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Reign of Magic by KM Shea, Review

In the third installment of the Fairy Tale Enchantress series Enchantress-in-training Angelique has bucked the control of the Veneno Conclave and is now working with familiar friends such as Stil the craftmage and Prince Severin of Loire. It is becoming clearer that the entire continent is under attack from evil mages, and Angelique’s integral role in thwarting these mages has not gone unnoticed.

What is Reign of Magic about?

As discussed in my review of the beginnings of the Fairy Tale Enchantress series by KM Shea, this series is a follow up to the Timeless Fairy Tales series and follows the training and subsequent involvement in the continent by Enchantress-in-Training Angelique. Angelique, often the deux ex machina and hero of the previous series, is far more complicated in this series which reveals her origins as a soldier’s daughter and scapegoat for the Veneno Conclave.

This particular installment in the series picks up where the second one left off with Angelique’s travels across the continent, the characters she meets along the way, and the convening of a summit (featured in book six of the Timeless Fairy Tale series) by the royals of various countries in an attempt to get to the bottom of the plague of evil mages they have suffered.

Genre: YA Fantasy

Like most of Shea’s books, this series is a YA focused fantasy series. Whereas the Timeless Fairy Tales series was focused mostly on fairy tale retellings, Angelique’s series is focused on building up the magic system of Shea’s world as well as introducing lore established in the Snow Queen series, which acts as a prequel to the fairy tales.

Plot: Tension Building

In my review of the previous book in the series, I discussed the way events were happening too quickly and without a lot of payoff. This book really solves that problem by both spending time on Angelique’s activities in a better paced narrative and beginning to lay down the plot threads for the big reveal that happens towards the end of the Timeless Fairy Tales series. Going into this series, we already know about the Chosen and who they are. We already know about the mirror at their disposal. But this novel really does a good job of driving that plot in a mysterious way that keeps the reader hooked.

Tropes: “Strong” female character

The quote marks might be a bit unfair because Angelique is a good, well-written, female character. This book just happens to start to play up more and more of the emphasis on how powerful she is. In the first two books, she spends a lot of time pretending to be meek and docile thinking that this will convince other mages that despite the depth of her power–and her potentially dangerous core magic–she is just like them. Having decided this is a waste of her energy, Angelique engages in far more impressive displays of her true power and might. Despite this, she obstinately refuses to acknowledge that she might be this generations Snow Queen.

The Good

While I didn’t have much to complain about in the previous installment of the series, what I didn’t like was thoroughly addressed in this novel. This series will be several more books long, and seems to have finally caught up with that fact and stopped compressing the events of the Timeless Fairy Tales into quick chapters with little payoff. More time was spent on the events that are addressed, and there was less regurgitating of the original books’ lines and word-for-word scenes. Angelique also got to enjoy some additional adventures that fit into the story quite nicely.

The Okay

Some of the dramatic irony is hard to read, not because it’s poorly done but because so much is already known going into this series. Shea recommends having read the first series before tackling this one, so we already know about the Chosen, the mirror, the dagger, and so many other things that were introduced to Angelique in this novel. Not too much lingering was done on what we already know, thankfully, but some conclusions were jumped to a bit quickly. Some characters that probably could have shown more resistance to the ideas being presented were quick to agree with the premise, probably because it’s hard to imagine them not agreeing to something previously established as fact.

The Bad

I almost put this in the Okay section, but it is officially starting to be too much. The romance. The romance between Angelique and Evariste. (Minor spoiler warning.)

The Timeless Fairy Tales series was clearly focused on romance (something Angelique hilariously points out in confusion, calling the current generation of royalty “love sick”) and made sense for it. Each book consistently built up a romantic story. The Snow Queen series focused on the major conflicts in ancient Verglas, with the romantic subplot given appropriate time to develop but not so much focus that it overthrew the main plot.

Throughout the first series, you get a sense that there’s a bit more between Angelique and Evariste than just an apprenticeship. This is heavily confirmed in the first book of the series where Evariste clearly has feelings for Angelique. Despite this, it took three books for Evariste to realize this. Angelique is still not clued in (which works for her character in all honesty).

What’s really starting to bother me is that before, Evariste’s feelings were at least obvious enough but his circumstances dire enough that fine, it made sense he wasn’t focusing on soul searching. Now, though, his feelings are becoming the reason that Angelique is such a badass. Her curse breaking is being tied up with their feelings for one another, and though it’s an interesting idea that does help alleviate the weirdness of the importance of romantic love in every single curse encounter, it kind of invalidates how impressive Angelique is for breaking all of these curses.

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed this book much more than the previous one. I thought it was helped by being significantly longer than Shea’s usual works, the pacing was much better, and Angelique letting down her charade helps her character quite a bit. I enjoyed seeing some of the research going into finding the Chosen, and getting a bit more of the lore. I also liked the “screentime” given to some of my favorite characters such as Odette and Stil.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of the lore and the battle with the Chosen. This is definitely what enticed me to read this series in the first place (aside from the fact that I enjoy Shea’s writing) so now that we’re moving into that portion of the series’ narrative I’m full of anticipation for the next release!

By Catherine

I'm a lover of books, coffee, wine, and bees. Happy to join the ranks of book bloggers everywhere!

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