Friday, April 4, 2008

Uncertain Magic Review

Book: Uncertain Magic
Author: Laura Kinsale
Category: Historical, Paranormal
Grade: C+
Cursed with the ability to hear the thoughts of those around her, Roderica is resigned to living without marriage or love. But when she finds one man's thoughts closed to her, she takes her only chance on marriage with an enigmatic, impoverished lord, The Devil Earl, whose Irish estate is haunted by memories and faerie mists...

Let me start by saying that I'm very so-so on this story. There were parts that I absolutely loved and then there were parts that I rolled my eyes at.

Roderica (Roddy) Delamore has a gift of being able to hear the thoughts and feel the emotions of people and animals. To Roddy, her gift is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand she is able to see past facades and get to the truth of the people around her, but on the other it leaves her feeling as though she knows too much. All of the women on Roddy's fathers side of the family have had this gift and they all lived lonely lives because it. One of her aunts even suffered having her husband leave her when he found out about his wife's gift. Roddy fears that she will fare the same fate as her aunts so when she meets a man whose thoughts she can not read, she jumps at the opportunity to get him to marry her.

The man is Faelan Savigar, "the Devil Earl." Faelan is man with a horrible reputation. He is said to be a callous murderer, scandalous womanizer, and it is even whispered that he killed his own father. To Roddy, none of these rumors matter, the fact that she is unable to read Falen is reason enough for her to propose the idea of a marriage to the impoverished earl. Roddy knows that Faelan's estate is in ruin and he is in dire need of money. She has a sizable fortune of her own that will become her husbands when she marries. She tells this to Faelan in hopes of him seizing the opportunity, Faelan is easily persuaded and asks Roddy's father for his daughters hand in marriage.

Of course, Roddy's family is flabbergasted at this sudden request. They had no idea that Faelan even knew Roddy let alone wanted to marry her. They also know of his reputation and are not too eager to let Roddy go to him. None the less, they give in and Roddy and Faelan are married. Once Roddy is married to Faelan she realizes that the simple life she wanted might not be as easy to obtain as she had once hoped. Her new husband has many secrets that come in many forms and it is slowly revealed to Roddy just how dangerous the man she has come to love can be.

Alrighty then.

Certain Magic is told in third person, but from Roddy's POV, we never get inside of Faelan's head. No problems though, because Faelan's character is drawn very well. I had no problems understanding him or his motivations, and I liked him a lot. I loved the passion between Roddy and Faelan and for the most part I thought they were well matched, but as the book progressed I began to not care so much for Roddy.

Roddy had a tendency to do stupid things: Like pull away from Faelan's side while a battle was going on around them (bodies were hitting the ground) to chase after her pet pig! I also felt as though she doubted Faelan way too easily. Her faith in him was not strong which made me doubt her love for him. My dislike of Roddy only grew as the story progressed and toward the end of the book I was secretly hoping that Faelan would ride off into the sunset without the faithless chit. If not for the fact that she finally began to show some conviction in him (all be it late), I would have written her off completely.

I feel that most of the drama that occurred between Roddy and Faelan during the second half of the book was contrived and could have easily been done away with to make a better story. But that's just me.

As far as the paranormal aspect goes... There was Roddy's gift and some other paranormal elements, related to Faelan, threaded through the story. Both came together to tie everything up at the end. I'm still not sure how much I liked the final explanation given to all of the strangeness.

Even with its faults I can not ignore Kinsale's talents. Her writing is very captivating and it is easy to get lost in the story she builds. If I could grade this book in two parts I would give the first half a strong B and the second half a low C. I guess that would average out around a C+.


  1. Brie, I agree with your comments. :) This is one of Kinsale's books that I liked the least. I read it a few years ago, so I can't remember the specifics too well ... I found the story a little strange, that's all. The magical aspect of it in the 2nd-half was a bit weird for me. ;)

  2. Jace, "strange" is a good way to describe Uncertain Magic. I think it sums the book up really well. But I do love Kinsale's writing, just not this particular story.

  3. Interesting review :D I know I'll be staying away from this one... I still have to read the Kinsale in my TBR pile :D

  4. I haven't read this one, but this is how I felt about The Prince of Midnight. After a while I stopped liking the heroine and wondered why the hero still loved her.