Review: Sufficiently Advanced Magic by Andrew Rowe

Published by: self-published
ASIN: B06XBFD7CB
ISBN: 1521118760
ISBN 13: 9781521118764
Published: February 2017
Pages: 621
Format reviewed: mobi
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Three out of Five

Read for the SPFBO, this is the third book I dove into once we had our shortlist of ten. I was looking forward to this one, as others had given it decent scores

The book starts by introducing us to Corin, who is the latest in his family to attempt to pass the tower, which will gain him magical powers as his parents were found worthy of, before him. The same tower that swallowed up his brother and never really revealed what it did with him. Corin wants many things – to pass the tower, to be deemed worthy, for all of his years of training to have been worth it… but also to find out what happened to his brother.

What slows down the start though is how he over analyses absolutely everything. It took me a week to get to 5% because any room that he has to pass takes forever, and it didn’t hold my interest. For all his over analysis he then seemed to sometimes make some questionable decisions, which you can understand when in such a life or death situation but then why the heck did I have to read the past dozen paragraphs?

That said, I did like him being overly analytical, as it makes for a bookish protagonist rather than a brave sword-swinging sort. I liked his sister, Sara. I liked that relationships were treated in this fairly dismissively and not a lot was made of them – gay main character and everyone moves on? Excellent.

I didn’t like the father, who felt a little forced and over-dramatic. I feel this book could be highly excellent with a harsh editor and get the book down to a neat 400 or so pages, stripping back the info-dumping, and get it all a little more fluid. What really slows this down is how right at the start he even questions the magic book about his brother, but then stalls soon after and just follows the law and twiddles his thumbs rather than continuing on for his brother – what could have possibly worked better is if he doesn’t find out much at all and it’s simply something that drives him in general… but he doesn’t learn enough to actually know his brother is still somewhere, and where, until he’s able to actually do what he says he wants to, and save his brother.

The last fifth of the book is really quite excellent, and almost makes up for the rest of it. Almost. This book has a shitload of promise, and some very excellent and hilarious lines, but the writing in the first half seriously let it down.