By: Gail Daley Publication Date: January 2018 ISBN: 978-1386552901 Reviewed by: Gina Montanha Review Date: September 2019
Spell of the Magiis a fantastical story set in the 22nd Century, yet the majority of the setting and characters depict a much simpler time, where travel is taken by unicorns and wagons, food is hunted or gathered, and with very few exceptions, technology is nearly non-existent. From our Earth, new worlds were discovered through various Portals, one of which was the world of Rulari, where this story takes place. There are people with magic powers called Magi, who must register with Proctors and are forced into a life of pre-arranged marriages for proper breeding. Magi children are segregated and brainwashed to obey Proctors and anyone can be killed for disobeying or even for having no magical talents.
Those like the beautiful and rebellious Rebecca Mabinogion live in hiding as unregistered Magi (also known as Magi Cadre) and disguise themselves as Travelers, making a living in different villages, in any way they can. On Rebecca’s tenth birthday, her parents were captured and eventually chose to die together, rather than conform to the forced life of the Proctors. Her grandparents continued to raise Rebecca and her siblings until years later when unfortunate circumstances cause the family, led by her Grandfather Lewys, to head out to the safety and comfort of their family birthright, a magical fortress called Ironlyn.
The family travels riding prized unicorns and towing their wagons for many weeks, through many villages before they reach Ironlyn. The roads are long and treacherous and the family must disguise themselves and their unicorns, using fake names and staying off more traveled routes. This of course leads them into more predicaments along the way, including the need for Rebecca to trick an injured Merc (a non-Magi soldier) named Andre, into believing he is her fiancée.
When they finally reach Ironlyn, they must get the sanctuary ready to sustain all of its residents (as it will provide shelter to any Magi seeking asylum from the Proctors), as well as prepare it for an impending war with the Proctors and those who rule them. Rebecca and each of her siblings use their individual talents, as well as the hidden magical gifts of the fortress itself, to band together and meet their attackers head on.
Spell of the Magiis futuristic, yet primitive and grounded in basic principles like love, loyalty and family. There are characters with complicated names and titles, and fictitious words that can make it a bit difficult to follow at times, but the essence of the story is clear - protect your family at any cost. The ending of the story is a bit wanting, as it seemed to just stop, without a clear ending and made me wonder if there might be a sequel in the works. Regardless, the story is quite enjoyable and those who like tales of magic and suspense should definitely check out this new tale.
Quill says:Spell of the Magiis otherworldly and will be truly enjoyed by readers who love stories of sorcery, surprises and forbidden romance.