ARC Review: The Other Side of Magic

Author: Ester Manzini

Publication Date: April 6, 2021

Length: 362 pages

Read Date(s): May 1, 2021 – May 5, 2021


Goodreads Synopsis

A revolution is brewing.

Everyone within the realms of Epidalio and Zafiria is born with magic. However, it is also true that for every spell each and every magic-user casts, their innate abilities begin to slowly wane until their power is feeble and depleted.

True, that is, for almost everyone.

Princess Gaiane Asares of Zafiria is the result of a nearly perfect genetic union. Harnessing royal and magical lineage in her conception, the princess was born infinitely powerful and with no limits upon her magic. Sequestered in a lonesome tower as her strength is used against her will to conquer the land of Epidalio, she must find a way to fight against her captors.

Elsewhere within the realms, Leo—a commoner—was born with no magic at all. Except for her brain, wits, and her own anger, she must confront the circumstances thrown at her without the magical gifts that so many take for granted.

THE OTHER SIDE OF MAGIC is a diverse fantasy filled with action and adventure that is sure to pull you in and hold you fast through each twist and turn!

My Review

***Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are my honest assessment of the book.***

The premise of this book sounded so fascinating. The magic system had me intrigued and the story of a princess designed as a weapon who escapes and turns on her captors, who also happen to be her parents, seemed really cool. But I did NOT like this book. It actually put me in somewhat of a reading slump because I dreaded having to read more of it. I hate DNFing books, but the only reason I finished this one is I wanted to give feedback via NetGalley to help improve my percentage there. If I had gotten this book from anywhere else, I would not have finished it.

As mentioned earlier, the idea for the story is a really good one, and the first chapter was gripping and set the stage well for a good novel. I did like the magic system, and the author described the use of the magic really well. However, one of the main problems with the book was the limited prevalence of magic throughout and a lack of depth regarding how magic functioned in this world. I really wanted more info about it and to see it used more often throughout the book. The story also took a quick downhill turn after the first chapter. The plot was rather predictable and not very interesting. Perhaps the most frustrating part for me is that even after reading I still don’t know why they created the super-powerful princess other than the nebulous need for more power and domination, which fell flat to me as a rationale.

The characters were also pretty flat, and some of them were so bad they made me want to quit reading. The princess, in particular, was annoying and whiny throughout the book. She was entitled and cried at the drop of a hat, which I wasn’t expecting since she was supposedly the most powerful person in the kingdom and a captive her entire life. Her character became marginally less awful as the book progressed but not much. I found the relationship between her and the other girl, Leo, to be rushed and not very believable. I love queer representation in books, but I like it to be done well. That being said, I did like the diversity in queer representation in this book; I just wish their relationship had been more believable. My favorite character in this book was Evandro. He was the most well-rounded and exhibited the most character development. I enjoyed his redemption story from fallen knight to hero, and his budding relationship with the fun Ampelio was also a highlight.

The story really had an opportunity to explore some very powerful themes, especially grief, the aftermath of trauma, and taking back power after being manipulated and abused. However, none of this was covered very well, with the exception of Evandro’s part of the story.

The worst thing about this book was the writing. It was choppy and clunky. The ARC I received is also the worst-edited copy of a book I have read in my life. It seemed like there were grammar or spelling errors in almost every other sentence. These problems made the book very difficult to read and repeatedly pulled me out of the story to try to figure out what the author was trying to say. I hope the final version of the book received several more rounds of edits beyond the copy I received because it desperately needed it.

Overall, this book was not an enjoyable experience. The unique magic system, diverse queer rep, and Evandro are the only things that keep it from being a one star book for me. Therefore, I rate it 2 out of 5 stars.