I read A Minor Magic and a Broken Magic by Justin Macumber, and I enjoyed them to come here to tell you about them.
I want to make sure we're clear up front, these books are not my usual fare. I'm not generally a fan of fantasy, or of urban fantasy, which in my opinion has enthusiastically adopted the sins of its parent genre. But I've been trying to broaden my horizons lately.
I also want to say that in talking about these books, I will not be covering formatting errors or typos/misspellings. Mainly because I find that boring to talk about and also because anything that a proofreader might catch is easily remedied.
These are books one and two of the Born of Fire series. They tell the tale of a teenage girl, Skylar, who finds herself orphaned and wandering through a future earth blasted by cataclysm and poisoned by magic. She is coming of age and discovers her own magical abilities; abilities that cause her to be ostracized from the closest thing she had to a family.
Macumber's prose is gentle in the telling of this story. His descriptions are vivid and range from the sensuous to the grotesque. In his hands, every emotion, every breath of air and turn of weather has a physical presence. He knows his setting well, and describes each one in lush and loving detail. The dialogue between characters is believable; the teens have a kind of pre-adult innocence to them that feels real. For older characters, the use of pop culture references from the modern day keeps the reader grounded in the present, gazing toward the near-future setting of the story.
As a female protagonist goes, Skylar starts out obnoxiously passive, moved to action by the winds of her fate and the needs of her friends. As the story progresses through both books, she comes into her own, eventually becoming a character who shows a great deal of personal strength and self-determination. That growth is a vital component that is so often missing from female characters, and Skylar does prove Joseph Campbell wrong as she refuses to be the prize and instead takes the hero's journey herself.
Macumber does not explain the magic system in these books in any defined way, which has been a huge crime of modern fantasy novels in my opinion. If you need a system for your magic, great. Make one. Just don't, for the love of god, tell the reader about it. It's magic. We want it to feel... well, magical! We aren't supposed to know how magic works. That's where the wonder comes from.
I believe the book contains a small amount of mild swearing, but it's so minor that nothing sticks out in my mind as egregious. There's a sweet teenage romance in there, but no sex, and I would say that these books are appropriate for a teen audience. The story is simple in a good, comforting way, and still enjoyable enough that I consumed book two, A Broken Magic, over the course of twenty-four hours. The action has real impact, and the obstacles are significant enough to lend tension to the narrative, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat.
I recommend these books if you know a teen girl who feels a little like a square peg in a round hole, or for adults who enjoy a good, action packed fantasy adventure. You can find both A Minor Magic and A Broken Magic on Amazon.com.