Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


Modern Magic

by Anne Cordwainer

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2915728,121 (3.43)4
  1. 00
    Click by David Almond (Jenson_AKA_DL)
    Jenson_AKA_DL: Both books are told in episodic form and I believe fans of one will certainly enjoy the other.

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 4 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Set in a clunky episodic story-frame and very heavy with the dialogue, plus I found the characters inconsistent and unbelievable. The whole book reads like tiny vignette peeks into the head of one or another point-of-view, with no grounding at all into the world the book is set in, and no backbone to span the stories. It read like a college student's first attempt at building a novel. Weak weak weak.

The author has posted the first five chapters of this story up on her website, and I'd recommend giving them a read to see if this writing style suits you before obtaining a copy of the book. I feel a bit bad about disliking this book so strongly; the author seems really cool.

It's worth noting that I read an ARC edition. It's possible that the final publication has been improved. ( )
  noneofthis | Jun 15, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
The first chapter of this book had me wanting to rip my eyeballs out. It was horribly written, the characters were annoying (especially Liz) and it seemed too much like the author was trying to create an Americanized Harry Potter. DO NOT WORRY, it gets MUCH better throughout the book. Modern Magic takes on its own personality and is able to separate itself from any Harry Potter similarities. Half-way through the book, you'll probably think you have everything figured out...keep reading, trust me; it's worth it ;) ( )
  benuathanasia | Mar 26, 2010 |
I love this book! I mean L-O-V-E this book! Reminiscent of the story-cycles of Charles deLint, Cordwainer captures a unique urban fantasy setting throughout the series of stories. 'Modern Magic' tells the tale of two siblings- one (John) with magical powers, the other (Liz) without. The viewpoint changes between the two, giving the reader a great look into the minds of both siblings. The magic in this book is not your fluffy kid's magic- it's dark and dangerous! The evil wizards and spells encountered by John and Liz are frightening and powerful- and poor Liz doesn't even have magic to protect her! One thing I loved especially about 'Modern Magic' is all the cool magical gizmos that John and his friends use. These devises set Cordwainer apart from most urban fantasy authors I've read. However, I do think she could have explained their uses more thoroughly. I think if the magic system is exlpained a little better to the reader that this could be a very popular series of books (it had better become a series!!). As a reader I felt a little confused over the limits of the magic. Exactly what can magic do? We get some great examples, but no one ever sits us down and gives us the rules. What CAN'T magic do? What do all the magic devises do- and how? Cordwainer could easily take a character like Liz's non-magic boyfriend and have magic explained to the readers through him. Even with the workings of magic a little fuzzy, this book was great. As a huge fantasy fan I devoired 'Modern Magic' in two sittings. I hope that Cordwainer gets a chance to see her book on bookshelves at stores all over the country, because I feel it deserves to be there- and that people would be missing out on something great if it wasn't.
  GondorGirl | Aug 12, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It's an interesting idea. It's not well-executed. The over-arching story is quite interesting, but the "story cycle" format means the reader is forced to change gears just when the story starts really going somewhere. Instead of a cohesive tale, one is left with a disjointed but definitely connected pile of almost-story.

Cordwainer appears to have come up with the nifty outline of a story, but apparently she never felt up to the transitions that would actually hold the outline together into an actual novel. This might work in episodic TV; it doesn't work in novel format.

Did Cordwainer never hear "show 'em, don't tell 'em"? Because she's very high on the telling, very low on the showing. We're told where the siblings work, but we don't actually see them at work. We're told they're in love with various people, but there's precious little evidence of any love. (The major exceptions are in the little behaviors behind John and his wife, but those don't appear until the last few episodes.)

Overall, I'm giving it two stars for an interesting concept. The execution keeps it from any more. ( )
1 vote moniqueleigh | Mar 31, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I've been a fan of "urban fantasy" since before I knew it had a name. Sometime in middle school I left behind the “high fantasy” of wizards and dragons, having developed a preference for science fiction’s starships and aliens, but I never lost my taste for stories of the supernatural set in the modern world we live in. Most Stephen King fits into this niche, as well as Alan Dean Foster’s Into the Out Of, which involves the demons known to the African Masai tribe as “shetani”. And when I discovered Charles DeLint a few years ago, I was in fantasy heaven. So Anne Cordwainer’s Modern Magic is right up my alley. The premise is similar to that of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series: that magic-users live among us in secret.

The novel, called “a story cycle” on the cover, is comprised of “episodes” that span a decade from 1998 to 2009. The first-person narrative alternates between Liz Prospero, the only non-magical daughter of a renowned sorcerous family (Rowling would call her a “squib”), and her brother John, who is graduating from sorcerer college at the beginning of the book. As the story progresses, Cordwainer’s world-building comes into focus as each episode deals with renegade sorcerers abusing their power and how they are dealt with by the rest of the magical community. For centuries sorcerers have relied on the “family honor” system to keep themselves ethical, with apprehended miscreants being turned over to their families for discipline. But with the sorcerer population having grown, magical crime is on the rise and the system of “family honor” is proving inadequate to the task – some begin to believe that the community must come together and organize a formal justice system for sorcerers before the entire magical world devolves into anarchy. There is apparently more to this setting than the novel alone; an end note after the story advises the reader to check annecordwainer.com for more stories in the same world as well as details about events only briefly described as back story in the novel.

While the novel’s episodes appear at first to be stand-alone stories, they develop an arc in which incidents involving criminal sorcerers escalate in seriousness until the situation seems almost hopeless. Admittedly I’m not the most perceptive reader, but the writer kept me in the dark enough that I did not see the reveal of the villain coming, though it was set up fairly early in the novel. The characters have their own development arcs as well: Liz at first wants as little to do with her family as possible, resenting their superior power and her own apparent inadequacy, but by the end she accepts her family and her place in it, and realizes that she has something to contribute to sorcerer society despite her own lack of magical ability. John has great power but is cautious to a fault about the possibility of abusing it; he slowly grows to find confidence both in his power and his judgment.

Overall I’m satisfied with the book; I enjoyed the read (which occupied most of an afternoon, about four or five hours) and on a five-star scale I’d give it four. I reserve five-star ratings for the truly sublime, but Modern Magic is pretty damn good. Nicely done, Cordwainer (if that is your real name); I’m interested to see what you turn out next. ( )
1 vote Theta9 | Mar 29, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Everyone in my family, except me, is a sorcerer.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alum

Anne Cordwainer's book Modern Magic was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (3.43)
1 1
2 1
2.5 1
3 4
3.5 1
4 4
4.5 1
5 2

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 180,304,640 books! | Top bar: Always visible