this to take place in? At first I thought Victorian because of the initial set up and the general descriptions. But then there was a reference to a Bentley, which puts this square in the 1920s, at the earliest. But then other anachronisms would pop up, references to The Blair Witch Project, Disney Land, ships with motors, Martha Graham, Cirque du Soleil, The Beatles and their Yellow Submarine, Greenpeace, Bingo grannies, Douglas Adams and neon (yes I kept track). These would break into the world she was trying to create, like little seeps of other time periods, and while an author like Terry Pratchett can make this work, because it fits in the (disc)world he has created, it doesn't work here. There needs to be something fixed in this world to make it believable to some extent. Wonderland is believable, this world is not.
In the final analysis, this book is not suited to my tastes. With no structure and no driving force there was no reason, other than this post, to keep reading. Other people might enjoy the witty dialogue and the vignettes of weirdness, but I was just rankled by the Carroll rip offs. There is homage and there is rewriting. Sasha Soren has just re-purposed parts of Alice in Wonderland. Using lines of dialogue and scenes to make it all self referential. This makes it less her story and more just a bad parody. If these were eliminated I think the book would be more it's own creation. You can never do it better than Carroll so why try? Create a loving homage, switch it up, don't use the same material from rote. Do what Lynn Truss did in her short story, Tennyson's Gift, about Charles Dodgson, mirror, reflect, don't copy. Or look to Return to Oz! In one breath a loving tribute, but in another, a horrific nightmare that could have easily happened to Dorothy. Sasha Soren could one day be a great writer, I truly feel that, which I think is why this book so disappointed me.
. I'm happy to say that the real experience of reading the book lived up to the vicarious one of hearing what other people thought of it.
First off, though, and this should definitely count as fair warning; this is not a book to read when you're tired, or when your brain is not functioning at maximum capacity. There is a lot of doublespeak, entendre, verbal acrobatics, and general mayhem woven into each and every page. No element of a published book is safe from the author's wacky sense of humor- even the blurbs at the beginning of the book get the once-over. Readers need to take time to digest what each sentence says, to let the world of the book kind of unfold and percolate, and to absorb what each character is and what he/she represents. This isn't a book you can skim and expect to get the full experience.
It's difficult to get into a lengthy discussion of the different elements of the story without giving something away; there's plenty to go over and to digest, and the only advice I can give is to read the book and then you'll get what I mean. The two main characters, Henry and Winnie Flapjack, are thrust into one misadventure/less-than-desirable situation after another and, whether through intuition, magic or sheer dumb luck, they survive. Mythological creatures and popular story characters lurk within every page; if you blink you might miss a reference or a play on words. I'll say right now- the Prologue is easily my favorite section- the verbal acrobatics really shine here, and the story hasn't even started yet!
And yet, within that same realm lies one thing that I didn't enjoy about the book. I did feel, at times, that the pace of the story suffered for the humor, and there were certainly times when I was hoping the witty banter would end and that we could just get on with it and move on to the next event. By that same count, Henry spends a lot of time in Too Stupid to Live territory, and Winnie spends a lot of time saving his ass; I admit there were many points where I was kind of hoping Winnie would relieve Henry of the responsibility of the adventure they were having and just let something eat him.
All things considered, though, this was an enjoyable book that falls decidedly off the beaten path of what's out there in fiction right now. There's plenty of fantasy and adventure to go around, wordplay that makes you think, and lots of twists and turns in the plot to make everything jive together nicely.
When the author contacted me and requested her book to be reviewed, I wasn't sure if I wanted to review it. She informed me or should I say warned me?, that it was a bit "off the wall" and probably not for everyone. So, I was a little hesitant. But after several correspondences with her, with her quirky and carefree attitude, I couldn't help but be enchanted by her and curious about her book. So, I accepted the request. After reading it, I can honestly say, without a doubt, I have never read anything like it!
The above book description pretty much lets you know what the premise of the book is about. Winnie and Henry book hop in search of Alice. Along thier journey they encounter mythical creatures, infamous storybook characters, and clever puzzles. While I had a hard time keeping track, of who was saying what, and who was doing what,and where they were at times, I found the characters to be entertaining and fun. I also think, I developed a soft spot for Winnie, probably because she was a take charge kinda gal and a bit of a smartass. It was easy for me to relate to her.
I think it would be very scary to look inside the mind of Sasha Soren. The world she created was a bit of Pippi Longstocking meets Monty Python in Wonderland, then shaken into a chaotic tale filled with parody. Although, confusing at times, the author managed to bring the world to life with her colorful descriptions, humor, innuendos, and her constant doublespeak, which unfortuantely at times caused me to doubleread.
Overall,...hmm... LOL...Okay...You ever see something that should cause you to turn away (You know like a car crash!), but you can't seem to stop looking at it? Well, that is how this book was for me. It confused the hell out of me, annoyed me with all the doublereading it caused, made me dizzy with all the chaos, that I actually had to take a couple of breaks from it. But, somehow for some reason, I always returned to it, even with all of the negative reasons not to. Why you ask? I found myself enchanted with the wit and whimsical story, the very colorful and engaging characters, and the fantastical world that the author created. Sasha Soren embedded her quirky and vibrant personality into every page, I couldn't help but not like it. I have come to the conclusion, that Random Magic is not only appropriate for the title, but the very essence of this book.
I don’t know how on earth to describe this book. I’d like to say that I understood it. I’d really like to hang out with the cool kids and their thick glasses and say it was tre’ cool. But folks, that would be lying. And in my opinion you shouldn’t lie when giving a review.
I was contacted about Random Magic a couple of weeks ago, and I was quite excited to be part of the tour. It was only when I visited the RMT Tour – Pirates! website that I realized the author has been touring with Random Magic on and off for the last year. It must have really taken a lot of time and effort, and I find it pretty amazing and wonderful that someone goes through all that trouble to promote their book. It shows that the author really loves his work, and is still as passionate about it as in the beginning. After I signed up for the tour, I got an entire package in my mailbox approximately a week later. In the package there was the book (of course!), but much more as well. Naturally, I didn’t get the references at first, but it became clear enough when I read the book. There was a rubber ducky, a garland with hearts, a pirate card, a beautiful red feather, a wonderful bookmark and much more. It was quite the surprise, and I felt very happy with it. Not every author puts together an entire box full of goodies referencing to their book. It was highly original, and it raised my expectation for the book.
