Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Influential Magic by Deanna Chase - Book Review

It’s tough being a faery in New Orleans, a city fraught with vampires… especially when their very existence drains your life-force.Willow Rhoswen, owner of The Fated Cupcake and part-time vampire hunter for the Void is having a rough week. Four years after her twin brother’s mysterious death, Willow’s life is threatened and the director saddles her with a new partner—her ex-boyfriend, David. To her horror, he’s turned vamp, which causes her physical pain whenever she touches him… and any other specimen of the undead.

In order to save Willow’s life, David agrees to turn double agent against the most powerful vampire organization in New Orleans. Or so he says. And she’s convinced they know something about her brother’s death. Unsure where David’s loyalties lie, she turns to Talisen, her childhood crush, to help her solve the mystery.

Caught between two gorgeous men and a director who’ll stop at nothing to control Willow’s gifts, she’ll have to follow her instincts and learn who to trust. Otherwise, she risks losing more than just her life
Influential Magic is one of those books I got on a NetGalley binge, when anything with a pretty cover and half-interesting synopsis got requested.  All I could think was, “Omg FREE??? Want want want want I WANT THEM ALL!!!!”  Once the haze of free books parted, however, I was left with over a dozen books on my Nook that I probably wouldn’t have been too interested in under normal circumstances, and an obligation to read them all in order to keep my Good Reviewer card.  So going into Influential Magic, I was expecting a book I would regret requesting and slog through just to churn that review out of it.

In that regard, I was pleasantly surprised.  I enjoyed this book.  But on the “Best-Case Scenario” side of things, this wasn’t a gem hidden in the rough, waiting for me to scoop it up, dust it off, and reveal its shining beauty.  It was entertaining and I’m glad I got to read it, but it did have some major flaws, which I’ll get into in a bit.

Indie books have a stigma attached to them of not being written as well as major-label books.  I hope to  bust this myth, but it doesn’t help that a lot of indie books really do fit it.  So when I read the first pages of Influential Magic and found high-quality writing that could compete with the Big Dogs in urban fantasy, I was pleasantly surprised.  There are some really neat things in these pages, most especially a shih-tzu werewolf.  A little yipping dog that turns into a hulking, killer wolf is such a cool, original spin on the werewolf idea that I couldn’t help but love Link and call him my favorite character.  The witch Phoebe, Willow’s roommate and partner, is great, also.  She wears her Kickass Heroin badge with pride, honor, and a bit of snark.  Without a doubt, she’s my favorite human (humanoid?) character.

Probably because the others just aren’t developed enough.

Willow, our MC, is a fairy who fate has conspired against by making her work with her newly-turned vampire ex-boyfriend.  Aside from the basic prejudice life-loving faeries have for the undead, Willow also has a rather unfortunate reaction to vampires.  Even the most gentle of their touches hurts and causes bruises.  Doesn’t bode well for a Willow/David reunion.  But thankfully, we have Talisen, Willow’s dead brother’s childhood best friend!  Tal is gorgeous, of course, and there’s sizzling physical chemistry between him and Willow, of course.  He’s the third ingredient to yet another uninspired, total cliché of a love-triangle.

None of these characters really felt fleshed out.  While reading, I kept getting the feeling that they were just tools with which to tell the story.  Obviously, that’s what characters are, right?  Not necessarily.  The best author knows to let the characters drive the story, not the other way around, which gives us a much more well-rounded, seamless reading experience.

Almost as glaring as the lack of character depth was the lack of backstory.  We are given only the most basic of descriptions as to the history of faeries and vampires, and it is nowhere near enough.  I spent most of the novel unsure if the non-human races were open and known to humans or not.  The faerie  and vampire organizations weren’t fleshed out very well, either.

All of this adds up to a novel with page-turning ability, one that keeps your interest and keeps you entertained, but ultimately isn’t as satisfying as it would have been with more detail.  If I still remember the plot by the time the next Crescent City Fey novel comes out, I’ll read it.  But as of now, my impression is that it’ll be an ultimately forgettable novel that won’t call me back for the sequel.  I’d recommend it to those readers looking for an indie book that is actually good, but would advise more picky readers to consider skipping this one.

Influential Magic - 3 out of 5 stars


  1. It lost me at "The Fated Cupcake." Plus Urban Fantasy doesn't seem to be my thing, from the little I've read. Probably because the classic horror creatures hold no appeal to me, and I like my Fantasy out of this world, literally.

    This does remind me that I have a storyboard to watch on Urban Fantasy... So thanks for that.

    Cain Freeman @ No BS Books

    1. I like a really good urban fantasy. But those are the key words; "really good". Soooo many are just retellings of the others. But it's worth it to power through the bad ones to get to the good ones.

  2. I'm a supporter of Indie books too, always hoping to find hidden gems. Don't think this is one I'll be trying though. I need good characters otherwise I'll get bored and give up.

    1. Yeah, I'm the same. It wasn't bad, but you won't really be missing anything by skipping this one.


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