Pros: Great travails and action; adorable new sidekicks
Cons: So, so formulaic
Rating: 4 out of 5
Gods of Magic (Dragon’s Gift: The Amazon Book 1) is book 26 of the Dragon’s Gift series as a whole–a series which is divided up into five-book increments, each of which centers upon a particular young woman as main character. When I bemoan how formulaic the series is, I mean that each five-book series is constructed almost identically, and each book within each series is also constructed similarly. For instance, all six young women have had matching love interests show up at the beginning of book one of their sub-series: a bulked man who is physically and magically super-powerful, similar in temperament, devastatingly handsome, and wealthy beyond imagining. In the last three sub-series, each sister (Bree, Ana, Rowan) has their own three-critter band of sidekicks (the Pugs of Destruction, the Cats of Chaos, and the Menacing Menagerie). Each main character has a Favorite Food and a Favorite Drink, as though the author filled out character questionnaires for each main character and then felt the need to include the same details from each. Each one taken separately is wonderful–Linsey Hall executes these things quite well. The various critter sidekicks have a ton of personality and they’re wonderful to have on hand. But it’s still frustrating to be able to predict nearly everything that’s going to happen in these books. And it does harm the willing suspension of disbelief, even in a series so fantastical that there’s already a lot of disbelief being suspended. However, it is that wonderful execution that makes these books worth reading. Especially since in many ways it’s a sort of comfort-read series, and when you want a comfort read you often want to know what you’re getting into. It’s up to you to decide how this dichotomy affects your likelihood of enjoying these books.
Back to the installment at hand! It’s Rowan’s turn to come into her own as a Dragon God. In an unusual turn of events, Rowan’s journey is looking to be a little bit different than that of her sisters. Due to her time being captured and coerced by the Rebel Gods, she still has dark magic inside of her, and it’s starting to burst free. At the same time, mysterious notes are leading her to play magical vigilante in order to stop crimes from happening. She ends up foiling a murder by a handful of demons and a mysterious monster, only to find out that the monster is linked to the darkness inside of her and she has to stop it from feeding again. This will require her and her new partner and love interest, Maximus Valerius, to track down the monster and the ingredients for a special potion.
I enjoyed this installment. Rowan is an interesting character, as is Maximus. The book continues its predecessors’ tradition of depicting strong female characters with respectful love interests, and I do appreciate that. The Menacing Menagerie–Romeo the raccoon, Poppy the possum, and Eloise the badger–are delightfully adorable as Rowan’s new sidekicks, even though I prefer the Cats of Chaos. Rowan and Maximus end up having to infiltrate a magical research corporation in order to get an ingredient for the potion, which makes for some excellent stealth and escape sequences. Also, since Rowan doesn’t have access to her own magic she’s becoming quite the potions expert, which is a nice detail and allows for some extra variety in their approaches to their trials and tribulations. I was a bit disappointed by the quick explanation for the mysterious notes Rowan’s been getting; it hand-waves the question of how the sender knew these things were going to happen.
This book is an odd mix of the super predictable if you’ve read the rest of the series (overall structure), and the somewhat new and unusual (how Rowan’s magic is working, and the magical research company). Definitely worth it if you’ve been enjoying the series so far.