Just a warning ahead, I promised that I would do a dual language review for this book, as a special bonus feature for the Pirates Tour. This is a one-time occassion though, and I’m not going to write dual language reviews for every book I read from now on. One time occassion, people, so enjoy it while it lasts ;) My English review will be first, and then I will add my review in Flemish/Dutch below. There’s also an additional bonus feature, which is an extremely cool Pirate’s Game! I made an extra post for the bonus feature. Aye, matey! Which reminds me of how very suitable this is, a pirate-theme post, right in the release week of Pirates of the Carribean 4: On Stranger Tides. On another note, go see that movie. It’s amazing. And now, on to the review. English Review
I had trouble deciding whether Random Magic was actually, as the title suggests, completely random, or, as I have been inclined to believe after reading the book, utterly brilliant. I vote for random brilliance. And I must admit that this is one of the most difficult reviews I’ve had to write in like, ever. It’s hard trying to put my thoughts into words, because in all honesty, my thoughts about the book are probably just as random as the book itself.
First, there’s a reference to haunted houses, which doesn’t really make all that much sense, but is hilarious all the same. Next, we see that the family sollicitor has been called because Henry Witherspoon has been missing for three weeks. While his friends worry about his whereabouts, a young girl comes strolling in, a girl who looks exactly like Alice from Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland. She tells Henry’s friends not to worry, because he is exactly where he should be, in a place where he has been before, and where he always wanted to return. It’s pretty clear by now that Alice loves to talk in riddles, or that she has a very awkward way of explaining herself. She then confides them with the story of how Henry first travelled to Edgeland, a land between the pages of a book, because Professor Random – who is everything his name suggests him to be – was stupid enough to put Alice back in the wrong book. Unfortunately, the professor puts Henry in the wrong book as well, Myths and Legends rather than Alice in Wonderland. And Henry, who probably thinks his luck must have run up a long time ago, ends up in the middle of the mob scene, the mob’s target Winnie Flapjack, a self-proclaimed doodle witch. What Henry doesn’t know is that he probably ran into the person most capable of helping him find his way in this strange, mystical world. Because if someone can take Henry to find Alice back, then it’s probably Winnie Flapjack.
After escaping the raging mob, solving riddles to cross a chasm, riding on the back of a whatwolf, visiting the castle of the notorious De Morgue’s family and having a rendez-vous with none other than the Muses, they are only half-way in their adventures. They still have to cross the Peculiar Sea, get rid of a bunch of annoying Pirates, find the house of the Baba Yaga, escape a floating city where people turn into hideous monsters, defeat the Red Queen in a chess match…and that all before tea time.
The creativity of Sascha Soren knows no boundaries. She finds inspiration in Greek mythology (the muses for instance, but more about them later), today’s urban legends (vampire, the De Morgue family), Alice in Wonderland itself (the riddles, the Red Queen), folklore (Baba Yaga) and her own imagination. How much more funnier and interesting can it get? This by far the most original novel I have ever read. It would not surprise me if teachers were talking about it in their literature classes ten years for now, and call it something like the “random genre”. I know that there’s currently this movement in poetry, of poets slapping random words together to make a poem, and I can well imagine Random Magic being the first prose work in the “random genre”. It fits with the 21st century style of wanting everything and getting nothing, our lives itself being a mismatch of all different things. No one is “something” anymore, we are all several “somethings”, randomly put together in constructions that miraculously work. Random Magic works a bit like this as well. It’s mostly dialogue-driven, and at first it seems utterly random and hard to make something out of it, but then it all clicks together and you realize you’re looking at a piece of utmost brilliance.
Sascha Soren takes Lewis Carroll’s sparkling, bright and imaginative story of Alice in Wonderland, and practically puts the lightbulb on. We see a world that’s even more crazy, even more random, even more unreal, and all the more fun than the world we have grown accostumed to. Just take a second to imagine it: rubber duckies changing into actual submarines, a real-life chess game with actual people as the pawns that can only be compared to the chess game Harry Potter was submitted to in one of the first books in the series, the muses actually come to life, a strange and peculiar family that reminds you instantly of the Adams Family. As soon as you open Random Magic, you’re in for a rollercoaster of events, all equally bizarre and yet strangely familiar. Searching for the references to classic works of literature or more modern things like TV shows and popular book series of nowadays, is basically a sport on its own. The humor is amazing, and I had a smile on my face from page one till the very end. Of course, it’s completely and utterly random – but that’s the fun of it.
Winnie Flapjack is a cheerful, determined and intelligent character. I instantly liked her, with her quirky attitude and light-hearted humor. And she’s a doodle witch. Is there anything remotely more interesting than a doodle witch? I don’t think even Baba Yaga can beat that in terms of coolness. Henry on the other hand, is of course unfamiliar with the strange world he has been trapped in, and is constantly wondering “why this” “why that”, while he should probably just shut up already and let Winnie do the talking. They’re an odd pair by definition, equally random as their surroundings, and their friendship turning into love seems a random event as well. I was glad to see Henry finally becoming more independent towards the end of the book – it was about time! Their adventures are hilarious, their interactions ranging between “kill Henry now” and “aawww, so cute”, and they fit the rest of the theme of the book. Random.
I must admit that there were two scenes I enjoyed the most in this book. The first being the scene at the house of the muses. May I introduce you to H.P. (Lovecraft, for the non-litterate amongst us), Shakes (Shakespeare), Bauds (Baudelaire), Poe (Edgar Allen Poe), a bunch of gloomy Russian poets, quite a few Georges, and other notables, who hang around the House of the Nine Muses. Also, all of the muses have nicknames, some of which are so random, they will make you crack up with laughter. Note also that H.P.’s comment on just about everything is “ghastly”, and Bauds actually says “zut alors” occasionally. The second of my favorite scenes was the scene at the home of the DeMorgue family. I’ve always loved the Addams family, and the DeMorgue’s made me think back about how much fun it used to be to watch an episode of the Addams family. That said, the DeMorgues are probably even more ghastly and gaunt.
There’s an additional chapter added at the end of the book describing how Lady DeMorgue got into the state she is now. I really enjoyed reading that chapter, and although it’s several tones darker than the light-heartedness of the rest of the book, I found it highly amusing and extremely original as well. How many times can one cheat death, or challenge someone as terrifiyng as Death itself or the God of the Underworld? Anyway, I must agree with the author’s and editor’s decision that adding that chapter in the book would have made the pace slow down significantly, but it was a nice bonus at the end.
Now, there’s a reason why I gave this book four stars rather than five. I felt like I couldn’t get an actual grasp of the characters because they were a bit too random. As their surroundings, they’re a mismatch of feelings and emotions, and it was hard to actually understand some of their actions. I also felt like sometimes the plotline was lacking (it’s all about the journey here, not the destination) and there were too many secondary characters to keep track off. Also, the cover really doesn’t fit the book. It’s too normal, too ordinary for that. Not that I’d make any book lose points because their cover isn’t great, but it’s just a note I would like to add.
