#SPFBO Ruthless Magic (Conspiracy of Magic #1) by Megan Crewe

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RuthlessMagicRuthless Magic is the sixth finalist I’ve read as part of the SPFBO.   Ruthless Magic is a book that follows a group of young people who are taking part in a, well, ruthless exam that is their final hope to hold onto their magical ability.  Basically, at the age of 16 all magical novices are assessed by the Confederation of Mages.  Some will pass the assessment while others will not and for those who fail their magic will be muted.  The only hope is to declare for the Mages Exam and hope to become a champion – but hope more to simply survive.

I enjoyed Ruthless Magic but it didn’t completely win me over as I had a number of issues that I wanted more information on.  Obviously, the second book might deliver on those issues so time will tell.  First a bit more about the story.

We follow two main POVs.  Finn, who comes from a family of high standing within the magical community.  His own talents are mediocre at best and yet in spite of this he passes his assessment without any problems, for which he feels a great deal of guilt, especially as his close friend fails her own assessment even though she has far more talent.  Finn is aware of his own privileged background and because of his awareness of the unfairness he declares for the Mages Exam – even though he could be killed during the process.  Rocio is a young woman from the wrong sides of the tracks.  Her magical ability is outstanding and yet she fails the assessment.  She also declares for the exam even though her brother was killed taking part a couple of years earlier.  There are a number of other characters but Finn and Rocio are the central protagonists and they develop not only a firm friendship during the days of the exam but also become romantically involved.  To be honest, I don’t have a problem with the romantic aspects here, they weren’t overdone, although there is a serious case of instalove going on.

The world building.  This is one of the areas that I struggled with a little.  I think there was insufficient information to really help me draw a mental picture.  This is a modern setting, there are cars mentioned and other modern day items – the clothing described included jeans, etc.  But, this was one of my first issues.  We have a modern setting in which certain people have magical ability.   I can get on board with that easily enough but I struggled to come to grips with such a contemporary setting wherein brutal exams, where children frequently die, take place and yet there is no public outcry.  It just doesn’t sit well for me, it’s a little like saying we have a modern day setting of Rome where gladiators still take part in games to the death.  We’ve moved on, we’ve changed.  For me, if you’re going to have a world, so resembling our own but with something that is so fundamentally at odds, then there needs to be an explanation of sorts. I would like a little bit of history of the hows and whys this world has reached this point.  Again, this might come in the next instalment but for this read it left me feeling slightly agitated.

The characters.  I quite liked both Rocio and Finn.  They’re both likable people who are determined to do what’s right in a world that is determined to treat them unfairly.  They’re very different in terms of upbringing and yet they’re both ‘nice people’.  However, I can’t deny that I quite often lost track of which character I was reading about – their voices weren’t distinct enough for me and I found if I didn’t pay particular attention to the chapter headings then it sometimes led to confusion and back tracking.

In terms of the story itself.  I liked the idea of the Mage Exam itself but I found the similarity to the Hunger Games just a bit much, particularly the final event.  That won’t be a problem if you haven’t read the Hunger Games of course but I just found it to be too familiar.  Don’t get me wrong, I really liked The Hunger Games, but I think if you’re going to do something so similar you have to own it, there has to be something that makes it rise above somehow and I didn’t really feel that here.

I enjoyed the writing and thought the pacing was good, I’m not sure that I would read this series further but I would certainly pick up more by this author in the future.

I realise this probably comes across as quite negative, which isn’t my intention.  I think there will be plenty of readers who will enjoy this and I certainly wouldn’t want to persuade others not to give it a shot.  I can be a little bit like a dog with a bone when I become stuck on an issue where I feel the information is lacking and I admit it can become a real distraction for me.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

I would rate Ruthless Magic as 6.5 out of 10 for the SPFBO or 3 out of 5 on Goodreads.

 

 

 

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18 Responses to “#SPFBO Ruthless Magic (Conspiracy of Magic #1) by Megan Crewe”

  1. The Cozy Pages

    Interesting premise…

    • @lynnsbooks

      It is = I like the idea of the modern day setting – I just would have liked a bit more information to make me feel it worked.
      Lynn 😀

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    While reading your synopsis I thought indeed of the Hunger Games, and wondered if those books had had a love child with the Harry Potter saga… 🙂
    Still the presence of magic in a modern setting is an intriguing one. Thanks for sharing!

    • @lynnsbooks

      It is an intriguing premise – and HP meets Hunger Game is quite a good description for this one.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Zezee

    Great review. I don’t think it was negative at all. Actually, I now want to read it. You just explained the misgivings you had, which I take as things to be aware of as I read, and I appreciate that. I’m adding this to my TBR. I’m curious about it.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Thanks – I always worry when I’m discussing things that didn’t work for me – on the one hand, I don’t want to put people off reading a book, but on the other hand if I don’t say those things and somebody reads them and has the same issues it would make me feel kind of guilty for not pointing them out.
      Lynn 😀

      • Zezee

        Totally get what you mean. Your review was well-balanced.

      • @lynnsbooks

        Thank you 😀

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Hmm, it does seem derivative in places.

    • @lynnsbooks

      Shame really – it wasn’t a bad read but because of the similarities I couldn’t help comparing and that’s not always a good thing.
      Lynn 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, and it’s not always a bad thing – but I think at the same time it has to be stand out if you’re going to use such similar ideas.
      Lynn 😀

  5. Tammy

    I think the modern day setting would have to make more sense for me too.

  6. waytoofantasy

    Great review! It feels like an interesting premise but IDK about the modern day setting. Looking forward to more SPFBO reviews!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, I just had issues with some unanswered questions -it might work better for other readers tbh, I realise that I can be a bit of a dog with a bone sometimes.
      Lynn 😀

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