Book Review: Magicians Impossible by Brad Abraham
received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Series: Book 1/Stand Alone
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (September 12, 2017)
Length: 400 pages
Brad Abraham’s Magicians Impossible is a fascinating debut that blends together many genres, reading much like a magic school story for adults wrapped in a part-urban fantasy, part-spy thriller package. The novel stars protagonist Jason Bishop, a 30-year-old bartender from small town New York who has always felt deep in his heart that he was meant for bigger things. For many, such desires are nothing more than a pipe dream, but unbeknownst to Jason, the potential in him has always been in his blood.
Shortly after the apparent suicide of his estranged father Daniel, Jason discovers that he is actually the son of two very power magicians. Daniel, whose real name was actually Damon King, was a secret agent for the Invisible Hand, a secret coven of mages involved in an ancient war against another shadowy society of magic users called the Golden Dawn. After Jason was born, Damon had concocted a cover story so that the boy would never suspect his parents’ true identities, and then he distanced himself, becoming an aloof and absent father in order to keep his son hidden from his enemies.
As a result, Jason grew up harboring a deep resentment for Damon, knowing nothing about his family’s origins. The existence of a magical secret world was a shock to him, when at his father’s funeral, a mysterious stranger representing the Invisible Hand named Carter Block appeared before him and revealed everything about their order. Carter also told Jason the heartbreaking truth: Damon King did not really commit suicide—he was murdered. Now the Invisible Hand needs Jason on their side to strike back against the Golden Dawn and to complete the work his father started, hunting down a powerful artifact that could help turn the tide of this magical war. But first, to prepare him for the battles ahead, Jason will have to undergo and complete his secret agent mage training—and he’s got a lot of catching up to do.
From the start, I was impressed with the presentation of Magicians Impossible and was struck by how incredibly cinematic it was. If you’ve ever wished for more action in your urban fantasy, then this is the book for you. Hints of what to expect are in the title’s reference, which practically screams the kind of dynamic excitement and edge-of-your-seat thrills typically found in Mission Impossible or James Bond movies. In keeping with the comparisons to Hollywood blockbusters, however, one should not expect to go in finding anything too original in the novel’s plot either, though to Brad Abraham’s credit, he does a good job casting his own brand of magic on familiar ideas by combining them with other elements or sprucing them up with new and wild twists.
The flow of the novel is also relentlessly driven and fun, though like many debuts, the pacing does encounter unevenness in some places. Many new authors tend to become too enthusiastic with their first novels, biting off more than they can chew by trying to do too much, and I sense a mild case of that here. Things start to drag as we move into the second half of the book, following Jason as he is inducted into the Invisible Hand. This section was weighed down by too much exposition into the smaller details while not providing enough of the background information needed to understand the bigger picture, leaving me a bit confused as to ultimate purpose of these magical societies and their much flaunted all-important war. Abraham’s ideas are certainly ambitious, but perhaps his attention was spread too thin trying to juggle them all at once.
That said though, if you were drawn to this book by the promise of explosive action and riveting spycraft, I seriously doubt any of these issues will bother you. The flaws are also relatively trivial in the greater scheme of things, especially in a novel like Magicians Impossible which makes no bones about its prime objective—to entertain the reader above all else. While the plot might not be all that extravagant and the twists might be on the predictable side, these weaknesses are offset by the delectable fantasy elements, family drama, magical espionage, adrenaline-pumping fight sequences, and globetrotting adventure. I had a good time with this novel and hopefully Brad Abraham has plans for a sequel in the works, because I wouldn’t mind a chance to return to this world.