Brought to you by OBS reviewer Alina
*Beware of possible spoilers*
Emily Daggett is a 26 year old lecturer at the Ashburn college and in the words of her colleague Bernie Ballantine “a near-friendless workaholic”. Her specialty is the mythology and magical belief systems of a society, which in less complicated terms translates by: a big fan of fantasy stories. Alexander Hartgrave is 30 years old and plays the role of the college’s head of the IT department. He has the unfortunate job of repairing Emily’s computer when it breaks. Which happens all the time. No kidding. The moment she starts working on it, something goes wrong. You can imagine how frustrating that must feel for Hartgrave, especially when he knows why the computer keeps on breaking and that it has nothing to do with Emily’s computer skills. Then, one day, Emily falls asleep on Bernie’s sofa in their shared basement office of the college and wakes up to realize that someone has just walked past her and into one of the many dark corridors leading nowhere. Or so she thought.
I really wanted to love this book, but I only managed to like it. Barely. It’s a book about a young woman who grows up reading books about magic, hoping against all odds that one day she will meet a wizard who will teach her how to use a wand and become the greatest witch ever. Or something like that. Which is basically me and any other fan of fantasy books. When I read the synopsis, I immediately wanted to read it. It was the book for me. Unfortunately, I did not warm up to the story and definitely not to the main character. Gosh, she was so childish and annoying. Ok, I get it, you live your whole life hoping to meet the wizard of your dreams, so you could be a bit disappointed that instead of the white hair and pointy hat, you end up with a young, shaved-bald headed IT nerd. Hadn’t she heard of Mister Weasley?
I loved Bernie and Willi, though. Bernie is the resident medieval literature professor. The lovable old guy drives the faculty nuts until they allow him to move his office to the basement, has a statue of a gargoyle in his office, a comfy sofa and has put a sign on the entrance door to the basement quoting Dante’s ‘Inferno’:
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”
His good friend Willi is a German whose wife has been killed for trying to do magic and he has come to the States to train and get his revenge. I even liked Hartgrave, until he turned into a needy diva.
But the magic world? I didn’t see it. It was very simplistically drawn, like a kid’s sketch. I always felt like I should have read the first few books of the series or something. I would much more have preferred to skip some of the twists and turns of the plot, if that meant learning more details about the Organization and the Wizards and Convincers that we were supposed to like or dislike. There were many elements that were completely unconvincing, both in the world of the Ashburn college and that of the mean Organization Emily ends up battling. For example, Emily has a 1 year contract with Ashburn, as a lecturer, and struggles to make ends meet on a meagre salary. Eventually, she is forced to move and live on a sofa in the same basement where she has her college office. That because she had been renting a house, a whole house off-campus. Ha?
This is a book for grownup fantasy fans. It’s an easy read and it’s interesting to think how one would react faced with a flesh and blood magic user, who is also your co-worker. I must say I would definitely have enjoyed this book more as a Saturday night movie.