If you’re tired of literature the way it’s always been, and you’re up for something so completely random, so completely hilarious and so completely mind-blowing that it’s going to change your perspective on books forever, then Random Magic definetely is the rigth book for you. It offers everything from an imaginative plot to hilarious characters to brilliant dialogues and references to popular authors, musicians, myths and legends. I would recommend it to everyone who’s not afraid of something new and shiny, and isn’t wary of the peculiar and the strange.
What is that, you say? A book that can be described as Alice in Wonderland meets Harry Potter? YES PLEASE!
Random Magic by Sasha Soren is a firecracker box crammed full of crayon-colourful, whizz-happy tricks. I was so excited to be accepted as part of the somewhat extensive blog tour for this book I almost wet my pants. Figuratively, of course. And the care package I received upon acceptance into the tour did little to quash my anticipation - there were chocolates, rubber duckies and a symbolic (but very real) blue feather that suddenly floats gently down into your lap as if out of nowhere, when you reach the very middle of the book... Obviously, the author and her marketing team care very much about spraying the right ambience to surround and envelop the story, and that's what struck me most about this novel: The Atmosphere. Well, that and the fact that upon finishing this book you'll want to sit down, put your legs up, nurse your poor frazzled head and sip some cool water, as if you've run a marathon.
But first, the story itself. Henry Witherspoon is an educated, upper-class boy who is thrown almost absentmindedly into adventure - when Alice goes missing from the beloved classic Alice In Wonderland, Henry must kick himself into action before Alice, and Wonderland itself spontaneously combusts. He unwittingly enlists the help of the self-proclaimed "doodlewitch" Winnie, and together they prepare themselves for an Alice-hunt. Leaping from book to book looking for the girl with hair the colour and consistency of cream, Henry and Winnie must battle a myriad of mythical beings and be assaulted by Labyrinth-style puzzles in order to solve the mystery of the little girl lost. Can Henry and Winnie "save the world by tea time"? I sure hope so. I thought at this point I'd also include the book trailer, so here it is:
Random Magic is such a glorious idea. It's as if Ms Soren was on an extreme sugar high during the "lightbulb moment". It's full of whimsy and teacups - you really have to suspend a helluva lot of disbelief to go with the flow of the story, but if you do, the magic carpet'll lift right off the ground and take you with it, whether you're ready or not. And to be perfectly truthful, I wasn't really ready to be carried along for about three or four chapters. I resisted it - the story launches straight into the adventure and there are an incredible amount of characters to keep track of all in an instant. But after a bit of time and some calming breaths you'll settle into the rhythm. This is the perfect book for chillun who are interested in learning about the foundations of classical myth, and thrive on what I like to call "instant-noodle" adventure - two minutes and the adventure's ready to gobble up.
Almost completely dialogue-driven and jammed with halting sentences, concentration is a must for positive readings of Random Magic. At points I got rather annoyed at Henry's intrusions and repetitive questions on Winnie's pearls of wisdom, and wished he would just sit down and be a good boy and listen to what the wacky witch had to say, dognamit! I do have a short attention-span though, so perhaps I'd be in the minority on this one. You might find Henry's curiosity appealing and idiosyncratic in a GOOD way, *wink*.
This is a cracker of a book to read to some young "advanced readers" just before bedtime. Girls and boys will be dreamily exhausted after running an absolute gauntlet of crazy monsters, and so will you. Kiddies will also appreciate the rapid bursts of onomatopoeia and the general witty commentary from Winnie zipping and zagging through each page. Don't get me wrong though, teens and older ones can enjoy this style of book too - there's some more mature humour that thankfully can go over the younger heads, but generally those who love the adventures of Alice in Wonderland will find something familiar to love in Random Magic, too.
Interestingly, in the Advanced Copy version I received, there's a "deleted scene" at the end of the novel which Ms Soren, along with her editing team, decided to cut away because it didn't fit well with the rest of the story. And I totally understand what she means. The deleted scene is a backstory about one of the characters which lends itself more to the "evil clown" side of the Carnival fair rather than the "ferris wheel" feel of the rest of the book, if you catch my drift. Strangely though, I think I prefer it - I do love me some tales of dark whimsy - the blacker, the better. Again, it might just be personal preference - just the way I prefer Alice's Adventures Through The Looking Glass to the flossier (and more well-known) companion (see that review, here). I can only hope that Ms Soren might choose to write a sequel in the vein of the deleted story...I'll cross my fingers for it. And toes.
Actually, this book reminds me a lot of a young Australian author, Alexandra Adornetto, who at 14 wrote a book called The Shadow Thief and spouting the writing style of Enid Blyton... on crack. Fortunately, Alexandra won the lottery in cover art for her book (see cover here), whereas Random Magic's cover...well, let's be nice and say I have a bone to pick with it. I mean, CLEARLY, this cover is Nicole Kidman's face. Post-too-many-botox-and-collagen-injections. With red pigtails. It ain't the most original picture by any book's standards. And nor is it the right style for this particular book, in my humble opinion. Now I know that this is not the author's fault in any way, but I do hope that perhaps there might be a new cover of the book printed soon. Something that better depicts the quirky, youthful and left-of-centredness of the book, like a tea party scene with Henry as the Mad Hatter, for example, rather than the face of a mainstream 42 year old celebrity painted in somewhat garish shading. But, eh, it's a small bone to pick! And maybe no one agrees with me anyway, hehe.
All in all, Random Magic might be a bit too quirky for some, but it's a strangely lovable creature. Kind of like that eccentric neighbour three doors down who recites poetry to her flowers, and throws the newspaper back at the postman. AND has about a thousand cats popping out of each nook and cranny around the yard, including the evil spitting one that you have to cross the road in order to avoid on the way to school. But all is forgiven because that same strange neighbour bakes the most delicious cupcakes - and always offers you the biggest one.
This is exactly what Random Magic is like. Try a bite, and see if it's to YOUR taste.
Rating: 3.5 candy-coloured stars for Random Magic.
This will be a quite long review as I have chosen to write my thoughts on the chapters along the way. I've divided it by groups of five chapters at a time. Hope you enjoy my new and interesting way to review! I'd say this book is a mixture of being in Wonderland with Harry Potteresque characters and adventuring along like in The Neverending Story. There are so many references to pop culture (The Beatles and The Blair Witch Project) and I am sure that I missed a few along the way. Very hard to write this without giving everything away, but the adventures of Winnie and Henry are just filled with mischief, excitement and wonderment.
PROLOGUE I was completely confuzzled - the scenes and dialogue were so utterly random and made no sense to me, but given the title of the book I kept on trucking. Once I arrived at chapter one when Henry appears things became a little clearer and the story started to unfold and make a lot more sense.
