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Historical Fantasy Audiobook Review: Magic & Manners by C.E. Murphy

Magic & Manners by C.E. Murphy (Austen Chronicle #1)

audio copy courtesy of Audible Studios

Synopsis from Goodreads
It is a truth universally accepted that well-bred members of society are not beleaguered with magic. For Elsabeth Dover and her sisters, that truth means living in a perpetual state of caution, never using their sorcerous gifts in public. Elsabeth chafes under the stricture, although not enough to risk the possibility of good marriages for her sisters...until she meets handsome, arrogant Fitzgerald Archer. Elsabeth, attracted to Archer's wit and offended by his manner, strives to keep her impetuous youngest sister's use of magic in check so that their eldest sister, Rosamund, might find happiness with Archer's wealthy friend, Mr. Webber. But when Elsa fails to keep young Leopoldina in line, Archer's disapproval of the family taint means an abrupt end to Rosamund's hopes and leads to a terrible discovery about the price of magic.... 

Audible US/UK


* * *
 Yet again I have to characterize a book as "nice", and it's killing me to say so. It's a nice read, peeps, but it doesn't deliver much excitement. It's pretty much Pride & Prejudice with a couple of different twists and a tiny bit of magic to spice things up. Overall it's a failed promise of all the things it could have been.

It might be just a tiny personal grudge on my behalf, but if you are creating a universe with alternative history of 19th century England where magic while still frowned upon in high society, is real and practiced, you might want to make it a bigger part of the plot.

Instead we are going through the phases of Pride & Prejudice with slightly changed names and slightly changed plot where here and there magic is thrown in to encourage the characters to think and act beyond what's expected of them.

I was surprised by it because I picked this book up solely on the strength of C.E. Murphy's name. I remember her urban fantasy as gritty and dark, and I at least expected some sort of reflection of it in Magic & Manners.

Alas, it's merely a pleasant read, but if you crave something a bit stronger and more twisted, try Sorcerer to The Crown or Shades of Milk and Honey instead. 

Magic & Manners is quiet and unassuming and perfectly lovely. The characterization is full of depth and charm. I actually enjoyed all the sisters, and their friends and admirers.The countryside descriptions are idyllic and come to life easily while listening to the superb narrator. If you like your alternative history not to became a historical fantasy with  paranormal elements, this book will be more to your liking. Unfortunately, I am used to stronger stuff in my fiction, and I found it lacking.

Still, recommended, with some reservations.
 * * *
И снова мне приходится прикусить язык и просто назвать книгу "милой", в том плане, что она не вызывает каких-либо сильных чувств. По большей части, Магия и Манеры - немного изменённый пересказ Гордости и Предубеждения с горстью магии, рассыпанной тут и там, чтобы его немного оживить. В общем, это история потерянного потенциала.

Вполне возможно, что это моя личная проблема, однако я считаю, что если автор решился создать альтернативную историю Англии 19-го века с практикующейся магией, и назвал свою книгу Магия и Манеры, то 50% этой книги должно быть посвящено магии... Вместо этого, магия - это костыль, на который герои опираются не больше пары-тройки раз, когда они отходят от общего сюжета Гордости и Предубеждения.

Я согласилась прорецензировать эту книгу чисто из-за имени автора. Я помню, что С.И. Мёрфи пишет тёмноё, жёсткое городское фэнтези, и я ожидала похожего стиля в этой книге. Однако, мне не повезло! Магия и Манеры - мила, полна жиповисных пейзажей и очаровательных характеров, да и сама рассказчица прекрасна, однако она больше подходит любителям исторических романов без примеси паранормала. Если вам нужно что-то пожёстче или поярче, попробуйте "Оттенки Молока и Мёда" или "Чародей Короны".

В общем, рекомендую, но с большими колебаниями.

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