I finished reading Industrial Magic this week.
It wasn’t my usual fare, but it wasn’t bad. Probably not good enough to hunt down more of the series, but not bad. Honestly, the title is what got me. If I’d actually read the back cover, I probably wouldn’t have bought the book at all. I categorize this type of book as, basically, “chick lit fantasy romance”. But, again, that being said, it still wasn’t as bad as some of the stuff out there. For instance, I liked it better than Obsidian Butterfly, which I couldn’t even read past the first two chapters. When I read trashy fiction, I don’t want to read endless conversations with the main character’s old boyfriends, or potential boyfriends, or whatever. I want action. Plain and simple. I want something to be happening. I want plot based on events going on, not semi-romantic thoughts and feelings. In that regard, Industrial Magic delivered.
The basic plot is that a killer is stalking the heads of semi-secret magical Cabals, who are the sorcerous rivals of the more feminine, and witch-run, Covens and must be stopped. (So, yes, this really could have been a simple murder mystery without the magic, but, well, I guess that wouldn’t be as fun or sell as well.) The main character is a witch, Paige Winterbourne, who used to run a big Coven, but, in an earlier book, lost that position. Her love interest is Lucas Cortez, heir to the Cortez Cabal, but who is a crusading lawyer that fights the Cabals. It’s that connection that gets them drawn into the plot. They’re trying to find, and stop, the killer. And, to avoid spoilers, I’ll stop describing the plot there.
There’s magic all over the book, but, mainly, as a prop. Light spells being used instead of a handy pocket flashlight. Binding spells instead of a stun gun. Necromantic conversations instead of a CSI-type crime lab. Everything they used magic for could have been replaced with modern technology fairly easily without impacting the story. Except for one point when they “cross over” to the realms of death. Other than that, everything else could have been avoided by simply planning ahead. In other words, it was a wasted metaphor.
The other thing that bothered me was the Cabals. Sure, they were obviously some kind of metaphor for corporate America and/or organized crime, but at no time was the source of the Cortez Cabal’s fabulous wealth ever explained. They just were really organized and had a lot of money. Period. Ignore the writer behind the curtain. Frankly, I thought that was a shame. It could have been a really neat sub-plot. And, with the title, it was what I was hoping to see more about! Ah, well, at least I can still write my own take on that without worrying about repeating something that’s already been done.
All in all, Industrial Magic was a decent book, but not great. If you can find it at a discount book store, it’s worth getting.