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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

Fifteen-year-old Frank Sampson has a hard time following the rules. He's smart-mouthed and not so good with people. He also happens to be a highly gifted forensic sorcerer. So when the Bishop of Oxford is beheaded, Frank is called in to help solve the case. The mystery of the bishop's murder becomes even more complicated when Frank's magic shows him the missing head doesn't actually belong to the headless corpse. To crack the case, he'll need to use unorthodox methods, no matter the consequences.…

A Dangerous Magic

by Donald Hounam

Overall Book Review:

A Dangerous Magic is part magical fantasy complete with wands, spells and demons and part mystery.  

The story line itself seems pretty simple.  A young sorcerer is working with the police in order to help solve crimes.  He is called in to assist on a case where a body has been found with the head removed.  Through a series of discoveries and outtakes, Frank discovers who the true killer is and just how the crime occurred.  Marvo, his keen-sighted partner on the police force, attempts to keep him in check throughout while simultaneously developing a crush on him.

What is not simple is the magic and settings.  I found myself pretty lost in terms of setting throughout the book.  Places are commonly referred to by different names and it took quite a lot for me to follow.  For example, roughly halfway through the book the term termite nest pops up and it took a number of chapters before I realized that this was a term being used to describe Frank’s monastic home.

The story is told, sort of, from the perspective of Frank.  At times, however, the narrative changes to be from the perspective of a third party.  When the perspective is shifted back to Frank’s, it gets a little choppy.  The magical properties and spells are also hard to follow.  There are a lot of difficult words and while a glossary is provided at the back of the book, using simpler terms would have made it much easier reading for a slightly younger audience.

An average read, but for die-hard magic and fantasy fans, this one probably isn’t one to put at the top of your reading list.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Carolrhoda Lab

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  19 religious exclamations; 77 mild obscenities; 4 derogatory names; 24 scatological terms.

Violence/Gore:  Sorcerer cuts up dead cat for parts; steals eyeball from corpse; girl bangs elbow with bloody injury; corpse sitting in chair without head; 3 references to men being beheaded or burnt at stake; severed pigs heads on shelves; sorcerer cuts off dove’s head; report of being bullied and ties to a tree; report of setting theater on fire; reporting of accidentally setting father on fire resulting in death, playful punches to arm; various bumps, bruises and cuts; report of boy being killed by being run over; 2-2 page autopsy scenes with dissection of bodies and organs; fist fight; report of man purposefully shoving hands into machinery; man pined against wall by another; magical case snaps closed injuring woman’s hand; fleeing man shot by police (unknown if dead or alive); self-mutilation with a knife; bloody nose; door made to explode; dead dogs hanging from pole; 2 page brawl with bloody broken leg and stab wounds; woman’s stabbed corpse found; priest found dead with slit wrists; magical door bites girl; curtains magically try to strangle character; 2-page recap of stabbing and murder; hallucination of baby burning in a fire; snakes falling from ceiling; 4-page scene where demon slices through air with ax leaving bloody streaks of flesh and dripping blood in air.

Sex/Nudity:  Multiple scenes of naked corpses; man lift shirt to show off his tattoo; reference to adults sleeping together; 2 kisses.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death, suicide, gambling, abandonment, murder.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults smoke and drink beer.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I am a full-time mom, full-time wife, and overtime reader. I have been an avid reader for as long as anyone can remember. It must run in the family because both my mother and grandmother are also voracious readers and often pass books back and forth. Almost any genre can spark my interest, but I often go in streaks, reading a bunch of books from one genre, then switching to another for a while and back again.