CHAPTER 1- 5 -Professor Random reminds me of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland a lot. -I loved how Henry was pulled into the search for the missing Alice... very comical. How fun would it be to end up in a book?!? -I love the titles: In Which Henry Meets A Powerful Witch (Sort Of), Rescues Her (Sort Of), and Misses His Geometry Test (Thankfully, Because That Would Have Been An Utter Null) -Ever heard of a doodle witch? Me neither, but Henry meets one names Winnie "I'm a doodle witch, practice witchery 'til I find what I'm really good at." -Still haven't figured out the meaning of the feather or the rubber duck from the parcel, but I did notice that Winnie collects random things along her journeys, so I wonder what she will use them for
CHAPTER 6-10 -I love how Winnie speaks in riddles and thinks she sounds like she's making sense to Henry and I suppose when Henry speaks like we do, that he sounds just as confusing to her -I'm loving all the references to so many great fairy tales like Rapunzel and Red Riding Hood - its a lot of fun having new characters cross the path of the characters we've grown to love over the years - especially when the story lines get all twisted and you see things from a different point of view (like how Winnie tells Rapunzel to just use her own hair to free herself from the tower instead of waiting for a man to rescue her - GIRL POWER!)
CHAPTER 11-15 -This is where we meet the de Morgue family - they are creepy and remind me of the Addams Family or The Munsters, they are all doom and gloom vampires with creeptastic servants and an unusual daughter that is reminiscent of Marilyn Munster though Hypatia is a lot more hip and trendy for our times (I wish we had more time to learn about them - or that they would have their own book someday)
CHAPTER 16-20 -information about Henry's weird Latin teacher Mrs. Literati (very neat to see who she is) -apparently green eyes are the mark of the highly unusual (I did not remember that when we first met Winnie that she has green eyes) -it's great to see a handful of morals in this story: "The whole world could give up on me. But I won't give up on me. Not ever." - Winnie Flapjack -wow Ms. Soren writes some of the most beautiful things - the words just flow so gently together and bring about the most amazing visuals
CHAPTER 21-25 -The Garden of the Nine Muses is probably one of my favourite places described so far - inspiration is EVERYWHERE! From song writing and poetry to the written word and astronomy - there are muses for pretty much anything and everything -My favourite muse is Callie who happens to be a lush and spends most of her time with authors trying to come up with new stories (her peers include Poe, Shakes, Twain, Baudy and many more)
CHAPTER 26-30 -PIRATES - now the blog tour I participated in makes so much sense and so does the rubber duck and feather -Is it possible to out-pirate a pirate? -Winnie explains how enchantments and spells work to Henry (Harum-Scarum.....)
CHAPTER 31-35 -Oh Henry!what adventures you find yourself upon with and without help -I am loving that there are so many lessons to learn throughout this book - this time we learn about LOVE "Consider what we lose when love is greedy, when all we think about is what we call ours... Whatever is most precious to us."
CHAPTER 36-40 -This stretch of the journey is magnificent with birght colours, clockwork and gemstone surroundings. Oh and just for the fun of it a ginormous game ensues called The Immortal Game (chess to the death) -So many things remind me of Alice in Wonderland or Alice Through the Looking Glass - yet they are not nearly the same (though the Red Queen is still just as mean and nasty) - oh and some of the chess players ride on beetles (kinda cute)
CHAPTER 41-46 (the end) -they finally meet Baba Yaga (the most powerful witch ever - and the weirdest one to boot). She is very ecentric. -so many fun references: Wizard of Oz, Hansel and Gretel, Cheshire Cat -Baron Samedi is quite the character if you parlez-vous francais - he wasn't what I expected though... I'd read reviews that loved him, but I actually like the Muses and the de Morgues better -the final chapters were a little confusing like the first ones, but slowly they started making sense to me -Henry has a hard choice to make - I think he did good with his choice from the sounds of it
DELETED SCENE (chapter 16 - the de morgues fleshed out) Oh yay! More info on the de Morgues! Ooooo there are mentions of Vlad, a love story, soulmates and more. Loving this deleted scene...love, death, the undead and more.
This was not our cup of tea. It was too random for us to follow along and we felt lost on what we were reading.
Here's the review that Sophie & I (Katie) did together for our Random Magic Blog Tour, which was set up like a coffee chat:
We're today's stop (12/19/10) in the Winter Longing blog tour for Sasha Soren's Random Magic. Sophie and I thought it would be fun to mix up our reviews a bit, which resulted in our coffee chat style review:
Characters - S-They were fun and whimsical for sure but lacked a sense of familiarity thus rendering them a bit un-relatable. Having said that, I liked Henry and sympathized with his search for the real Alice through a series of what appear to be haphazard and slightly nonsensical moments.
K- I would agree. I felt like I didn't connect on any level with the characters, as I was left feeling like I didn't get to know them. I wanted to feel like I was apart of their world and their journey, but I needed to feel a connection with them that I didn't get in order for that to happen. If I had to choose a character I did enjoy the most, I would also agree with your choice with Henry. I don't know if it's because he was on a quest that drew me to him the most, as you know how I like a good adventure. (Dawntreader anyone!?)
Plot - S- Shut up! *snickering* Back to Random Magic's Plot. It's very episodic. The story lives up to its title -- Random Magic. The episodic quality leaves you with a sense that you are dropped into a story and that perhaps there was a particular beginning that you may have missed. I loved the very long and silly chapter titles and I must say, I looked forward to them the most.
K- So if BinBons was lost in Wonderland would you go down the rabbit hole after him!?! *looks to Sophie, laughing* Okay sorry, I had to go there.
S- Yes brandishing my sword and all. *looks to K's pretty new Chronicles of Narnia with the Dawntreader cover*
K- I'm sure you would *laughing* Okay, seriously back to Random Magic's Plot. I was really lost with the plot. I'm not sure if I missed the satire bandwagon on this or if I made the mistake of going in reading the book thinking it was going to be like Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland or what. It wasn't what I expected at all. I think it's a book that needs to be read with a very open mind. I thought it was one thing, and it ended up being something completely different. I wanted to like it more than I did, but it's just not my cup of tea.
S- If a hot, snarky shadowhunter named Jace was lost in Wonderland, would you enjoy it then?
K- I'm sure he has a rune that prevents him from getting lost, plus he could fight his way out of Wonderland. lol
World Building - S- A very detailed although sometimes a trifle too dense nod at Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland series. Its fairytale-like landscape lends an air of frivolity and magic. But again, I was a little lost and given the fantasy nature of the book expected a more linear plot that builds upon itself.
K- I liked the fantasy aspect of the book, but I felt like it was kind of jumpy. Don't laugh, but even Alice In Wonderland left me scratching my head a few times. *looks to Sophie* Okay, fine. If there was a wolf or some sort of paranormal activity I would have followed Alice's adventures a little more closely.
