3 star review

Review-Magic City: Recent Spells

Magic City Recent Spells

I received an ARC of this book from the Publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

This is a collection of previously published short stories, so really the only new information is Paula Guran’s introduction and the way they are indexed. Each story is prefaced with the city and the type of magic it has.

It’s a little hard to decide just how to rate a collection like this, especially when none of the material is newly published. However, considering how eclectic it is, it’s likely only the most rabid of anthology collectors will have read every single story. I’m a bit rabid about anthologies myself, and have probably only read a third of the ones in this collection. It is also has a greater percentage of what I would consider sad stories in it. So, averaging it all out, this collection rates a solid 3 stars, but if you are thinking about picking it up just because it has one of your favorite authors in it, take a closer look and determine if it is a short story you already have in your collection.

Street Wizard by Simon R. Green

2 stars

No real substance or plot, just a night in the life of a street wizard, the magical equivalent of a traffic cop.

Paranormal Romance by Christopher Barzak

3 stars

A witch who specializes in love is set up on blind date by her interfering mother. Short sweet story with a surprise ending.

Grand Central Park by Delia Sherman

3 stars

I’m not quite sure how to describe this story, so I’ll just say it didn’t initially capture my attention, but the ending makes it worth the reading.

Spell Caster 2.0 by Jonathan Maberry

1 star

This one isn’t new to me, I didn’t care for it the first time I read it, and a re-read didn’t improve my opinion. It’s too…moralistic.

Wallamelon by Nisi Shawl

3 stars

This is a lovely, magical story of the costs of growing up and being different.

-30- by Caitlin R. Kiernan

DNF– Didn’t hook me and the writing style felt awkward.

Seeing Eye by Patricia Briggs

5 stars

I’ve probably read this story 100 times and it seems like I enjoy it more with each reading. It’s so complete. The characters are fully fleshed and the story itself doesn’t take short cuts. It also doesn’t hurt that these are integral characters of a large series, so you get to continue their story through other character’s eyes.

Stone Man by Nancy Kress

4 stars

Despite the fact that this story is sort of depressing, the world and the characters are well crafted and compelling.

In the Stacks by Scott Lynch

4 stars


“The inherent magic of all undergraduates-the magic of the last minute. The power to embrace any skein, no matter how insane or desperate.”

During grad school it often felt as though the library was out to get me. This just took it to it’s logical, magical conclusion. And it’s chock full of quotes that will resonate with anyone who has spent too much time in an academic library.

A Voice Like a Hole by Catherynne M. Valente

3 stars

One of the oddest shorts I’ve read.

The Arcane Art of Misdirection by Carrie Vaughn

2 stars

This is another re-read, it’s not bad, but some of the oomph is lost in the repeat.

The Thief of Precious Things by A.C. Wise

3 stars

A strange and fascinating peek at a post-apocalyptic dystopian world full of shifters, magic and defunct technology.

The Land of Heart’s Desire by Holly Black

3 stars

A story dealing with the fear that love is ephemeral and how a person (or fairy) deals with it.

Snake Charmer by Amanda Downum

4 stars

Another sad story, this time about revenge and dragons, and maybe getting not what you want, but what you need.

The Slaughtered Lamb by Elizabeth Bear

3 stars

A werewolf drag queen finally finds acceptance.

The Woman Who Walked with Dogs by Mary Rosenblum

2 stars

Nighttime is a strange and magical place for the imaginative mind of a child.

Words by Angela Slatter

2 stars

Wordsmith witch annoys neighborhood parents, who try to annoy her back.

Dog Boys by Charles de Lint

3 stars

New kid in school story with a twist. Kind of cute and sweet.

Alchemy by Lucy Sussex

3 stars

Set in ancient Babylon, this story takes a look at how a person must determine the costs of knowledge.

Curses by Jim Butcher

2 stars

The Harry Dresden series just doesn’t lend itself well to shirt stories in my opinion.

De La Tierra by Emma Bull

3 stars

An enhanced mortal hitman learns a lesson. Honestly, I’d like to see more about how this world plays out. The concept is intriguing.

Stray Magic by Diana Peterfreund

3 stars

Sweet, heartwarming story about a very special dog and a very unique volunteer.

Kabu Kabu by Nnedi Okorafor

2 stars

An Igbo, Nigerian, American lawyer takes a hell of a can ride to get to her sister’s wedding 

Pearlywhite by Marc Laidlaw & John Shirely

3 stars

Another sad story about homeless kids. Well written and imaginative, it’s worth the read as long as you aren’t looking for happily ever after.

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