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“Life is less about what happens and more about how you deal with those events. . . And look at you, learning magic, you’re only seeing the obstacles, but lots of people, including most of the adults here, would kill for the chance to cast even one spell,” Cyrus. –The Revenge of Magic
The Revenge of Magic #1
by James Riley
AR Test, Diverse Characters
Thirteen years ago, books of magic were discovered in various sites around the world alongside the bones of dragons. Children born after this so-called “Discovery Day” have the power to use magic.
Fort Fitzgerald has no idea books of magic exist. Then, while on vacation with his father, a giant creature bursts through the earth, attacking Washington DC. The creature grabs Fort’s father, taking him underground. Fort is devastated and dreams of getting revenge. Six months later, a man named Dr. Opps invites Fort to a government-run school to learn magic.
Life at the school is difficult and Fort has no idea who to trust. Everyone is keeping secrets. What does Jia, Fort’s tutor, know about the attacks? Why does Rachel, master of destructive magic, think Fort is out to destroy the school? And why is Fort reliving memories of an expelled girl every time he goes to sleep? Fort must find the answers or more attacks will come–and this time nothing will stop the creatures.
The Revenge of Magic starts with action and adventure that continues to the very end. Many of the supporting characters are stereotypical, including trope roles such as: the bullies, the tough girl, and the closed-mouthed military commander. However, Fort and Cyrus, a clairvoyant, are well-developed and Cyrus’s matter-of-fact tone adds some much-needed humor to the story. Although Fort’s reason for hating the creatures that took his father is understandable, Fort’s focus on revenge may make it difficult for readers to connect with him.
Fort learns more about the attack on Washington DC through a series of memories that are shared with him. Even though the memories appear in a different font, some readers may have a difficult time keeping the past and the present separated. Several times the creatures are able to control humans, and one creature takes over a student’s body, transforming the human body into the alien’s form. In the end, the creatures reveal their desire to return to earth and enslave humans. The large cast of characters, the complicated plot, and several scary scenes make The Revenge of Magic best suited for stronger readers.
The Revenge of Magic is a strong start to a new series. Even though several mysteries are revealed, the ending leaves unanswered questions that will have readers looking for book two, The Last Dragon. Readers who enjoy high-action adventure stories should also try the Simon Thorn Series by Aimée Carter and the Snared Series by Adam Jay Epstein.
- Giant hands erupt from the earth and attack. “Enormous black-scaled fingers pushed up through the ground, sending grass, rock, and dirt flying in every direction. A muffled roar sounded from somewhere beneath them, and Fort felt it even through the ground shaking.” As people flee, more hands erupt from the ground. “A noise like torrents of rushing water thundered behind him, and turned to find a nightmare rising from the middle of the Reflecting Pool, a giant black-scaled head covered in some sort of crown. . .More helicopters flew in, this time painted black, and these actually made it close to the creature. A missile rocketed out of one, slamming into its head, but the monster didn’t even seem to notice.”
- As the hands attack, Fort tries to stay with his father, but “the creature’s hand curled around him, rupturing the remains of the memorial as it descended back into the ground. . . the creature’s massive hand disappeared within the earth, and his father went silent.” The battle takes place over eight pages.
- Dr. Opps goes to Fort’s house to tell him about the school. When Dr. Opps touches Fort’s aunt, she collapses on the floor. Fort tries to attack Dr. Opps, but “before he could strike, though, something burning hot slammed into his side, sending him crashing across the room into the opposite wall. . . Fort groaned, rubbing his head, then quickly moved his hands around to feel where he’d been hit, finding his shirt blackened and charred by whatever it was that had struck him.”
- While in the cafeteria, a student put his hand on the metal table. “His hand began to glow. . . Fort didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late. His tray began to sizzle, turning white-hot with heat, and he yelped as it burned his hands.”
- When Rachel sees three boys bullying Fort, she “flicked a finger, and a tiny magic missile slammed into the boy’s stomach, sending him crashing across the table, taking Fort’s burning-hot tray with him. He tumbled into the back wall as the soldiers nearby all leaped out of the way, their weapons now aimed at Rachel.”
- A creature comes out of the ground and into the officer’s mess hall. The creature was “floating in midair. . . Whatever it was shimmered transparently, like a ghost or even a holographic projection. It wore some kind of opaque crystal armor, but beneath the armor, where a human being’s feet would have been, a multitude of tentacles squealed as they dragged across the floor.” A soldier tries to take Fort out of the room, but the creature turned to follow Fort. Then Dr. Opps “stepped between them, holding the same medallion he’d used on Fort’s aunt in her apartment. . . Dr. Opps shouted, and light shot out from the medallion, some sort of magical burst.” The medallion burst and the creature left. The scene is described over six pages.
- Three bullies attack Fort in the dormitory. “Fort plowed into the boy, crashing them both to the ground. Blane landed hard, still surprised by the attack, and Fort punched him in the stomach, once, twice, a third time, rage overwhelming his mind. . . Someone yanked him backward, and he lashed out wildly but missed as Blaine rose unsteadily to his feet, one of his hands burning with a deep red flame.” One of the boys sets Fort’s shirt on fire. As the boys continue to threaten Fort, another boy “lunged forward, grabbing Blaine’s hand. The fire was extinguished, and the boy started to yell in pain as some sort of pustules begin to grow on his hand.” Chickenpox began popping up all over the boy’s body, ending the fight. The scene is described over four and a half pages.
- The three bullies corner Fort. “Bryce’s hands pulsed with red energy, and Fort’s feet froze in place, ice forming on the ground around his boots.” Fort “swung his fist out wildly but only succeeded in almost falling over his stuck boots.” One of the boys sends a “magic missile slamming into Fort’s shoulder even as Fort tried to slap out the fire.” Eventually, a soldier stops the bullies.