S- Are you distracted by the thought of Jace?
K- Hmmm? Sorry, what was the question?
S- Just as I thought.
K- Ha, ha, very funny. I really did try to keep up with what was going on, but I felt more confused than satisfied. Normally I'm someone who falls in love with the world building of a book. This time I didn't feel like I was part of the world to make that connection.
Overall Impression - S- If you love Lewis Carroll and are a fan of pure fantasy, this whimsical tale is for you. As for me, it was a little too random in its episodes for me to follow along.
K- I think Random Magic lived up to it's name, as it is very random. Though it wasn't a book that I was able to enjoy as much as I wanted to, I would recommend this book to readers who love a different type of fantasy, or whimsical tale as you mentioned.
This book was sent to me from the author. It sounded like it would be an amazing book because it is a vague re-telling of Alice in Wonderland, except our protagonists are on an adventure to try to find Alice and stick her back into her own story. So, I thought I'd give it a read and offer an honest opinion. :)
The title, "Random Magic," pretty much sums up this book. It is INCREDIBLY random and there is magic on every page. It is one of the ultimate fantasy books in that it has everything - vampires, mermaids, unicorns, muses, pirates, and much more. Anything and everything is game.
When I read the book, I was hooked right away for about 1/3 to 1/2 way through. Then a part of me was hoping for more structure. Each adventure was amazingly detailed, but I wasn't able to anticipate what was going to happen next. If there was foreshadowing, I missed it. Truly, this is a random read. Perhaps a little too random for me.
The characters were well written. The female protagonist, Winnie, was feisty, clever, and spunky. She was a strong female character and that is something I really look forward to. The other protagonist, Henry, felt a bit flat. This was surprising, considering even some side characters had more to them than Henry. I felt Henry was just along for the ride and followed in Winnie's footsteps. He does grow a bit by the end of the book, but not enough for my personal preference.
The other characters, such as the side characters, were all vividly described and strong in their own rights. Sometimes it felt like a bit too much detail to just have for the 1-2 chapters they were in. Yes, it gives the overall impression of the person but the same can easily be done with a bit of dialogue (which was included anyways). I fell in love with some characters only to have them either not show up again, or come back in very little segments.
As for the plot, the whole "looking for Alice" thing gets put on the back-burner and the focus is on the immediate adventure or problem for a large portion of the book. Professor Random helps at the beginning, but then he isn't heard from again. The subplots are where this novel shines because there is a huge variety of them and they are all extremely detailed.
However, the writing felt at times to be more of a stream of consciousness rather than a traditional novel. I felt like Sasha Soren wrote down everything she was thinking, including the "Huh" and "Oh. Well then." moments. Some of the descriptions could have been cut out without hindering the story, and a stronger focus on finding Alice would have been nice, such as introducing more clues or just bringing it up more often.
I found the scenes that revolved around water to be the most exciting. There is one scene near the end of the book that felt more like an action scene than the rest and it really stuck with me. Another scene near the beginning, showed a twist on family dynamics and even some subtle commentary about religion. I think many of these scenes could have been cut out and placed into a new book (sequel?) just so we could have the opportunity to explore them a bit more. I would have loved to read more about the vampires, for example.
I think this book will be of the most benefit if you read it randomly. Take it off the shelf, read a couple of chapters and let your mind wander. Or even, read a chapter to a child at bedtime. For those with vivid imaginations, this book will fill you up.
If you are a person that needs a strict, semi-predictable plot, and room to make your own inferences, then this is probably not the book for you. But if you truly want a random read, then I can't think of a more magical or random book than this one.
I am still actually trying to look for the words to describe Random Magic, other than completely random.
Random Magic follows the story of Henry and Winnie on their search for Alice from the book, Alice in Wonderland. She escaped from the pages of her book into the pages of another.
Henry provided the human eyes to view the story through. Being a smart kid and extremely observant the train of thought we gleaned from being in his perspective made you feel like you were walking along side the pair as they searched.
Winnie was probably my second favourite character in the entire story, and considering how many characters there were, that’s really saying something. Winnie is a doodle-witch the name for a person who practises magic when they have nothing better to do. Winnie is one of those characters that no matter how many times you read the book, you could never really tell what exactly is going through her mind. She is constantly one step ahead and nothing ever seems to really faze her.
Random Magic wasn’t character driven and it didn’t really seem plot driven either. Random Magic reads like a jumbled mind, as things are thought of they are added, some back story here a visit to an ancient castle there all the while trekking on to the final point which was to find where Alice had ended up. I say this and some people will inevitably think “well what’s the point of that then?” and I say to you: The point is to get lost in the story.
I think this is why I loved Random Magic so much, sure at times it was hard to follow, but I got lost in a world that wasn’t structured or even mildly predictable. A world full of vanishing cats, hostile forests, moving chess pieces and evil substitute teachers from hell. None of it made sense and yet it all came together so well. There were cameos from nearly every fairytale I remember reading and characters that really just wouldn’t fit in anywhere else my favourites being the Muses.
The nine muses took form in Random Magic, one of those muses being Callie the writing muse. Callie was no doubt my favourite character and will remain my favourite character because Random Magic not only let me get lost in a world full of random magic, but it also let me get lost within my own imagination once again.
I can say right now that Random Magic will not be for everyone. There are inconsistent time jumps, a few unanswered questions and especially in the beginning it is a little hard to follow but for anyone that really wants to get lost in a story once again and not have any way of knowing how the story ends or what on earth is going to happen in between will absolutely love it.
I was sent this book for review by the very lovely Sasha Soren, and so this review is part of a series of reviews that will be online this week. If you look in the description box you’ll find links to the others. Each review contains a secret. If you collect all the secrets, you can enter a prize draw for a copy of the book and lots of goodies. The secret in my video will be obvious because this handy symbol will appear, as if by magic. The prize draw is open to all and ends 15th August 2012.
Reviewing the book of someone you know a little bit is actually kinda of difficult because your knowledge of their personality could colour your reading of the book. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t review The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. Having said that I tried to come to the book as neutrally as possible. Sacha Soren has created a whole world in this book, one that goes off like a firework as soon as you pick it up. It appeals to all your senses at once, which is a rare thing in a book, and something that was very welcome.
The main narrative of Winnie and Henry and their search for a certain missing Ms Wonderland is very engaging. For me, this was the best part of the book. I really liked the characterisation of Winnie, she’s not your typical female protagonist. She tough and clever and that appealed to me. Henry on the other hand is a bit of a grower, in that at first he’s a little irritating as he is dragged along with Winnie, his character develops into someone infinitely more sympathetic. I also love Soren’s turn of phrase. There were many instances where I found myself having a little chuckle about how a certain sentence had been constructed.
