In the second book of the Fairy Tale Enchantress series, K.M. Shea follows the adventures of Apprentice Angelique, Enchantress-in-Training, who is left adrift after the kidnap of her instructor Enchanter Evariste.
Evariste for his part must resist losing hope as he remains trapped, memories of Angelique keeping him from giving into despair.
Warning: Here Be Potential Spoilers for the Timeless Fairy Tale series
K.M. Shea’s first series, the Timeless Fairy Tales series, sets the scene of a continent in despair. As the various kingdoms, royals, and mages residing in mythical locations such as Ringsted, Loire, and Sole cope with frequent black magic attacks, Enchantress-in-Training (more often called Lady Enchantress) Angelique appeared just in time to save the day. The Fairy Tale Enchantress series is a follow up story, told from Angelique’s perspective primarily with chapters from her instructor, Enchanter Evariste’s, as well.
Curse of Magic is the second book in the series, picking up after the attack on Angelique and Evariste that separates the pair and causes immense grief and turmoil in the magical world. Angelique is frustrated by the slow progress the Veneno Conclave, a bureaucratic magic user society, is making in tracking down Evariste. But her attempts at following up on recent black magic continually see her in trouble with the Conclave who fear her powerful magic.
I think that in some ways, Curse of Magic is a stronger and weaker novel than the first in the series. The pacing is hard to handle sometimes. There are chapters that begin with months or even years skipped over in order to pass from event to event. The events of the entire Timeless Fairy Tale series aren’t addressed, but a fair amount of them are which explains why frequent time gaps must be rushed.
The times when Angelique’s interactions with the Timeless Fairy Tales cast of characters are detailed can also become frustrating. Some scenes are ones we didn’t get the chance to see in the original story, whereas others are borrowed word for word (with the addition of Angelique’s internal monologue) in a way that can become quite boring. While it’s clear that Shea means for the readers of this series to already be familiar with Angelique’s work as an Enchantress, there is still an element of explanation included just in case someone has managed to skip the entire Timeless Fairy Tales series (or just enough of the books).
The book very much focuses on Angelique’s character growth, which is easily its strongest appeal. Angelique in the Timeless Fairy Tales is powerful, sarcastic, and headstrong. Angelique in the Fairy Tale Enchantress series is putting on a meek and fragile front in an attempt to placate the mages that fear her powerful war magic. It was lovely to finally see some of their underestimation of her pay off (as well as with the series antagonist, who is surprisingly not the Council). The ending of the novel moved the fastest, felt the strongest narratively, and gave the most satisfaction. Perhaps a little more attention could have been paid to that build up than to rehashing scenes from the first half of the Timeless Fairy Tales series…
Nevertheless, with the readers knowing how Angelique will come to find Evariste and the suspense created by the revelation of his captors, I can honestly say I’m still excited to see what Shea has in store next!