It's a Kind of Magic by Carole Matthews is a romance novel with a magical twist, as it is aptly named. The story, however, was not what I expected based on the blurb. The colourful, romantic and magical cover drew me in and promised intrigue. I couldn't wait to read it, but was I in for a surprise.
The magical element to this story felt forced and shallow. There was really very little point to it and certain occurrences, such as Emma's mysterious date, were never fully explained. While reading, you can almost predict the scenes which compelled the author to pen this as they are beautifully described and are not quite as rushed as the rest of it. Both of these scenes are magical and explains the presence of Isobel in this book.
There were a few attempts at humour but these felt contrived. There is a skill to writing comedy and sadly, Carole Matthews does not have it. They were tired, old jokes and the speech would feel like it was put there specifically so she could slip the joke in somewhere. They were not funny, clever or entertaining. Grant and Lard (whose real name no one can recall) are supposed to be the funny side characters, there to relieve the tension. However, when they are told outright what Isobel is and then ignore the impossible things that happen in front of their eyes, they quickly become the bumbling fools.
I developed little attachment to the characters and so found it difficult to care about what happened to them. I forced myself to read this because I hate leaving books unfinished. Leo was the stereotypical boyfriend who loves alcohol and partying, yet has a messy house and a lazy demeanour. Emma is the stereotypical over controlling, perfectionist girlfriend. This made the characters unlikeable, annoying and flat. Whereas Leo shows some magical character development, Emma barely changes. She will acknowledge that perhaps she is not perfect and may have contributed to the problems in the relationship, and the next she will be as stubborn, snobby and dominating as ever. The characters are inconsistent as Emma tries to surprise Leo to win him back, but her surprise is extreme and completely unlike her character. Leo makes the biggest change but again, this will differ between scenes.
And then there is the character of Isobel. She was basically a magical sex icon. Men treated her like an object and the only thing she had to establish herself as a character was her magic and the fact that she left glitter everywhere all the time. Other than having magic, who is she? Her reason for coming to Leo was shallow and yet Leo was obsessed with her immediately. The finale was disappointing when Leo still seems to be in love with, and unwilling to leave, Isobel, and so Emma becomes second prize. How insulting is that to every woman who isn't a gorgeous, magical creature?
The story was a quick, fairly easy read as Matthew's writing style was simple yet engaging. Emma's chapters were written in first person narrative whereas Leo's were in third person. Emma is therefore narrating this tale, yet Leo has more focus, and also cannot tell Emma what actually happened while they were separated but he promised to reveal his story when they were old; so either this was Emma retelling the story when she's old or this was a missed point. If Emma is retelling the story when old, from what Leo has told her, how reliable is the story really?
Matthews wrote incredibly irritating and shallow characters whose back story she clearly came up with on the spot and followed through with for lack of a more imaginative idea. The concept was fascinating and enough to make me pick up the book and push myself to read it, but it was nothing like I expected from the cover and blurb and was a disappointment. I feel like this was a missed opportunity. Do I regret reading it? No. Despite the bad characters and highly flawed story, such as Leo telling his best two 'lad' friends about Isobel's magic despite expressly being told not and them missing out obvious clues, it was an enjoyable read if you can pull yourself away from the ridiculousness of it. But then, what did I expect when I bought it as part of a 'six for £10' deal?