The book often lapses into vignettes which includes Baron Samedi who is a voodoo entity. He guards the gates of the cemetery, and is privy to all the secrets of the dead. Sometimes they felt very random and not pertinent to the main plot which was a real shame as it caused the narrative to slow down when it didn’t need to. There is so much packed into this book that actually, it could have been teased out into two novels. In the end, what I felt the book needed was someone to take hold of the reins and slow things down, simplify things a little.
Would I recommend this book? Yes I would but with the caveat that if you’re looking for something conventional, this book isn’t for you. If on the other hand, you’re looking for something experimental, magical and funny, this is possibly the book for you.
Professor Random has sneezed Alice right out of Wonderland. He sends young Henry Witherspoon into the book to find her and put her in her place before the world as we know it comes to an end. But Henry accidentally gets sent into the wrong book. Luckily, he meets the unflappable doodle witch, Winnie Flapjack, who takes him under her wing and helps him find his missing Alice.
This book is for those people who actually believe that it's about the journey and not the destination. Me? I just want to get where I'm going.
The book was fun, and I enjoyed seeing where Winnie and Henry were going to end up next and how they were going to get out of their current mess. The overall plot of finding Alice isn't a very big deal in the book though. It's more of an excuse to throw everything together. I enjoy books more if everything flows together better.
Winnie's solutions to problems were ingenious. Change live to dead? She can do that, no sweat. Defeat a crazy queen in chess? Sure. Take on a boat full of pirates? All in a day's work to Winnie.
Henry was a different matter. He was a loyal little thing with a big heart, but he was a little slow. He never learned to just do what Winnie said; he was always questioning her. He always came out the worse for it.
The pacing was a little off for my taste. Some of the vignettes dragged on too long for me.
Oh! I almost forgot! The prologue is horrible. As far as I can tell, it has very little to do with the rest of the book. So just skip it. My sister grabbed this and read it while she was house-sitting for me, and she couldn't wait for me to start it, just so she could ask me what was up with the prologue. We don't know. Anyone out there have any ideas?
I also really dislike that spacey Nicole Kidman cover. I was a little embarrassed to carry it around. And my review copy reeked of patchouli. I hate the smell of patchouli. I really wasn't sure I was going to be able to read it. The book stayed out on the porch airing out for a couple of weeks before I brought it back inside. It still smells, although it finally faded enough that I could read it.
That stuff aside, this was a fun book. It's not perfect, but if you're just looking for a romp through an author's over-the-top imagination, this is the book for you.
Thanks to the author for sending me a copy for review.
My Thoughts: Let me preface this review with a little about Sasha Soren. She is definitely one of the quirkiest, most wonderfully random people I've met in my very few months as a reviewer. This is a good thing, you guys. She possesses an uncanny attention to detail and a deep love for her characters. I knew when I cracked open Random Magic, that I would have a bunch of in-your-face, clever quips and humor.
At the risk of being entirely cliche and corny stating the obvious, Random Magic is very much that: RANDOM.
I had a pretty difficult time registering the first ten pages in my brain. I had no idea who any of the characters were, nor their role in the story, nor what the purpose was. Thankfully, once I got into the world of Winnie and Henry, I was a bit more at ease in my reading journey. I love the fact that the author writes her books the same way that she writes her emails. Very conversational.
Winnie was an interesting heroine. She's one part fierce, two parts ADHD, and a large helping of WTF. She constantly kept Henry on his toes and I really admired that about her. Though she was difficult to follow at times, I just let her do her thing and eventually it (well, most of it) came to me. Henry, God love him, was such a meek thing at first. He let Winnie boss him around, but luckily grew a pair towards the end. I was always rooting for Henry, having been shoved into a situation about which he hadn't the slightest clue what to do.
There were an ABUNDANCE of secondary and tertiary characters. I couldn't keep them straight, nor did I necessarily understand what purpose they served. I did, however, have a soft spot for the Count and Countess De Morgue and wish I could've seen more of them and read a bit more of their back story.
The issue I had with Random Magic is that I think that Sasha Soren is a bit too clever. I didn't understand the reason for this and that and I feel like that lessened the quality of my experience. I can honestly say that there were some parts where I felt like I didn't understand the punchline, but was just laughing along to save face. I feel like if I was a little more experienced, literarily (I know, I know), I would've GOTTEN more of the jokes and quips.
All in all, an interesting, fun, and punny read... it just fell short for me.
Seriously though, you guys: WHAT is Nicole Kidman doing on this cover?!
After misplacing Alice from the pages of Alice in Wonderland, Henry is sent off by Professor Random into the pages of another book to find her. Henry lands in the story, forgetting his compass, and now having no way to get back. Upon arrival, he meets Winnie Flapjack, a doodle-witch who agrees to help him on his quest to find Alice.
Together the pair search high and low, encounter strange creatures in forests, seek help by vampires, face a group of pirates, and challenge a furious red queen, to find Alice. Will they be able to find her before the sand in the hourglass runs out and save the world by tea time?
Winnie is definitely my favorite character of the many presented in Random Magic. She is brave, determined, witty, and always one step ahead of everything, no matter how confusing her reasoning may be. I wish I could spend a day in Winnie’s thoughts and see the world as she does. Henry came in close second for me; he was an interesting character and I truly enjoyed watching him grow as a character, evolving from a scarred and shy little boy into a courageous young man.
My favorite elements of the story are the vividly described settings and the brilliant way Sasha Soren integrates characters from other stories and myths into Random Magic. I appreciate the whole concept of incorporating Alice from Alice in Wonderland without it actually having the same storyline or a remake of the story. I enjoyed seeing Alice being presented in a different light instead of the fairy-tale we are all used to. Random Magic follows Henry and Winnie’s adventure in finding Alice, where Alice is more of a secondary character who finds herself in a different book than where she belongs.
Sasha Soren is a wonderful story teller that has a unique writing style. She created a magical world, enchanting, imaginative and filled with fun and adventure. Her readers will feel as though they are taken along for the ride, side by side with Henry and Winnie throughout their journey. Sasha Soren’s novel is wonderfully random and captivating, which stays true to the title of Random Magic.
After reading this novel, I can undoubtedly say that I believe in Random Magic. I would definitely recommend Random Magic to anyone who enjoys Young Adult fiction, with lots of fun, magic, and adventure.
Of late the thump of books coming through my mail slot has become a very frequent and delightful sound. I love three things above all else as worldly pleasures, cats, books and food, so naturally surprise packages of books (who doesn't love real mail after all?) are the highlight of my afternoons.
