Saturday, July 2, 2011

"Magic Can Be Murder" by Vivian Vande Velde

Magic Can Be Murder opens strongly. In a world where witches are hunted down, young Nola doesn't realize she's special until she accidentally shows her friend the magic she can do.  After that all she and her mother do is run, never able to put down roots.  Then her mother goes half crazy, hearing voices in her head, believing a baby is living in her thumb.  I read the first few pages of this short YA novel and knew I had to read the rest.

Unfortunately, the pace slowed down after that.  It's basically a murder mystery, with some magic and a lot of cleverness.  After spending the night in the household of a man who later turns up murdered, Nola goes back to the scene to hide the fact that she and her mother are witches, even though they've moved on and would likely be safer just fleeing.  The reasoning is explained, but it still feels a little contrived. 

In the process of trying to destroy the evidence of her witchhood, she pretends to be someone else, and everything careens quickly out of control when she finds herself a suspect.  The ending's a bit too convenient. 

Overall, it's still a fun read:  very smooth writing, creative characters and world-building, nice romantic tension, witty dialogue.  I haven't read anything else of Vivian Vande Veld's, but after this, I believe I will.

Rating:  4

Explore her website, or buy the book.

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