Note: Penguin Random House sent me this e-book via First to Read for free in exchange for my honest review.
What became of magic in the world? Who needed to do away with it, and for what reasons? Drawing on myth, legend, fairy tales, and Biblical mysteries, The Last Days of Magic brilliantly imagines answers to these questions, sweeping us back to a world where humans and magical beings co-exist as they had for centuries.
Aisling, a goddess in human form, was born to rule both domains and—with her twin, Anya—unite the Celts with the powerful faeries of the Middle Kingdom. But within medieval Ireland interests are divided, and far from its shores greater forces are mustering. Both England and Rome have a stake in driving magic from the Emerald Isle. Jordan, the Vatican commander tasked with vanquishing the remnants of otherworldly creatures from a disenchanted Europe, has built a career on such plots. But increasingly he finds himself torn between duty and his desire to understand the magic that has been forbidden.
As kings prepare, exorcists gather, and divisions widen between the warring clans of Ireland, Aisling and Jordan must come to terms with powers given and withheld, while a world that can still foster magic hangs in the balance. Loyalties are tested, betrayals sown, and the coming war will have repercussions that ripple centuries later, in today’s world—and in particular for a young graduate student named Sara Hill.
‘The Last Days of Magic’ is written in third person past tense and follows a menagerie of characters. There are so many characters in this book, in fact, that it’s quite difficult, if not impossible, to determine who(m) are the main characters, or if there is a main character. After all, the book reads not so much like a story, as a history lesson, placing the emphasis on the facts and events and timeline, rather than the characters.
Pacing: The book skips days, weeks, months, even years. Such large and excessive gaps in time create the sense that the book is not a novel, but rather a history lesson. In its attempts to place the entire story on the page, it forgoes many of the vital character interactions which draw in the reader and make them care about what happens and to whom.
World: The world was not fully built. Dozens of settings and locations and specific points in time were discussed. However, none of them was given enough detail to really build an image in my mind, or build a world. Unfortunately, it left this book wanting, which was quite depressing as fantasy books are generally quite developed in the realm of world-building.
Writing: The writing left much to be desired because it was dull and dry. It placed the facts on the page. It offered the details of the scenes, the people, the events in a strategic manner, but in so doing, it lost voice. While everything was said, it was not said in an interesting way. Thus, much of the book was difficult to read through.
Non-Spoilered Plot: Historical Ireland is a place inhabited by not just humans, but descendants of angels as well. It’s a land of magic. Yet, some would prefer there be no magic because it cannot be controlled. With this lust for power, forces from across Europe will bribe, steal, kill, blackmail, enslave, and manipulate their ways into Ireland to vanquish the descendants of angels and destroy all magic they can’t have.
Character: Given the little amount of time spent with each character and their interactions with each other, the characters in this book lacked depth. However, this may be due to the fact that so little of the book focused on the interactions among the characters. Either way, none of the characters were interesting. Nor was I able to root for any of them and even found myself unable to care what happened to any of them.
Plot: Due to the inability to discern who the main character(s) are, it’s also difficult to determine which of the many plots is the main one. This book consists of plots regarding a greed for power, a greed for control, a desire to protect one’s own, a desire to find one’s place in the world, and yet none of them seem to stand out as the focal plot. This also has much to do with the fact that the novel is written in a history-book style.
Ultimately, the plot seems to be the battle between destroying and preserving the place that holds the last of magic in the mortal realm. In order to portray this plot, viewpoints on both sides are given. Yet, the book is written in an objective way, which allows the reader to determine which side and which character they are rooting for. However, this style has the adverse effect of giving the reader no one to root for. As a result, this book was tough to read, tough to chew, and tough to be interested in.
Even the details that make the book interesting — the magical elements, the varying degree of magical species, the classes and wars and unique society structures, and the reasons for wanting/not-wanting magic — are lost in the menagerie. There are so many of them that it quickly becomes difficult to keep them all straight. It also does not help that each of the characters being followed have their own varying viewpoints of each species, making it that much more impossible to discern who is on what side and what they do/are.
Despite the incomprehensibility of the book’s details, the inability to root for a character, and the lack of interest I had in continuing to read a history lesson, I pressured myself to finish this book. Though, I can’t say I got much out of it. I was especially disappointed by the epilogue, which ties in the prologue, which doesn’t make an appearance at all in the book until the epilogue. This just added to the madness and confusion. For this lack of continuity, I leave my rating of this book, ‘The Last Days of Magic’, at one star.