Beyond Magic
Susan Kearney et al.
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Buy *Beyond Magic* by Susan Kearney, Kassandra Sims and Elaine Cunningham online

Beyond Magic
Susan Kearney, Kassandra Sims and Elaine Cunningham
304 pages
August 2008
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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As with most anthologies, in Beyond Magic you get a bit of a mixed bag. The first short story, 'The Shimmering' by Susan Kearney, is enjoyable despite the too-unlikely-to-believe premise, even for a paranormal story, driven by good plot (if you can ignore how unlikely it is!) and good if a little sketchily drawn characters were also good, if a little sketchily drawn.. Some rather convenient bits woven into the story make it all wrap up nicely, but I did enjoy reading it and learning of a new world where weather is controlled by a stolen magic totem and where our heroine has to impersonate someone else and tame a much-feared warrior.

Elaine Cunningham's story 'Beyond Dreams' is also fairly good. With a rather large cast of characters I didn't feel I entirely got into the head of any of them, except perhaps for Cassie, the heroine. Cassie finds herself reconnecting with her former fiancé, Nick, after he confesses to some murders - for which he has complete alibis. The reason Nick and Cassie broke up was because his rational, scientific mind couldn't believe in her psychic skills; however, Nick is beginning to discover that he, too, has some spooky talents. Can Nick and Cassie work together to discover who is murdering young people? The well-constructed main plot is underpinned by some side-plots about various family members which work well. However, the romance side of the tale is fairly underplayed, and I was never entirely sure why Cassie left Nick originally.

The third story is 'Hill and Sky' by Kassandra Sims. I've read two full-length novels by her and really not liked them; unfortunately, the same goes for this short story. She has an interesting writing style and a good way with words, but I can never really tell what's going on. I can't follow the plot properly, and I find my attention wandering.

The story is nominally about a witch who finds herself involved in a quest to safeguard someone magical, despite her general apathy about this kind of thing, but the plot is obscured by too many random people wandering in and out of the story doing random things. No doubt some readers get on well with Sims' writing, but I'm not one of them. It rather spoiled the book for me, as it left it on a rather low note. The first two stories are worth reading, but I'd give the third a miss.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Helen Hancox, 2008

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