So imagine my surprise when one of these packages opened up to this! This was not just a book delivery but an experience. As I unwound wrapping paper and iridescent tinsel I have to say I was strongly reminded of the packages I used to send and receive with my good university friends when I was back home in Saskatoon and they were spread about in Ontario. It came complete with a fun letter, tea, chocolate, a rubber ducky a book mark and as I started to read a feather stuck between the pages. Each piece was tied into the story in some way, and it felt like part of the pleasure was discovering what each things purpose was.
The package, of course, contained Sasha Soren's Random Magic. And the minute I finished the never ending Tommyknockers I pulled it off my shelf and sunk my teeth into it.
I've posted the description a couple of times, but roughly it's the story of Henry, who goes on a quest to find Alice (as in from Wonderland) after she is accidentally shifted from her story. Henry meets Winnie, a beginners witch and they set off on a mammoth adventure in which they have a very great deal of bad luck and meet the most astounding number of folks, whatwolves, vampires, muses, witches and more.
I was immediately sucked in and have to admit that the first day I read half of the book and barely put it down. It has a whimsy reminiscent of Terry Gilliam and Diana Wynn Jones mixed together, and a voice quite a bit unlike any I've heard before. Henry and Winnie were both very love able and the various characters they run into interesting and enjoyable. It has a rapid pace, with lots of break points which makes for a really smooth read, and gives you ample places for pee breaks from the tea you're quite inevitably going to find yourself drinking. If only because everyone in the story so frequently are.
An enchanting read, I highly recommend it for your next reading sit in (rainy afternoons anyone? snowy ones coming soon!).
It just has to be read, but I can give it a try. Alice in Wonderland has gone missing, and Henry Whiterspoon is sent to find her. In a strange land he encounters a young doodle witch named Winnie, gods, demigods, floating cities, and all kinds of weird things.
By now you have noticed that this is one strange book. Think Alice in Wonderland meets The Hitchhikers' guide to the and whatever other book that is filled with humour and nonsense.
I enjoyed this book because it was just so strange, not too strange, but come on, Alice in Wonderland with mad hatters and bunnies. You know how strange books can be. Here the world seems new, it's not Wonderland, except it is. But we meet a bunch of new characters, the Nine Muses, and one is drunk while another is being chased by Eros. The big bad wolf, Thor, Baba Yaga, vampires, and we get to hear that Hades has lost control over a part of the underworld and that is now a casino.
With many books you can figure out what is going to happen, but with this one, just try because you will fail. New strange adventures are always around the next corner. New fun things waiting to happen, dangers to avoid and Alice to find.
The book is amusing and utterly silly. You can't miss the beginning and the quotes from reviews, those are hilarious and written by the author. Every chapter has this little box about what is gonna happen and I do think those were the best part of the book. I would like to go into the author's mind and see how she thinks. How did she write this funny, illogical, and fantastical book?
Recommendation and final thoughts:
It is not for those that want to walk the straight line in literature. It is the book for those who enjoy the silly, the strange, the weird, the fantastical and just a good adventure. And she is such a good writer and the way she plays with words, oh that brain of hers.
Reason for reading:
I am not one to turn down strange
Ok if the artist drew something and did not think about Nicole Kidman I will be amazed.
Random Magic is truly.. random. The first chapter seems to be off the wall and hard to understand – but only at first. One must continue reading to fully grasp the quirky, eccentric, and brilliant style that is Sasha Soren. (It also helps to have a dictionary handy).
Once Henry comes into the picture, the book (for me) read with much more ease. As a student at (enter long-quirky-title-here), his professor, Professor Random, insists that he misplaced Alice from Alice in Wonderland. Yes, the professor lost a character from a book. The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland was now just, “The Adventures of in Wonderland.” Henry thought it was weird too. The request from the professor though, was that if Henry doesn’t jump into the book and find her, the world (as we know it) will end! Henry feels as if his professor is a bit of a wack job, but humors him anyway – until he actually finds himself thrown into a book (but the wrong one!)
His first adventure in this wonderful, zany, phenomenal world introduces him to a small-time witch, Winnie Flapjack. This woman has no fear. No fear, even though she is being prepped to be burned at the stake by the hateful townspeople. Henry comes to the rescue and pairs up with this interesting character who seems to know her way around this magical world. This is good considering Henry has no idea where he is or what he is up against.
All while trying to find Alice, the two find themselves in many different (sometimes thrilling) situations requiring them to think quickly and follow their gut (wherever it may lead!) It also helps that Winnie has her magic feather handy.
I found Random Magic to be brilliantly written. At times it reminded me of Harry Potter (with the word play) and at other times it felt like something I would be reading in some philosophy class with all it’s metaphors and such. There is definitely more to this story than meets the eye. Brilliant.
When I picked up my copy of Random Magic I only had a vague idea of what to expect and that was pirates, magic, and fantasy. I got those three things and more. Random Magic is what I like to call Alice Fantasy because it’s not exactly definable by genre, but at the same time comes across as being inspired by Alice in Wonderland; that sort of surreal setting where the world hasn’t the logic of our own reality, but a logic of the unreal, and is a story that will throw the unexpected at you and keep you thinking about it long after.
Although it is Alice inspired, Random Magic has its own merits, and is its own story. Alice from Alice in Wonderland does make an appearance and of course it’s something a reader is going to find memorable because Alice is so steeped in today’s pop culture and a memorable figure herself, but that doesn’t mean a story with an Alice feel is going to be about Alice (I can name one right off the top of my head, Resident Evil and I refer to the movie here, while not using the element of dreamscape, still has an Alice inspired element to it).
Straight away I found myself warming to Random Magic starting with the fact that it doesn’t use a dreamscape (such as Carroll did) to enter a world of magic and the unbelievable. There’s only so many dreamscapes or dreamworlds you should read in a lifetime, at least in my opinion, so you don’t get bored of them. Random Magic is also full of humour, warmth, curiosity, as well as being quite a playful story. At once it’s a fantasy world filled with magic, whilst other times it is also a light satirical of fairy tales, legends, and magic itself.
Random Magic looked totally and completely cute. And it was, it was a whimsical, light read that kept you wanting to read more the entire time. Though, it was a lot more in-depth and complex than I would have thought it to be. It is certainly a different breed of book.
Winnie and Henry are great characters, Winnie especially. She is quirky and funny, and keeps you wanting to read, even when you are thinking about setting the book down. Henry, though he starts off timid and shy, blossoms as a character and really moves the story along as well.
Sasha Soren certainly has a unique writing style. She is able to spin the tale on its head all the time, while using description that makes you feel as though you are in the same world as Winnie and Henry, throughout the entire experience. The writing quirky and whimsical, yet it is confusing at times, however, and uses a lot of diction and terminology I am not familiar with.
