Rough Magic, by Caryl Cude Mullin


(Buy from Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or Second Story Press.)

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Follow the interwoven stories of two girls and one woman, their lives all tied to the enigmatic figure of Caliban, the character first introduced by Shakespeare in The Tempest, his famous play of love, loyalty, and magic. Caliban is the strange, half-wild man Prospero and Miranda discovered on an island after being shipwrecked. Rough Magic forms both prequel and sequel, telling the stories of the sorceress Sycorax, Caliban’s mother; Miranda’s daughter Chiara, who becomes like a daughter to Caliban; and Calypso, a magical young woman with ties to them all. All three must fight against a world that sees magic as evil and uses women as political pawns. Finally, it is the island and its power that draws them all back, demanding amends from the humans who have exploited its natural wonders. A spellbinding story that combines an old-fashioned tale of dragons, shipwrecks, adventure, and sacrifice, with an inspiring message of the earth’s power and our environmental responsibility.

Thoughts: This is a YA fantasy that spans multiple generations, all of them important to each other and none that could be glossed over without missing some essential element of the tale as a whole. Not an easy task to accomplish, yet Caryl Mullin carries it off with grace and style.

The GoodReads description, I find, does not do this novel justice. With mentions of “earth’s power” and “evironmental responsibility”, one could almost expect a book filled with heavy-handed preaching and obvious neo-pagan elements. That isn’t what you’ll find in this novel. This isn’t a, “clean up the world or we’ll all suffer later,” book of doom and gloom, but rather an engaging story that happens to have strong elements of, “one of the last places in which magic freely exists is dying because people arew fallible and we made some serious mistakes.” It isn’t heavy-handed. It is done beautifully, which makes that message far more enjoyable to see and tolerable to hear.

Because let’s face it, nobody really enjoys being preached at.

This book will also be a treat for anybody who enjoys seeing strong female characters in the media. From a powerful sorceress to a girl who’s just so very competant and forthright that you can’t help but like her, this book puts women in the spotlight and does it with flair, but doesn’t relegate males to the background as completely unimportant to the plot. Both sides of the gender coin get their fair and wonderful treatment.

A page-turner from beginning to end! This is one book that I’m proud to recommend to just about everybody!

(Received for review from Second Story Press)

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