Review: “Captured by Magic,” Linsey Hall

Pros: Fantastic action
Cons: A few missteps
Rating: 4 out of 5

In book one of The Druid, Ana and Lachlan hunted down a massively dangerous stolen spell and rescued a kidnapped friend. In book two, they recovered Dracha’s stolen magic from three ghostly Fates. In book three, they had to simultaneously locate a charm that would help to balance Ana’s growing powers while saving the Celtic Otherworld from an invasion by the Fates and an army of demons. Now, in Captured by Magic (Dragon’s Gift: The Druid Book 4), most of the members of the Undercover Protectorate have been kidnapped! It’s up to a handful of leftover people, plus the FireSouls, to track down what’s happened to them and retrieve them. While following a lead, the Dragon Gods find themselves back in Death Valley, once again making the run to Hider’s Haven–only the lay of the land has changed!

There are a few little missteps, IMO. The women take out several people with sleeper holds that are casually described as lasting an hour (I didn’t know these things came with a built-in timer). Rowan, who has no access to her magic, uses a bow and arrows for distance fighting–I still don’t understand why guns never even get discussed as a possibility. There’s also a quote that goes:

Heck, I was a woman. I was predisposed to carry guilt like a sad knapsack full of misery.

This may not seem like a big deal, but through 20+ novels one of the greatest things about this series has been Hall’s ability to not just avoid female stereotypes, but to blow by them like they don’t even exist, without even mentioning them. So to have an “all women” dropped in there out of nowhere gave me a feeling like the screeching of cartoon brakes. It was completely out-of-place.

These books are rather formulaic, and one of the formulas is that each book encompasses one task, which is predictably nailed down in full by the end. This installment partially breaks that formula by having aspects to it that don’t entirely get finished with, which is a wonderful bit of variety.

I love, once again, the respect that each love interest shows to each main female character. In this installment Ana and Lachlan find themselves finally sharing a bed for the night, but it’s mentioned that the behind-closed-doors activity never went all the way. Casually implied is the fact that Lachlan is fine with this–he doesn’t in any way push Ana to go past what she’s comfortable with. It’s never implied that because she’s fooling around with him she should be prepared to go any further than she’s okay with, and it’s about time we normalized this sort of behavior. Serious kudos to Hall for writing this stuff as normal.

As usual, Hall’s greatest talent seems to be her penchant for original, extensive, exciting action sequences. There are rabid fauns, stone beasts, Roman armies, fire-hurling giants, armies of snakes, and more standing in our heroes’ way. No matter how powerful our heroes become, the enemy makes them fight every bit as hard to succeed.

I’m looking forward to reading the final installment in Ana’s sub-series!

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