Innate Magic by Shannon Fay- Book review

Read my review of Innate Magic by Shannon Fay urban fantasy set in an alternate post-war London where magic is a commonplace activity.

Series: The Marrowbone Spells #1

Delightfully cheeky, unquestionably charming, and sometimes maddeningly naïve, cloth mage Paul Gallagher is desperately trying to make a name for himself in a reimagined post-war London. But in a world where magic is commonplace, sewing enchanted clothes is seen as little more than a frivolous distraction. Paul is hiding a secret, however: he possesses a powerful–and illegal–innate magic that could help him achieve his wildest dreams.

Unfortunately, Paul confides in the wrong person–his latest crush, Captain Hector Hollister–and is drawn into a sinister plot that risks reigniting the machinery of war. To make matters worse, the pretty American gossip reporter Paul just met reveals her personal quest to expose a government cover-up may be related to Hollister’s magical goals. When Hollister threatens the life of Paul’s dearest friend, he realizes that his poor judgement has put not only his family and friends in danger, but also the whole world.

The only way to set things right may be for Paul to undergo the dangerous ritual to become Court Magician–the most powerful magician in the country. But is becoming part of the institution the best way to enact change in a terribly unjust society? 

Goodreads blurb

Book review

Innate magic was my choice of Amazon first picks in November and I was hooked in by the blurb. It was an easy read and I finished this within one sitting.

 The book is written in the first person from Paul’s point of view and his voice is light, charming and funny but despite him ending in some perilous situations, I didn’t really care too much for him. I found the other characters more interesting and was more invested in their stories. Verity, the American journalist in a mission to find an evil Doctor and punish him for his wrongdoings was more nuanced and complicated as was Thomas Dawes, Paul’s adopted brother. Paul’s illegal innate magic was a bit of a let-down, I was expecting something dangerous and evil but not what it turned out to be. The magical system with cloth mages being able to create magic through clothes and bookbinders who create magic through books was well thought out and an interesting way to make magic more practical in its description.

The final chapter puts Thomas at the centre of the story and his voice was strong and more sympathetic, and I was disappointed that we hadn’t more from him earlier. I don’t think I would read more about Paul’s story I would definitely like to find out what Thomas does next.

There was a lot of subplots to keep track of. Paul seemed to have a talent for making one bad decision after another and was able to escape the consequences without learning from this. I could easily see him destroying the world without meaning too.

There was a lot of diversity and Lady Fife as an older seer was a welcome addition to a book full of young people( I would read a book about her controlling the fate of the world).

Content warning- there are some violent scenes but are in keeping with the story.

Perfect for fans

Who love urban fantasy with strong romantic undertones.


Three and three-quarter stars-I enjoyed the author’s style and writing and would read more books by her if they featured Thomas, Lady Fife or Verity but not so much Paul.

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