For years she has worked to keep her dangerous magic a secret, but the new assignment she’s been given by the clandestine society she belongs to—which is devoted to protecting magic worldwide—threatens to blow her cover. Raven is charged with locating a priceless cauldron hidden in the magical and infamous Saint Cloud Library while going undercover as a gum snapping, skirt wearing flake-of-a-girl. She finds her persona nearly impossible to keep as her teenage coworkers—in particular the twins Asher and Aron Montamos—do everything in their power to drive her away from the weakening library.
K.M. Shea is one of my favorite authors so I jump at the chance to read any book by her I come across. Unfortunately Life Reader isn’t one of my top picks from her impressive collection of works.
I did enjoy the book. I liked the characters a lot and the modern day setting with a hidden magical society operating under everyday people’s noses was also fun to read. And what can I say, Raven has the ability to literally bring to life whatever she reads. Best magical ability ever! Hands down that is my new dream super power! Oh and most of the book takes place in a library, you just can’t get any better than that.
So why didn’t I like it more? I felt the story lacked a little polish I guess.
Even though the main characters were all in high school the book felt middle-grade to me. Their interactions and banter were just a little more on the younger side. For example Raven’s love interest is so awkward around her and has no idea how to tell her his feelings. To try and gain her attentions he buys her candy, holds her hand at any excuse and attempts to monopolize her time. It really comes off as cute but just a few years younger than what the characters are supposed to be.
Another thing that brought the story down was the world building. The idea is good and I liked how magic worked in this book. Everyone has a main magical affinity and then a secondary, usually elemental, magic ability. Raven’s main affinity is book/library magic (yes library magic is a thing and now I want it). Her second affinity is ice magic, though she is horrible at it. But not much is explained beyond this about how magic works or how you discover your particular magical affinity. The book even talks about different levels of certification for magic, Raven is a level three I think. There are classes you have to take and internships to reach higher levels, but here again the concept is a bit vague and never fully explained.
Like I stated before, the book could have used a little more polish. (I also have to say Kingdom Quest is NOT a good name for any kind of government, magical or otherwise. It’s like something 4Chan came up with.)
All in all I did really like the characters and world and I would definitely recommend this book, though I would also point you in the direction of K.M. Shea’s other books as well. There are plans to eventually expand Life Reader into a series so I look forward to reading more. Perhaps the ideas started in this book will be more fleshed out in the next one. (Though K.M. Shea’s website says that could take years.)