5 stars, Adventure, Book Review, Celine Jeanjean, dogs, fantasy, magic, series, talking cats, urban fantasy
About Touched by Magic by Celine Jeanjean
I’m Apiva. No, I’m not a badass magical asassin. I’m a barber to the supernatural. My magic is very weak and very niche — it works best with keeping things clean. I know. I can sense your awe at my power already. And I’m sure you can see why barbering suits me well.
Although now that I’ve mastered the art of trimming a weretiger’s regrowth, my biggest challenge is fielding the insults of the shop’s cat. Sometimes I wish I had enough magic to go deeper into the city’s magical underbelly. You know what they say—be careful what you wish for.
Everything changes when a pair of forest fae come into the shop one night, asking for help to protect their youngling. Something’s got them properly spooked, but they won’t say what. If it’s big and bad enough to scare the fae, it’s most definitely powerful enough to make a mouthful of me—probably a small mouthful, at that. And now that the fae have come to me, whatever’s after them is also after me.
My weak magic and a sarcastic cat for backup are unlikely to be enough to keep me alive and save the fae youngling. There is someone who’s willing to help me—Sarroch. Arrogant, unpleasant, wealthy, and I don’t even know what kind of magical creature he is beneath his human form. Or what his motives are in offering to help. I have no idea if I can trust him, but I’m so short on allies, I might not have a choice. I just hope I’m not making a huge mistake…
Grab Touched by Magic to see if I make it. Oh, and don’t get offended if the cat insults you…
Review of Touched by Magic
I was very excited to get this first book in a new series by Celine Jeanjean. I loved her Viper and Urchin series, so I have high expectations for this new one. Book 1 did not disappoint!
The author has created a lovely detailed vision of Panong, the city where Apiya lives and barbers. The east Asian influence is evident in many ways: food, dress, transportation and, most importantly, in the folklore – the magical creatures, also known as the Mayak. Many of the terms were not not familiar to me, prompting me to do a little research. But the story gives plenty of definition and context so you will not need to do that research. The Mayak is comprised of many different magical beings, each with their own agenda. Those Mayak agendas will play into the story not only in this first book, but in the ongoing story.
Apiya is, as the title says, touched by magic. That means she is not very magical but seems to be very lucky around things that are familiar to her. Which explains why Hunter, the dog she loves, mostly sheds outside. All this animal lover can say is Wow! What a great idea. As a touched human, Apiya is also aware of all the other more powerful magical beings. And while most of the Mayak believe Apiya to be beneath notice, a few do notice her. Which is how she gets into a sticky situation.
Along for the adventure are Mr. Sangong, her magical mentor, her touched friend Chai, and businessman/Mayak Sarroch. I found Mr. Sangong to be mysterious and not yet worthy of my loyalty because I’m not sure of his loyalty. Chai is an artist with a talent for shaping any type of metal into whatever he wants. And he is a great friend to Apiya, so, good guy. Sarroch is the big question. Is he good? Is he evil? Will he help Apiya or eat her? He is, I must admit, interesting.
I enjoyed Apiya’s relationship with her with parents. They live in London, so she talks to them by phone. Dad is a geeky scholar who barely knows how to use a phone and Mom is the calming voice of reason in the family. Their family sense of humor is delightful! Humor also comes in the form of a cat. Timothy is a magical cockney cat, who doesn’t take orders from ‘inferiors’ (humans). As Apiya says: ‘But that’s cats for you — tiny animals with enough arrogance to think they rule the world.”
The book ends on what I consider to be a cliffhanger. That is, a major part of the storyline concluded and then the story continued, without the word ‘epilogue’ in between. So I was a truly disappointed when it ended somewhat abruptly. Touched by Magic is just 195 pages long and it was over too fast. The next book is out next month though, so the wait is not long. I am looking forward to more of Apiya’s adventures!
Thanks to the author who provided a copy of her book in exchange for my honest review.
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