Review: The End of Magic, by Mark Stay

The End of Magic offers its readers an intriguing premise. While many of us are no doubt familiar with books where seemingly normal people discover they possess magical powers (unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past twenty years and missed the Harry Potter phenomenon), this new fantasy novel, written by Mark Stay, turns the traditional tale on its head and, as the title suggests, deals with, well, the end of magic.

Rosheen Katell is a freelance mage and trusted truthseer who travels around the country from job to job with her griffin Anzu; Sander Bree is the king’s mage, stuck in a rut and desperately seeking a way out. Both draw their power from the Lapis Moon in orbit above, but when a comet collides with the moon, the magic they’ve relied upon disappears and their lives are changed forever. Rosheen is forced to help an evil, power-hungry warlord in a bid to save the life of her brother Oskar, a moonchild alone in his own world; while Sander faces a race against time to rescue the king’s daughter. What follows is a thrilling adventure packed full of action, conflict, loss, betrayal, heartache and a belly full of laughs.

The End of Magic is a gripping read from start to finish, with unexpected twists and turns throughout, culminating in a dark and bittersweet ending sure to tug at the heartstrings. The detailed descriptions in this neatly woven tale vividly bring to life the numerous inhabitants of this imaginary world, and the well-paced action ensures that The End of Magic is a page-turner you won’t want to put down. Sander, Rosheen and Oskar are all refreshingly strong characters affected by the collapse of the Lapis Moon in very different ways and forced to embark on dangerous journeys against their will. Though their paths are at odds at times, it’s hard not to champion the unlikely heroes of this tale, despite their own imperfections, and that’s thanks to the human aspect to the story, the way readers can get inside their heads and understand their motivations. The characterisations are relatable and realistic, but what makes The End of Magic really stand out is the wit and sarcastic humour dripping off the pages at times, notably through Stay’s  dialogue (“He’s not magical you morons, he’s just short.”). Don’t be fooled however, it’s certainly not a laugh-a-minute novel and the lighter moments instead neatly balance out the drama and tragedy, of which there’s plenty.

The End of Magic is a brave, compelling story of human endurance and determination and is sure to entertain. Stay previously co-wrote the screenplay to hit film Robot Overlords, starring Ben Kingsley, and its subsequent novelisation, and The End of Magic is a novel that certainly wouldn’t look out of place on the big screen.

The End of Magic and will be released on 7th February.

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