Alyssa McCarthy is a young girl who has tragically lost both parents. She is living with her cousin and Uncle when she discovers that an evil magician from Fiji wants to kidnap her so that he can rule France? The premise was certainly imaginative, but not very believable.
From this point on, the reader is taken on an adventure that, at times, is strange and a little illogical. Numerous obstacles are thrown in Alyssa’s path only to be overcome with yet another ‘magical rule’. And this is perhaps my biggest issue with this novel.
Magic doesn’t have to be plausible, but it must be consistent. Magic needs to follow firm rules – and an author is better off keeping these simple. There are too many times when Alyssa is saved, or hindered, by yet another magical rule – and it becomes so complicated that there is no way the reader can keep up. Creating magical surprises out of the blue to save or harm the characters is the fictional equivalent of pulling a rabbit out of a hat. The rules of magic need to be established at the beginning of the novel. Then, the characters must stick by those rules, even if it is difficult.
And, unfortunately, because of the use of magic in the novel, the narrative is not believable. Great fantasy asks us to accept the fiction. In this novel, I just couldn’t do that. No matter how hard I tried.
The description and use of language in this novel are also difficult. I also didn’t believe the reactions of the characters – in particular the adults. Most of the adults, when confronted with the proof of magic, took it in their stride. I’m not sure I would have been so calm.