Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Old Magic by Marianne Curley

Grade: A (barely)


Kate is at a loss. She meets a boy with extraordinary powers and a bizarre family history that can be traced back to the Middle Ages. But Jarrod doesn't believe in the paranormal. When Kate tries to convince him that he has supernatural powers that need to be harnessed, he doesn't take her seriously, and only puts up with her "hocus pocus" notions because he finds her captivating.

However, the dangerous, uncontrolled strengthening of his gift finally convinces Jarrod that he must take Kate's theories seriously. Together, they embark on a remarkably journey -- one which will unravel the mystery that has hung over Jarrod's family for generations and finds them pitted against immense forces in a battle to undo the past and reshape the future.


Character Development: 6/10
Originality: 7/10
Overall Enjoyment: 8/10
Ending: 7/10
Voice: 7/10
Plot: 8/10
Setting: 8/10
Total Score: 51/70

Obtained: Bought.

Age Appropriate? PG

Cussing: Very little, if any.
Alcohol, Drugs, etc: Mentions teen drinking.
Sexual Content: References to marital sex.
Disturbing Images/Violence: Graphic violence and murder. Mentions of depression and suicide.


This book was a standard modern fairy tale. Well written, sure, with a strong basic plot, decent voice, and interesting settings. It was moderately enjoyable. However, it was seriously lacking in two points: character development and consistency.

The two main characters, Jarrod and Kate, confused me utterly. They had that "inexplicable attraction" that is so annoyingly unrealistic, yet appears in countless stories. But...the thing that threw me off was that they honestly didn't seem to like each other. They did not fit together in that way. There was nothing positive (physical traits aside) that they could think about each other. Their love seemed to be a manipulation by the author of their true characters, not a natural occurrence.

Additionally, Jarrod began as a spineless wimp. This was acknowledged by Kate early on, yes, but it was not an attractive characteristic in him. It made it embarrassing to read about him. Uncomfortable. Kate herself was weirdly unbalanced. Though she narrates half the story, the reader never seems to actually know anything about her.

This brings us to the second point: Inconsistencies. The story jumps through time, which was actually pretty cool. The author is very good at the Middle Ages thing. The only problem I had was dialogue. There is a big to-do about the difference between modern English and Middle English, and the character's dialogue reflects this change by their syntax and word choice. When Kate is talking to Jarrod, she reverts back to modern English.

Or that's the theory, anyway.

I was caught off-guard by how often the lines between modern and Middle English were blurred. Jarrod might say something to a Middle Age character in archaic, formal speak, then turn to Kate and rattle off something using modern slang, and then return to the Middle Age character, still speaking in a noticeably modern way. Similar discrepancies occurred throughout the novel. Very confusing.

That's not to say the book wasn't worth reading. I liked it a lot, particularly the time-travel part. My enjoyment increased two-fold when the setting changed from modern day Australia (which I didn't pick up on for a while) to Middle Age England. The book went slowly, but in the end I did not regret reading it. Lovers of tales of modern witchcraft, time-travel, and magic should pick up this novel if it crosses their path.


Marianne Curley

1 comment:

  1. Sounds marvelous! I vaguely remember this one but I believe it had a different cover :)


Comment, comment, comment! We love your words, so type, type, type, Readers!

We love to hear from authors, fellow reviewers, YA readers, and random members of the general public. Have your say, and let us know what you think!