Monday, March 6, 2017

Magic For Nothing: By Seanan McGuire



Improbable, adjective:
1. Not very likely to happen; not probable.
2. Probably not a very good idea anyway.
3. See also “bad plan.”

As the youngest of the three Price children, Antimony is used to people not expecting much from her. She’s been happy playing roller derby and hanging out with her cousins, leaving the globe-trotting to her older siblings while she stays at home and tries to decide what she wants to do with her life. She always knew that one day, things would have to change. She didn’t think they’d change so fast.

Annie’s expectations keep getting shattered. She didn’t expect Verity to declare war on the Covenant of St. George on live television. She didn’t expect the Covenant to take her sister’s threat seriously. And she definitely didn’t expect to be packed off to London to infiltrate the Covenant from the inside…but as the only Price in her generation without a strong resemblance to the rest of the family, she’s the perfect choice to play spy. They need to know what’s coming. Their lives may depend on it.

But Annie has some secrets of her own, like the fact that she’s started setting things on fire when she touches them, and has no idea how to control it. Now she’s headed halfway around the world, into the den of the enemy, where blowing her cover could get her killed. She’s pretty sure things can’t get much worse.

Antimony Price is about to learn just how wrong it’s possible for one cryptozoologist to be.


I've been a fan of Seanan McGuire for a few years now (which in terms of McGuire’s book production equals about 300,000 books and short stories published (the absolutely amazing thing is that this is not nearly the staggering hyperbole that it appears to be when compared to reality).

Of McGuire’s books, I have a special place in my heart for her InCryptid series, as it was the first series that got me hooked on her writhing, but I've always been a little disappointed in their somewhat one off/duology nature of each of the books in the series. Yes, the books are connected and they mention some of the events from previous books, but for the most part the newer books in the series don't feel the effects of the previous books in the series until the protagonist switches back to the one in which the events occurred (meaning Alex feels the effects of his books, and Verity hers). There are of course benefits to this. First, it makes it significantly easier for new readers to jump into a series, thus allowing for a larger readership. Second, this offers easy outlets for McGuire to experiment and jump between narrators with little downside. The con however is that if this type of writing is done to often then readers can become somewhat bored, feeling that they know the formula of the writing and events, making the stories somewhat dull and predictable. That is not to say that the stories themselves are dull or that writers cannot draw from a formula to entice readers, this just points out that if done too often, the lack of consequences can cause readers to possibly become bored. (Please note that McGuire’s books are not boring, nor have they reached the repetitious point described above, this was only mentioned to emphasize the importance that McGuire’s switch to a ramification based series has on the series.)

That's why I was utterly shocked that the Magic For Nothing begins in the final moments of the previous book in the series Chaos Choreography, except from Antimony's point of view. For those that have not read Chaos Choreography, please be aware that the following section will contain spoilers.

Not only does Magic For Nothing take up in the final moments of Chaos Choreography, but because of Verity’s shocking declaration of war against the Covenant, Magic For Nothing’s entire premise is based on the effects of Verity’s actions. This includes forcing Antimony’s primary action in her attempts to infiltrate the Covenant, as well as her family’s resentment towards Verity for her selfish actions in dancing on TV and declaring war on the Covenant. This is the first time that we’ve seen such a divide/resentment in the actions of the different Price family members, and as a reader of the series it is absolutely fascinating. Not only that, but these actions bring up many feelings of resentment that have been there under the surface, making the emotional turmoil much more realistic for a close-knit family who all are forced into the family business in one way or another.

As for the book itself, other than a surprising lack of explosives (this being Antimony’s book and all), Magic For Nothing was positively ripe with action and intense sequences as Antimony infiltrates not one but two different organizations (the Covenant and the Carnival). Of course, McGuire also does a fantastic job, using the Carnival and Antimony’s surprising connection to her long-lost cousin to more fully explore Antimony’s feelings of resentment, duty, and loneliness in relation to her family and their dynamic. This is absolutely fascinating, as Verity mostly thought of herself and her dancing, trying to get out of the family business, Alex mostly cared about his research, with an almost accidental romance on the side, yet it is Antimony, the youngest and most disconnected to the family, having been teamed up against by her siblings while growing up, who seems to be the most loyal to a family and who takes on the greatest risks.

These emotional and physical ramifications propel the series forward in a way that has me positively shaking in my boots with excited energy for more.

All in all, I was a big fan of Magic For Nothing. It had action, great character development, insight into other characters in the series, and even ended with one heck of a cliff hanger that will leave readers (or at the very least THIS reader) positively begging for the next book in the series.


Published: March 7, 2017

Publisher: DAW

Price: $7.99

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