Wednesday, February 3, 2021

REVIEW: A Question of Magic (book) by E.D. Baker

A Question of Magic is Middle Grade fantasy.


Serafina is a happy 14-year-old whose greatest wish is to one day marry Alek, her handsome and wonderful boyfriend. However, that dream may prove impossible. When Serafina receives a letter from a great aunt she didn't know she had, she goes to visit the woman and soon finds herself caught up in terrible magic. She has now become the next Baba Yaga, cursed to truthfully answer questions (only one per person, the first question they ask her). Each question physically ages her, and she has no control over what sorts of questions she answers or the kind of answers she gives. Can she somehow find a way to break the curse and return to her old life with Alek?

This is another one of my old conference ARCs that I never got around to reading. Better late than never.

This wasn't bad, I guess, but it also wasn't particularly great. Serafina and Alek were a cloyingly sweet and perfect couple, so I actually preferred it once Serafina was under the Baba Yaga curse and cut off from him and the rest of her family. Maks the cat and the talking skulls that protected Serafina and her house were more enjoyable characters.

My knowledge of Baba Yaga is limited to vague memories of one or more picture books my mom read to me when I was little. I remember the house with chicken legs and that's pretty much it. It was interesting watching Serafina figure out the details and limitations of her Baba Yaga abilities, and there were a few great moments, like when Maks managed to trick a visitor into asking a useless question. The people who visited Serafina had all kinds of motivations, and sometimes the answers she was required to give made her happy while other times they horrified her.

Unfortunately, Serafina had very limited control over everything going on around her. There were only a couple times when she (or Maks) herded her visitors into asking particular types of questions - instead, she relied more heavily on just leaving when the questions she was being asked worried or upset her, or when she was being asked too many questions and was worried that she was aging too much. She made a few friends here and there, and that helped, but the story was designed so that, in the end, it was others who had adventures and brought the results to her door. For example, Alek had many adventures, all of which happened off-page and were explained to Serafina in a brief summary near the end of the book. It was disappointing.

I noticed one major error near the end of the book that I hope was fixed prior to publication. Someone asked Serafina a question and, although they'd never previously asked Baba Yaga a question, she didn't answer in her Baba Yaga voice. It happened during a pretty important part so, again, hopefully it was caught and fixed.

No comments:

Post a Comment