Thursday, January 5, 2012
Magical Mischief Review
Book talk: There are few places left where magic can live undisturbed. The world is too busy, too clean, and too new for magic. So when a bit of magic finds Mr. Hardbattle's dusty, quiet, old bookshop it is delighted. Living with magic can be hard--it smells awful and can create quite a mess when it gets excited. But life is never boring when the bottom step may turn into custard at any moment. So when Mr. Hardbattle learns he'll have to move out of the shop he's worried about where the magic will go. With the help of his new friends, though they just may be able to save the shop and the magic.
Rocks my socks: The premise of someone trying to save an independent book shop from closing down is timely and presented in a charming way. This is an old-fashioned fairy tale kind of world where people's characters are reflected by their names. I enjoyed reading about the mischief the magic got up to and I enjoyed the characters of Mr. Hardbattle and the boy Arthur Goodenough who ends up helping him.
Rocks in my socks: The plot has more holes in it than a sieve, the characters are mostly two-dimensional, and the pacing is slow. I really wanted to like this book, but I didn't. It was, like Arthur, good enough but the lackluster characterization and weak plot kept it from truly engaging me. Having worked in an independent book store the wildly inaccurate depiction of that annoyed me as well. I have no idea how Mr. Hardbattle could run a shop where the books constantly rearrange themselves, or keep afloat when he only has one or two customers a day unless he's doing crazy amounts of delivery, which doesn't seem to be the case. His shop must be really tiny too if a couple of people with no book shop experience can shelve ALL the books in the course of a morning. Many plot devices felt contrived such as the exterminator who randomly stopped by the shop then immediately began work as soon as he discovered what he thought to be a roach infestation without speaking to anyone other than a child too young to actually work there. The completely unsympathetic portrayal of the only teacher in the book didn't exactly thrill me either.
Every book its reader: I'd give this to someone looking for a magical tale to read before bed--something sweet that they'll be able to easily put down and pick up the next night.
Magical Mischief by Anna Dale
Buy it or check it out today!