A guest review by Jenre
Summary review: Jackson and Adin are back in this engaging paranormal story with the delightful addition of Carny, the wannabe wizard apprentice.
Carny Jessup here. The best part of my life began when my aunt’s homophobic squeeze smashed his fist into my face. I already knew a wizard named Jackson Spey lived on my side of town, so I figured I’d turn things around by becoming his apprentice.
Problem was, Spey didn’t want an apprentice. He was going through a midlife crisis. All he wanted was to build beautiful furniture and get cozy with his beautiful husband, Adin. He still took me in, though. Guess he felt sorry for me. And he was intrigued by the red paths I’d been seeing in the air.
I’m only 19, so how could I have foreseen the rest? That I’d fall for a breathtaking boy named Peter, who was at the center of some strange magic tied to Jackson’s past. And that I’d have to deal with a sorcerer named Bezod, an evil pig who plagued all four of us and threatened to destroy our relationships.
Hey, sometimes you just have to fight for what’s right. Like love. I might’ve been new to the boyfriend gig and Jackson might’ve been a reluctant wizard, but when the time came, we were ready to kick some supernatural ass.
This is a real treat for me. A book featuring Adin and Jackson, one of my favourite m/m couples. I was so excited to read this that I could barely contain myself. In the end I did enjoy the book a great deal but was slightly underwhelmed by the romance between Carny and Peter.
The book begins with our first person narrator, nineteen year old Carny. He’s decided to leave his abusive home and apprentice himself to a wizard, none other than Jackson Spey, star of many K.Z. Snow books. Jackson isn’t so happy to see Carny, but is intrigued by the ‘red paths’ that Carny has been seeing leading to Jackson’s house. When Carny meets the ethereally beautiful Peter and starts to form a relationship, he’s baffled by Peter’s odd mood swings, something else which intrigues and worries Jackson.
The book is structured in three parts. The opening and closing parts are all from Carny’s first person POV. I liked Carny a great deal. He’s a spunky, punky guy with a slight sarcastic streak and a habit of speaking his mind without thinking – which led to a few funny moments in the book. He’s also full of that fascinating mix of bravado and insecurity which comes from being nineteen. His emotions are sometimes all over the place which fit well with his age, and yet this is tempered by a growing self awareness of himself as a young man which manifests itself as a chiding inner voice telling himself to man up and be more mature. There was never a dull moment with Carny and I enjoyed being in his head and watching him muddle his way through the situations in the book.
The middle section takes the alternating third person POVs of Adin and Jackson. This worked for me because I felt that it was necessary to see the struggles that the pair are facing as their relationship is put under strain. It’s also important because some of the ‘detecting’ in the book, as they try to discover the whereabouts of the sorcerer, comes from Jackson and Adin and that aspect would have been lost to the reader if we only had Carny’s point of view. It reminded me again how much I love Jackson and Adin as a couple. However, the middle section of the book is where the romance between Carny and Peter is solidified and so we miss out a little on that development. Their romance moves quickly and because of the forces which are affecting Peter it’s not always clear how he feels about Carny – and there’s a vagueness about Peter which fits with the story but didn’t allow me to see exactly what attracted Carny to him, other than stunning good looks. This meant that the love that Carny professes to have for Peter wasn’t wholly convincing to me because I felt that most of it was fueled by lust and the extreme emotions of a teenager and I wished there had been more after the denouement showing them together.
One final niggle is whether this book is accessible to those who have not read any of the previous books. I think maybe just, given that most of the book is seen through Carny’s eyes. However, there’s a lot of back story between Jackson and Adin that a newbie to the series will not understand and this could potentially be frustrating. Being a Jackson/Adin devotee meant that I got maximum enjoyment out of seeing them together and knowing how the history between them has shaped the couple they are in this book. Those who are curious to know where to begin, I suggest Obsessed (review here) as that is where they first come together as a couple.
This author is an autobuy for me, and all the things I love about her writing are here in this book. The blend of humour and drama; the ability to capture an emotional moment; the gripping action scenes; all combined to provide a story which I found very enjoyable and I would recommend Carny’s Magic definitely to those who have followed the Jackson/Adin stories, but also to those looking for an entertaining paranormal book.