Tuesday, 14 September 2010

May Contain Traces of Magic Review

May Contain Traces of Magic
- Tom Holt

Publisher: UK – Orbit

There are all kinds of products. The good ones. The bad ones. The ones that stay in the garage mouldering for years until your garden gnome makes a home out of them. Most are harmless if handled properly, even if they do contain traces of peanuts. But some are not. Not the ones that contain traces of magic. Chris Popham wasn't paying enough attention when he talked to his SatNav. Sure, she gave him directions, never backtalked him, and always led him to his next spot on the map with perfect accuracy. She was the best thing in his life. So was it really his fault that he didn't start paying attention when she talked to him? In his defence, that was her job. But when 'Take the next right' turned into 'Excuse me,' that was when the real trouble started. Because sometimes a SatNav isn't a SatNav. Sometimes it's an imprisoned soul trapped inside a metal box that will do anything it can to get free. And some products you just can't return.

Tom Holt has written in the these area of comic fantasy for years and he’s one of those authors that I occasionally find myself picking up in order to read something slightly different. The last few books he’s written has combined a boring, normal job in a world where magic can happen, your boss can be a goblin and at any point you might be trapped in a repeating loop. This books follows a similar theme with the ‘hero’ Chris a salesman trying to flog rubbish magical items to real magic shops. (I use the inverted marks over hero as Tom Holt’s heroes tend to be less heroic than just lazy, useless or just plain ordinary. It’s this ordinariness that tends to make Holt’s book sparkle as anyone can relate to the boring office job with repetitive tasks. This time though something was a little lacking for me. Some of the observations were spot on, while a lot failed to hit the mark for me. What kept me reading was the intriguing stop involving continual demon attacks and how Chris was involved. However when I got to end of teh novel, a lot still failed to add up for me. The Sat Nav bit seemed interesting at first but that plot point fizzled out and didn’t really go anywhere. While the ending was sweet, the separate points didn’t make a complete picture and I felt slightly cheated that the plot was a bit incoherent. Overall, this was a different read but not one I’ll remember in a few weeks.

Recommended for fans of Terry Prachett and KE Mills – but I’d read Tom Holt’s The Portable Door first. No real relation to the characters here but it was a better book! 5 out of 10

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