Though it starts out really confusing and strange, Random Magic quickly starts to become a fun read that keeps you engaged the entire time. I admit, there were times I had no idea what was going on, but the characters and vivid world kept me engaged and reading with speed and ease. Once you get past the first bit, it should be a breeze finishing off the rest of the book.
After reading Random Magic, I am sad that there isn’t more to enjoy. I thoroughly enjoyed being entranced by Winnie, Henry, and their fantastical world. I’m looking forward to whatever else Soren comes up with, as I’m sure it will be an enchanting tale, as Random Magic certainly was.
I feel that I have to make a note of the fact that I was smiling before I opened the book, and laughing before I started the first chapter. The author's zany wrapping techniques had me smiling and the whimsical "Advance praise for Random Magic by raving loonies" had me laughing. The package containing this book arrived wrapped in blue paper with an excess of tape. Once I got past the tape (I had to have help), there were layers of tissue paper, a rubber duck, two teabags and a piece of chocolate. With this promising beginning, I started Random Magic.
I love the way Sasha Soren plays with words the way some people play with string, weaving and tangling them together into fabrics of impossible colors and knots too complicated to untie. I read each chapter slowly, savoring each and every sentence.
Winnie and Henry are fun and interesting characters. Winnie is snarky, spunky and smart, whereas Henry is dreamy, curious and confused. Their friendship forms the most important aspect of the story, and it is lovely.
The plot of Random Magic is crazy, strange and rarely makes sense. It is also ridiculous, wild and wonderful. This book takes you on a ride through history, myth and make-believe that will spin you in circles until you are dizzy and delighted. I loved the many references to famous literary and historical figures as well as mythical characters and creatures. I think I caught most of them, but it will take more than one read-through to make sure. :)
I would recommend this book to lovers of fun, pure silliness and the English language. Happy Reading!
*I received this book as a gift from the author to review for a blog/YouTube book review tour.*
I must admit, I thought the ending was fairly cute, and there was one small section in the second half I want to frame and put on my wall so I can admire it forever and always. But the rest was a lot of adventures and fairytale/mythology/historical figure references and *random* happenings without reason to them. The plot advanced very little, because the plot did not have far to go. So I felt like a lot of the individual stories were just filler, and didn't really contribute to the book as a whole. Also, I think there was so much dialogue attempting to be witty (and some of it was) that the characters almost seemed to get lost among it all. There wasn't any great display of change. Winnie was Winnie. Henry was Henry. And it wasn't until that beautiful little section in the second half that Henry actually grew. I liked the characters all right, but I don't think we got to know enough about them. Overall, I think there were just too many distractions in the randomness of events. Even in something like Alice in Wonderland itself, there was a more logical flow of adventures, and each individual adventure was easy to follow and not overly construed. I think this particular story as a whole could have been much better than it was, and it would've been had there been a lot less randomness and more beautiful *purposeful* moments of growth and change. Like I said, I liked the characters but I don't feel like we really got to know them. Most of the side characters were present for so little time they hardly seemed to have even been worth mentioning.
Random Magic, stays true to it's title, it's truly random yet magical at the same time. It's based on the character Alice, which we all know from Alice and Wonderland. Henry Witherspoon misplaces Alice, and starts to frantically look for her. He then meets Winnie which would go to the end of the world to find her. The beginning of the book started out a little slow but eventually picked up when Winnie and Henry start a search party for Alice. They went through a crazy journey trying to find her. The world that Sasha created was amazing and totally entertaining. Her writing style is very descriptive and quirky. Usually this type of book isn't my cup of tea but it was very interesting. I enjoyed seeing Alice in a different light instead of the story that we are all used to. It was definitely a fun filled adventure, but at times was very hard to comprehend, I had difficulty with the language. Their were a lot of British type terms...too bad my blog buddies from the UK aren't here to help me out :) However, overall, a cute read, this book would be quite intriguing if it was turned into a movie directed by Tim Burton...maybe a sequel to the actual Alice in Wonderland he's coming out with? Hmmm....just some food for thought! Oh and the cover is very artistic and just like I told Sasha, she definitely resembles Nicole Kidman, don't ya think?
Random Magic is just that: Randomagical – and definitely for the whimsiest of minds! At first I hesitated to continue reading as Chapter 1 seemed like a whole lot of randomness that I was entirely unprepared for – but by the time Henry and Winnie meet in Chapter 3, I settle in quite nicely into this bizarre world that somehow makes sense in its nonsense. I always enjoy a good play on words and ideas – and Random Magic definitely has a party with them! There is quite the colorful cast of epic proportions – and I’m fairly certain that everyone can find one or two or all characters to love!
I definitely loved Garden of Nine Muses where we get to meet the Muses who are rather ridiculous, but adorably so if you are a die-hard fan of the Muses (which I am). The random story about naming mix-up between Erato and Errata was awesome - it makes me giggle each time I stop and think about it!
If you love MirrorMask or appreciate the beauty in random, then Random Magic may be the right book to whisk you away to a world that makes the Mad Hatter look average!
Professor Random has somehow lost the main character from Alice in Wonderland and sends Henry to find her. Henry meets Winnie, a doodle witch, who leads them a series of crazy misadventures in search of Alice.
I believe the word I'm looking for is random, very, very random. Because that is what a lot of this book is, RANDOM. At first, I wasn't sure because it seemed so all over the place, but after I got into the groove and understood where the author was going, I liked it. I liked Winnie the Doodle Witch. She is the coolest and made the book great.
The search for Alice really does lead them through some crazy places and they meet a lot of literary characters and there are a lot of little allusions and tributes to great authors and books throughout. So that makes it really fun. Honestly, there could have been a little less, but overall I enjoyed this book.
Great writing but just an okay story. That's my lasting impression. I think I set my expectations too high before reading it and maybe that's why I feel this way. First, like pulling off a bandage, I'll tell you what I didn't like. I wasn't crazy about the story. It had great characters, and a variety like you wouldn't believe, but even with a set plot, I felt like it didn't always go somewhere. I often wondered why this was going that way and sometimes felt lost. As lost as Alice. But then, because of the magic of the characters used, and the fact I was doing a visual read-a-long on Pinterest, even what I didn't get came alive in my mind. So that brings me to a real dilemma. I love the writing, so very Lewis Carroll-ish, and the characters are awesome too, and the magic of it all really was an adventure, but the story..... which makes no sense but yet all the sense to me. Oh, dear! All I can say is get your copy, your rubber duck, magic feather, and buckle up for a ride!
I have been looking for a full copy of this since Sasha contacted me about it many years ago. I read the first chapter and knew that it would make an excellent novel. Now that I know where to get a copy, I will have to see about getting one. Does anyone know if an audio version was ultimately made?