A Spoonful of Magic
by Irene Radford Publisher: Daw Books Publication Date:
November 7, 2017 Genres: Fantasy Pages:
304 Source: NetGalley
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A delightful new urban fantasy about a kitchen witch and her magical family
Daphne "Daffy" Rose Wallace Deschants has an ideal suburban life--three wonderful and talented children; a coffee shop and bakery, owned and run with her best friend; a nearly perfect husband, Gabriel, or "G" to his friends and family. Life could hardly be better.
But G's perfection hides dangerous secrets. When Daffy uncovers evidence of his infidelity, her perfect life seems to be in ruins. On their wedding anniversary, Daffy prepares to confront him, only to be stopped in her tracks when he foils a mugging attempt using wizard-level magic.
Suddenly, Daphne is part of a world she never imagined--where her husband is not a traveling troubleshooter for a software company, but the sheriff of the International Guild of Wizards, and her brilliant children are also budding magicians. Even she herself is not just a great baker and barista--she's actually a kitchen witch. And her discovery of her powers is only just beginning.
But even the midst of her chaotic new life, another problem is brewing. G's ex-wife, a dangerous witch, has escaped from her magical prison. Revenge-bent and blind, she needs the eyes of her son to restore her sight--the son Daffy has raised as her own since he was a year old. Now Daphne must find a way to harness her new powers and protect her family--or risk losing everything she holds dear.
I picked this book up because the cover is gorgeous and the blurb sounded really fascinating. Soccer mom urban fantasy? YES, PLEASE! There’s so many UFs with hot young single things who end up in relationships with various paranormal creatures – and don’t get me wrong, I love those books as much as anyone – but the prospect of an older mom with a long-term relationship as the heroine sounded so fresh and unusual to me. Of course, I had assumed that the allegations of infidelity would turn out to be untrue. But, oh, I was so wrong. Not only has G (what the heck, dude, you’re a freaking glorified policeman, not a celebrity) cheated on his wife repeatedly over their thirteen years of marriage, but he’s completely unrepentant about it. Oh, and also, he’s a wizard, he actually works for a global wizard law enforcement organization instead of a software company, and the kids will probably start manifesting their magic soon which might make them act basically insane. Needless to say, Daffy is pretty upset that he’s been lying to her for the entire thirteen years they’ve been married, kicks him out, and files for divorce.
There were several enjoyable things about this book. I loved the kids and watching them manifest their magic. I found the explanation of wands, and how a magician finds them, especially interesting, though a lot of the rest of the magic system seemed hazy and unexplained. I loved reading about the intersection of the mundane and magical – Daffy worrying about how to get the kids to their various activities and also giving them enough time to do homework and practice their magic. I liked her interactions with her friend, Gayle, and also the start of a new romance with a fellow dance parent. I also liked the villain and the plot revolving around her.
But then there’s G. As far as I can tell, G is basically irredeemable as a human being. At one point, G admits that he didn’t love Daffy when he married her and basically was using her as an unpaid nanny for his kid from his first marriage. Oh, and a convenient sex outlet, because, apparently, after you work “major magic,” you end up with “needs” that can only be fulfilled by, well, sex. But what really upsets me is the endless lying he does in order to “protect” Daffy and the kids. At one point towards the end of the book, G apparently has finally realized what he’s done wrong:
“He’d blown this trust thing with Daffy. He needed to earn it back and make sure he never did anything to lose the trust of any of his children. Ever.”
Unfortunately, he thinks this while he’s supposedly taking their 10-year-old daughter out for ice cream, but is instead using her to magically search a dangerous criminal’s house. And that is the whole problem with G. He seems incapable of actually telling Daffy the truth and he continuously puts the kids in harm’s way.
Overall, an interesting premise, but I cannot get past G’s infidelity and disrespect.