I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey
Narrator: Amanda Dolan
Published by Tantor Audio on March 23, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Young Adult
Length: 9 hours 54 minutes
A teen girl accidentally kills a classmate on prom night with her magic, and she and her best friends must try to use their powers to bring him back or face the consequences. Graduation is coming up fast, and the girls will have to navigate a complicated tangle of friendship, love, lust... and now, thanks to Alexis' mistake, murder.
My top thoughts:
I thought this was going to be so much more than it was. Another read that had tons of potential but really didn’t deliver for me.
What I liked/didn’t like:
First, the potential that wasn’t fully realized:
- The friendships – we have this group of girls who have bonded over their magical abilities. Supposedly their friendship is this deep, amazing thing. But it failed to really make me feel that at any point. Maybe there were too many of them to show a deep friendship within the confines of 1 book?
- The diversity – one of the characters is Muslim. Another (besides the Muslim girl) has dark skin (I can’t recall her ethnicity/race). The main character is being raised by two dads and she doesn’t define her sexuality – she’s been interested in both men and women, but isn’t ready to say that she’s bi or gay or pansexual. There are a couple moments where I felt like the author was going to really leverage this diversity and she got super close to showing the nuance. But maybe there was just too much going on – it wasn’t bad, it was pretty good in fact. It just had the potential to be GREAT.
- The magic – the magic is super interesting, but maybe because the characters themselves aren’t really sure how everything works, it ends up being very hazy and confusing. I never really understood exactly how everything works (and neither do the characters honestly). Maybe that’s the point – they’re still learning and growing – but for me it was another potential great detail.
And the not-so-good: The whole story is based on the fact that the main character accidentally killed a boy with her magic. And the way the girls dealt with it just got worse and worse. Here’s a boy who’s only crime was making out with Alexis (finally remembered her name!) and realizing that she’s nervous so backing off and giving her space. Basically, doing exactly what he should do. And because she doesn’t understand his magic, he’s dead. Their attempt to fix this accidental murder is the plot of the book and I don’t want to spoil the ending, but personally I wasn’t satisfied with the resolution at all.
The shining gem in this book was the narration. I’ve never listened to Amanda Dolan before, but I would not hesitate to pick up another book she narrated, she delivered distinct voices and personalities for all the characters. I probably would not have finished this, if it weren’t for her narration