by Kelly Powell
Narrator: Karissa Vacker
Length: 5 hours and 56 minutes
Genres: Historical, Fantasy
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Narration: 4 cups Speed: 1.5x
The Bone Witch meets Sherlock Holmes in this thrilling historical fantasy about a girl with the ability to raise the dead who must delve into her city’s dangerous magical underworld to stop a series of murders.
Catherine Daly has an unusual talent. By day she works for a printer. But by night, she awakens the dead for a few precious moments with loved ones seeking a final goodbye. But this magic comes with a price: for every hour that a ghost is brought back, Catherine loses an hour from her own life.
When Catherine is given the unusual task of collecting a timepiece from an old grave, she is sure that the mysterious item must contain some kind of enchantment. So she enlists Guy Nolan, the watchmaker’s son, to help her dig it up. But instead of a timepiece, they find a surprise: the body of a teenage boy. And as they watch, he comes back to life—not as the pale imitation that Catherine can conjure, but as a living, breathing boy. A boy with no memory of his past.
This magic is more powerful than any Catherine has ever encountered, and revealing it brings dangerous enemies. Catherine and Guy must race to unravel the connection between the missing timepiece and the undead boy. For this mysterious magic could mean the difference between life and death—for all of them
I was drawn to Magic Dark and Strange by Kelly Powell, with its promise of Bone Witch meets Sherlock Holmes. Powell delivered an engaging mystery in this atmospheric young adult fantasy.
Catherine Daly left her family’s farm to work as a printer’s apprentice for the city newspaper. They provide board along with a small salary. Occasionally she is offered a chance to earn additional funds using her unique gift. She can awaken the dead to allow loved ones to say goodbye. Each time she uses her gift, it cost her an hour of her own life.
When her boss asks her to retrieve a timepiece from an unmarked grave, she accepts and enlists the watchmaker’s son, Guy Nolan, to aid her. What unfolds that evening has them caring for a boy with no memory and Catherine in a race to find the timepiece before her employer fires her. Danger is afoot and murder is just around the corner.
What a delightfully captivating tale, despite the lack of world-building. Rather than explain the magic, it just was. I have so many questions!?! While we understand the cost; we learn nothing of the world and how this magic came about. I would have liked a longer story with more depth. Having stated that, the characters and mystery were delightful, as was the twist on necromancy.
The more Catherine and Guy looked for answers, the more danger arose. Catherine was quite clever in pulling together clues, and the red herrings and twists kept me listening.
This has all the details one would expect surrounding historical graveyards, including grave robberies in the name of science.
Karissa Vacker narrates, and her voice suited this historical tale. She provided unique voices for each character and helped set the tone. I found after listening to the first chapter that the narration felt slow. I increased the speed and finally settled on 1.5x.
While Magic Dark and Strange left me wanting in some areas, I enjoyed the story and became caught up in the mystery. I think this is best suited for a younger audience.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
That cover is lovely. And the audiobook sounds wonderful for my 14 YO girl. She loves UF and loves mysteries. I’ll check it out for her. Thank you.
Yes, this would work for young adult even though the characters are historically of age.
Anne - Books of My Heart
Robin reviewed this audio and she is always a harder grader than you or me. I enjoy this narrator though.
Her reviews aren’t much different, she is stingy with her stars though.?
Ooh this sounds good! I think I’d want more explanation of the world too, but it definitely sounds compelling.
Right. This is like the third book where the world-building is light, but the story was good. Maybe she will do a prequel to explain the world better.
Carole @ Carole's Random Life in Books
This sounds like fun! I probably would have wanted to learn a little more about the world but I am intrigued by the idea behind this story.
Yep.. I have so many questions, but the mystery and storyline was engaging.
Tyler H. Jolley
What a cool power to possess, very creative. That alone could have been a book! I love the twists and turn. I’m guessing many hours of outlining went into this. Great review, Kimba!
It was an entertaining tale Tyler.
Debbie S Haupt
oh new to me author and narrator kim thanks for sharing your thoughts it sounds intriguing. xo
ps it’s been a whirlwind week but i’m slowly getting back into the swing of things
I feel you! Hope things slow soon.
Boo for the lack of world building but the rest really does sound fun and magical!
Yeah, honestly I was disappointed in that aspect, but had a good time listening.
This looks good. Such a pity the world building was lacking.
Tressa @ Wishful Endings
I’ve been curious about this one. I may give it a go even though the worldbuilding was lacking. It still sounds like something I’d enjoy. 🙂
I enjoyed myself Tressa.