Book Review: The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller

3 stars
[Reviews] [About Cat Hartliebe]

I picked up this book looking for a name I never read before and a fantasy non romance. That was my goal and this did hit on fantasy non romance. There is a second book with the same MC and more within this world.

Now considering I acquired what I wanted while searching through B&N, I surprised myself by wanting to put the thing down after a few pages. As you might have guessed, I didn’t put the book down.

The world in which the story takes place has a lot of thought put into it. The language matches to old English mostly as if I was reading a historical fiction. However the use of magic is nothing like a story about King Arthur.  Some things made me question, like bathrooms inside which does not match the historical setting.  But nothing about the setting and world made me give up mid way, so it was planned considerably well.

She created two separate races half going into the racism you find in every day life in America, but didn’t make them truly hateful towards one another. Because of the excessive push for lawful-ness within this world, it was rare to have racism be a dangerous thing. But passive racism was most definitely there, even within the laws. She never pushes the topic, or places any viewpoint of her own into the book, which is good. The two separate races were ‘white’ and ‘dark’. At first I literally thought they were two separate races unable to intermate or anything, but it become pretty clear they are the same species, human, but are not allowed to join together for any reason.

In the same vein as racism, her story has a level of sexism, she probably doesn’t even notice. Most of the workers just so happen to be male. The females in use are connected romantically to someone else. Daphne is an important character, yes, but also the romantic interest of the MC. There were no females working with the horses and the authority figures were generally all males. She mentions Mistresses for the guilds, which is good. Still, she has a very limited amount of female named characters. Many of the characters could be male or female without issue. Male by defacto, basically.

Neither racism or sexism mattered to the plot of the story. Well technically a level of racism does matter, but not entirely.

The story is written for the most part in 3rd person limited. It would occasionally switch to omni which made me want to stop reading. Nothing was written in omni that was required or couldn’t be done with a different point of view for a short while. She switched between characters often, too. For the most part it was hard to decide who was who in the switch off. The characters needed to show their personality more within the POV of them. I could tell they are developed characters. But the characters’ POV was more omni than limited at points and I lost track of who was being used.

After a few pages I came across a punctuation error. I stared at it annoyed by the miss, but continued on. After a few more pages another one caught my eye. Normally little mistakes can be ignored, but this was too the point of needing an edit through for punctuation alone. At one point several POV became all italics, which made little sense. Italics are for thought, emphasis, and flashbacks. Those sections were none of them. I was annoyed during reading just because of these random missed errors. Errors that should not have been missed if someone did a basic edit run.

One of my struggles with stories is people love description. I don’t. I yawned over the pictures descriptions because all it was was drawing a picture. There was no point to some of the descriptions; they could be switched and make no difference to the story. Some level of description is required for a good book. Would I say this was purple prose? Maybe not. But it also didn’t help the story entertain me.

Not all description is bad. As I said it’s required. Letting me know the library is chock full of books the way she did was great. Letting me see and feel the weather magic orb thingy was awesome. So the use of description probably would be more of a positive than a negative as most would not be bothered by the use of it. Just because I am does not mean everyone would be.

I’ll make one more point. And it’s biggest the point that annoys me the most. She didn’t stop when she should’ve. This book had an extra four chapters. It should have ended with chapter twenty seven. It was enough of a draw to want to read the next book. And it concluded after the point where Asher is stuck unable to follow his original goal of only a year there. It leaves several plot points open, but one of the first is closed. The ending could stop a shy before that, but then the book length would probably be off.

Where she ended the book there was no conclusion, it was just continuation until a major cliffhanger. I hate cliffhangers. Most readers hate cliffhangers. Now they are stuck wanting to know the next moment and told ‘wait until next week to find out who lived and who died.’ Why do that? It makes no sense. It doesn’t end the story. And the ending makes me not want to buy the next book. At the end of chapter twenty seven I wanted to read more. At the end of chapter thirty one, I was f this, I’m done.

When you have a series it is important to find a good ending spot. Where a reader feels complete but still wants to read more. It’s hard, I know. I have several books that should be set up as a series. Endings must be conclusions. They must have a draw to them to make the reader feel connected and complete. And ending for a series must cause the reader to want to read the next one.

If I could say one sentence to the writer it would: it needs more editing. It is a first draft copy? No. But it also isn’t a final. And it disappoints me as both a reader and a writer to find a book like this traditionally published. I will not be buying book two or any others in this saga. I have better things to spend my money on.

Pros: Well thought out world; fleshed characters; good use of description.

Cons: POV switch; punctuation errors; bad ending.

[Reviews] [About Cat Hartliebe]

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