Every so often a book comes around that is much more than a good read, or an engaging story. Certain books feel more like a portal, like the pages are kissed with magic and anytime you pick it up you are a hundred percent a part of the world as if you were inside the pages yourself. It’s those books that keep us digging through shelves. “An Unkindness of Magicians” by Kat Howard was all of that. “Unkindness” caused a similar stir in my mind that I experienced when I was read Harry Potter and Narnia as a child but I felt it as an adult. Magic is right there under our noses. Anything is possible. But, much like adult life, everything costs something and sometimes that cost is great.
Kat Howard threads an enchanting, mysterious, and dangerous world of social-climbing magicians with the familiar New York City, weaving a world both comforting and exciting and terrifying. The Fortune’s Wheel turned earlier than it should have. Powerful magical houses must get ready to hire their champions and battle to be the head of the Unseen World.
Hands down my favorite aspect of this book is Sydney, an unhoused magician with incredible magical talent and a fantastic backstory. I like to keep my reviews spoiler-free so this will remain no different BUT I will say that Sydney’s character arc is a raw and relatable thing of beauty. Every character in the story is complex and stands on their feet in their way. All of them kept my interest as the expertly woven story unfolded. Sydney is strong, brave, and full of faults and fear. I was rooting for from the moment I met her. Character-wise she’s one of greats.
I love the magic in this book. The magic is a character of its own. Many fantasy books have magic in them but so seldom does the magic come across on the page as having feelings, obstacles and faults. The visuals Howard painted of the magic casted were beautiful and never once slowed the story down but she also gave the magic a personality. This personality changes depending on who is using the magic and that is just fantastic.
I’m going to call out one more awesome aspect of this book and then you just have to go grab a copy because this is so worth reading. The relationships in this story (and there are many) are so organic and varied and real. Howard juggles multiple family dynamics and she does this with such a natural rhythm. I was invested in every one whether they were relationships built long before the story started or new ones we got to witness.
“An Unkindness of Magicians” is by far my favorite book I’ve read in 2017. Like I said in the beginning I felt the adult version of what I felt as kid when I read Harry Potter. That is awesome. So yeah, if you haven’t read it, grab a copy! You won’t regret it.