The Magi

The Magi - Kevin M. Turner Rating Clarification: 2.5 stars

The Magi by Kevin M. Turner is the first book in a potential 5-book series. It is currently only available as an e-book but the price is pretty awesome. I mean honestly, how can you pass up a $3.99 book? Especially an incredibly high rated book about a magical quest. This book started out very (very) strongly for me By chapter 3, I was already loving the story much more than I expected and I flew through the first half of this book. Sadly, the story kind of lost it's steam for me at around the halfway point and I started getting frustrated with how the story was going. This stuck with me till around the last few chapters. While it didn't end as strongly as it began, I felt it did a good job of tying up some loose ends, introducing some promising new elements and just enough suspense to keep me curious about the next part of the story.

Like I mentioned this books starts with a bang. Our protagonist, Elijah, is a 13 year old boy newly made aware of a secret magical community that exists unknown to the rest of the world; a community to which he is a member of: The Magi. Their magical powers lie in the control and manipulation of the elements. Instantly, I thought: like Harry Potter meets Avatar: The Last Airbender. And considering those are my 2 absolute favorite stories of all time, the comparison wasn't made lightly and I delighted in it! From the word go, this story had me enticed. While I saw similarities with other stories of this genre, they were easily overlooked by everything new Kevin M. Turner was bringing to the table. Elijah is a likeable and quite intelligent protagonist. I was a fan of how he was able to put things together: he's believable and admirable. The world-building was full of promise and potential; it felt excited and impressed. The universe of the Magi and their enemies the Malaphists felt refreshing, and the plot itself was heavy on intrigue and mystery. Themes I desperately look for in magical quest stories. And while the idea of controlling the elements has been done, I've always been a fan of this concept AND it was so well meshed with the mythology of this world that it just worked for me, you know? On top of this, the story just read effortlessly. Obviously aimed at a very young audience (much more so in my opinion than Harry Potter or Avatar: The Last Airbender, despite Elijah being 13 to Harry's 11 and Aang's 12), the vocabulary is kept simple yet clever, the descriptions are made effectively with minimal time wasted and they were still enough to paint vivid pictures before my eyes as I read them.

So what happened? Well as I previously stated, just past the halfway point I started having some issues with the way the story was developing. Once Elijah starts his training with other young Magis some parts began to feel a bit rough to me...even underdeveloped. Like the dialogue between Elijah and his friends. It felt formal to me, and I couldn't really picture 13 year-olds talking to one another like that. And it affected my ability to connect with them all as characters. (Elijah's inner mental dialogue was comparatively engrossing and well-done, so it's clear the author has the skill to pull this off.) The pacing started to feel way-off around this point as well. Things were moving along too quickly in relation to what had been developed before. As the story moved along, I felt that every new plot twist or 'idea' had potential, but lacked detail and depth. I wanted more words, more descriptions, more feelings...just plain more. You didn't get to fully appreciate everything that's going on it just moved so fast. These things had the effect of drawing me out of the story; my attention would lessen and I'd stop reading. And then I began to notice other things that bothered me, probably due to my mind being distracted...things that hadn't bother me at first, but because my mind tended to wander, I'd notice how many similarities there were between all magical quest stories that came into being Post-Potter. It seems like there's almost a go-to recipe for writing these kinds of stories, and while I'll always love the genre, I felt let down that so many themes were again being recycled. Especially considering how amazing this book started out! It did pick up again near the ending there, and while it didn't match the the first half in terms of enchantment and mystique, it did reintroduce many of the themes I had fallen in love with during the beginning of this book; like the inherent mystery of this world and Elijah's past and powers, the intriguing magical artifacts and the locked diary.

I still feel this was a promising start to a potentially great series. The first half of the book is proof of that. And considering it was written by a teacher to give his students something fun to read, it's truly is an impressive piece of work. I'm definitely curious enough to read the next installment and as it is I hope it'll build on what was already brilliant in this story, instead of focusing on the negative. I almost gave this 3 stars, but honestly the second half of this book really affected my overall impression of this book so I'll give it a 2.5 stars. It was better than o.k., I liked it, but not compared to other books I've giver 3-stars to recently. It just didn't hold up. I think young kids reading this with their parents would thoroughly enjoy reading this story together. Die-hard fans of ya fantasy quests should check it out as well, regardless of what it is lacking it's still worth the read.