Book Review: Hatching Magic Lacks Finesse

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The dragons of Hatching Magic by Ann Downer (now Downer-Hazell) I found to be no more than catalysts.  I did not particularly feel that Wycca or her hatchling added much to the tension or interest of the story, despite their apparent importance and Wycca being one of the main narrators.  I believe it could as easily have been any other creature or object that the wizards went chasing without the change detracting from the story.

This is a story about wizards running amok in modern Boston.

I wasn’t wonderfully impressed by Hatching Magic.  While conceptually enjoyable and while Downer’s magic was intricate and well described, I found the writing overall to be rough.  The tale is told in multiple third persons, but while scene changes are always marked with a break in the text, changes in point-of-view are not, and brief dips into such minds as Frankie the cat’s made it seem as if Downer would have preferred an omniscient third.

Yet despite many close narrators, too often the characters were able to come to correct conclusions without me as a reader being able to see how they came to that realization, which I found irritating.

The use of one too many tropes further detracted from the story (though parts of these back-stories Downer was able to nicely make ultimately important).

The story was overall a little slow, but not to the point of fault.  Whenever two of the three main, humanoid narrative sets met, the action and my interest piqued.  When Kobold finally showed his cruelty, the story picked up tremendously—though [SPOILER] Gideon’s near-fall to Kobold’s trump spell seemed out of character and broke my suspension of disbelief.  I needed him to moon more prior to this spell for it to seem in his character. [END SPOILER]

Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of Downer’s story was the descriptions of 21st century technologies by characters from the 13th century.  Using terms that would have been familiar to 13th century magical beings, Downer was able to convey to this 21st century reader what the 13th century characters were seeing, and did so without it seeming awkward or cliché.

The final chapter sets this book up as the first in a series.  [SPOILER] Kobold speaks of a master, but this master never appeared nor was he further described in Hatching Magic. [END SPOILER]  I would have liked to have seen more of the grander evil come into play in the first book if only because I don’t think that the first—even with its final teasers—was enjoyable enough to make me read the second in the series except by chance, particularly as the jacket description of The Dragon of Never-Was makes me think that my favorite characters will be left behind in favor of heroine Theodora “Dodo” Oglethorpe, who just wasn’t as interesting to me as—well, almost anyone else in the tale.  I think I might continue to read the misadventures of Gideon and Kobold and cheer to see Iain Merlin O’Shea return via letters from the future, giving me updates on Febrys (who I would like to see returned from her new form into something again capable of speech, because she really was the character with the most growth through the book), but of Dodo?  Not so much.

**

Downer, Ann.  Hatching Magic.  New York: Scholastic, 2004.

This review is not endorsed by Ann Downer-Hazell, Scholastic, Inc, or Antheneum Books or Simon & Schuster, the original publishers.  It is an independent, honest review by a reader.

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