- Fort sees a memory of when Damian created a portal for the creatures to come through. Several students tried to stop the boy. A girl “slid toward Damian on the ground and threw a hand out to grab his ankle. Blue light began to glow from her hand, and the creature in the portal pulled back abruptly from Damian.” During the memory, Fort learned how the attack in Washington DC began. The memory is described over five pages.
- Later Fort again sees the memory. “Damian stood in the middle of the room, his eyes wide, his mouth hanging open, as a creature out of a horror book floated in the air above him, its transparent and vaguely humanoid body covered in crystal armor, its tentacle fingers locked on Damien’s head. . .” The creature uses Damian to communicate with the humans.
- When Fort sneaks into the room where the books are kept, a student sees him. The student “leaned forward and grabbed Fort by the shirt, dragging him inside, then threw him down the stairs toward the podium with the books.” The girl throws a fireball at Fort and “he leaped into its path and took the spell right in his chest. Fire exploded all over his torso and face, and he quickly dropped to the ground, rolling around to put it out, trying his best not to shriek in pain in spite of the agony he felt.” Fort uses a spell to lessen the pain.
- Fort is found in a girl’s hospital room. When he tries to escape, “the colonel grabbed Fort’s arm as he passed, then yanked it behind Fort’s back painfully. Fort immediately stopped short, groaning in pain, as two guards ran into the room.” Two guards take Fort to the disciplinary barracks.
- Back in the memory, Fort sees “Damian raised a hand and sent a magic missile flying into the doctor’s chest. Dr. Opps went flying, slamming into the nearest wall, groaning as he landed on the floor. Sierra immediately cast Mind Blast, sending it at the creature’s mind, but Damian waved his hand as if batting aside an annoying insect, and the spell seemed to have no effect.” A student, Michael, tried to get Damian to close the portal and threw a fireball. “With no way to protect himself against his own spell, Michael took the fireball right in the chest, letting out a piercing scream. His clothes on fire, he dropped to the floor, rolling to quench the flames, but the magical blaze refused to go out, and the boy continued to cry out in pain.” Michael dies.
- In an epic end battle, the Old One tries to come to Earth through a portal. One of the creatures takes over Michael’s body. “The shadowy, half-transparent Old One from the officers’ mess pushed its way into Damian’s body, overlapping him completely. . . The boy’s hands and feet stretched out and split into a mass of tentacles, as did his teeth, now protruding from a skull-like helmet. And within seconds, where there had once been a human boy, now there was only an Old One, Damian’s body transformed by the creature into its own form. . . Tentacles exploded out from the Old One’s hand, piercing the two soldier’s minds. They screamed, their bodies shaking violently, only to abruptly go silent and stand up straight. And then they turned their weapons on Fort.”
- During the battle, “a giant black claw exploded through the floor beneath him, throwing the bed against the nearby wall as a second and third finger rose up around him [Fort].” Fort uses a healing spell to hurt the creature. Fort “wanted the creature to feel pain, as much as or more than what it had put him through when it had taken his father. . . The giant monster roared in anguish as the finger Fort held began to wither away, the muscle dying and the bones crumbling beneath his hand. . . Wrapping one arm around a finger, Fort watched triumphantly as the creature wailed in agony, its head slamming back and forth against the cavern wall.” When the finger goes back through the portal, another creature attacks Fort. “The creature’s tentacles reached out to surround Fort’s head, but this time, they pushed into his ears, nose, and mouth. He tried to scream but couldn’t get any air. . .”
- The creature is able to create a portal in the sky. The students work together to try to stop the Old One. “. . . Rachel, meanwhile, went to fire another magic missile, but before she could, the Old One thrust its tentacles down towards her. . . One slicked into Rachel’s leg, dropping her to the ground. . .” The students are able to close the portal and the creatures leave. The action takes place over 42 pages.
Drugs and Alcohol
- A student calls Cyrus a “future turd.”
- A student says most of the Destruction kids are “jerks.”
- A student calls Fort an idiot and a jerk.
- During the attack on Washington DC, someone tried to take control of Fort’s body. “Fort watched his actions helplessly, almost from a distance, like he was staring down at himself from the wrong end of a telescope.”
- Dr. Opps has a silver medallion that allows him to speak to others “mind-to-mind.” This medallion allows Dr. Opps to show his memories to Fort.
- In the past, books were found that “contained formulas. The formulas, when read out loud, unlock previously inaccessible powers within the human body.” The use of the books allows some characters to gain the power of destruction, the power of healing, or clairvoyance.
- In order to find out which power Fort can access, he must read a spell from one of the books. When Fort says a destructive spell, “immediately, power flowed through his body and out of his hands, setting them aglow.” He only makes a small flash. When Fort reads a spell from the healing book, “Fort’s hands seemed to lower in temperature, and he felt some weirdly cold energy leave his fingers and pass into the man’s arm. . . the cut had disappeared.”
- Kids who were born on the day that the books were found can read them. Those before that day cannot read the books.
- A student explains healing magic to Fort. “Healing is restorative, meaning it restores something to an earlier state. If you think about it that way, reattaching a leg is just putting something back where it belongs. The magic. . . encourages the leg to become what it used to be, one complete bone.”
- Fort uses an “Ethereal Spirit” spell on himself and other students. The spell turns their bodies “ghostlike” and allows them to walk through walls. When he uses the spell, “at first, the magic made each of them glow a bit, which wasn’t exactly the best for sneaking round. But gradually each of them grew more transparent until he could see right through the others, and the glow disappeared.”
- Sometimes Fort can hear others’ thoughts.
- Healers can heal disease as well as give some a disease. Someone gave Fort the flu, and another student healed him. The student ran her hands “over his head and chest, and the energy passed into his body, immediately curing him of the flu.”