Missing Magic Review

Missing Magic
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Eleven-year-old Ned Truso would love to tell you about his ability to float around a room, or turn a person into a frog. But, alas, it's not possible; for Ned lacks all magical ability. While his family is gifted magically, it appears that the magic did not extend to Ned. This, he blames on his father, a farmer who is only slightly magically gifted. Ned wishes more than anything that his cousin, Kelver Truso, was his father. Kelver, one of the most powerful magicians known, vied for his mother's affections for years, but lost her to Ned's un-gifted father. Luckily, that hasn't made Kelver too bitter, and, under the title "Uncle Kelver," he is still a large part of Ned's life. Which is how Ned finds himself being enrolled as a student at Leodwych School. Leodwych School, a place for budding magicians to learn the magic ropes - from history to spells, and everything in between - doesn't come cheap. But, determined to help Ned develop magical abilities of some sort, Kelver shells over a lump some of money, as well as the cash needed to make certain repairs to the school. Ned believes that, with a little help from educated magicians, he'll be able to learn everything he has ever wanted to know about magic. Unfortunately, it is quite evident from day one that magic is, most likely, not going to be a part of his life. Sure, he can read all the books he'd like to about it. And he can sit in on classes with kids his age who can do all sorts of interesting tricks. But it doesn't seem that Ned will ever be able to follow their lead. Sadly, the other Leodwych students seem to know this, for, from day one, Ned is tormented by his classmates. Some work to drag him flying across the room; while others steal his "overpriced" pencils. Ned is absolutely miserable, and loathes his new situation. But, with his parents far away, there's little to nothing that Ned can do, aside from runaway. And, as he loves the food he receives at Mrs. Bolsher's place, he doesn't see running away as an option. Then, just as Ned's books are turned into a pile of heavy bricks, and his hair is turned into an assortment of squirming snakes for the last time, he realizes that enough is enough. And, as much as he doesn't want to disappoint Uncle Kelver, he contemplates escaping the confines of Leodwych School. Then tragedy strikes! Necromancers - magical pirates of a sort - have been kidnapping magical children left and right. When Ned falls into their clutches, he realizes that his lack of magical ability may just earn him a one-way ticket to an untimely demise. But when the Necromancers learn of his odd normal-ness, they decide that he's too bizarre to dispose of, and decide to keep him around. But if Ned and his classmates don't escape from the Necromancers' clutches stat, they may be forced to work for them...forever.
It seems like every book being released for children nowadays is part of the fantasy genre. Luckily, most present new ideas that make each story stand-out from all the others. MISSING MAGIC falls into this category. While many fantasy novels involve a student with heightened magical powers, Emma Laybourn presents a tale about a boy who is missing all magical ability, and must function in a world and environment, where he is surrounded by those who are gifted magically. Ned is a fun character, who appears mischievous, but really has a good head on his shoulders. His lack of magical ability truly makes the reader feel for him, as he is surrounded by those who have the powers to do whatever they please - including torment him at the drop of a hat. It's extremely difficult not to sympathize with Ned as he traverses the school hallways on foot, while others fly; and figure out math equations in his head, while his magical counterparts simply request the answer, and watch it appear. However, as much as Ned appears to be the victim, Laybourn does not allow that title to stick with him, and works to make him a hero to readers, as well as the additional characters found within MISSING MAGIC. Laybourn also strives to mix various components to create a truly original, off-beat fantasy, which definitely leaves the reader curious to learn more. While I have read many fantasy stories, and have encountered the term "Necromancer," Laybourn is the first to present a story of what, exactly, Necromancers are. According to Laybourn, Necromancers are a type of magical pirate, who float among the clouds and stars on a ship rowed by magical children and slaves. I found this inclusion within MISSING MAGIC to be quite interesting, as it mixes fantasy with pirates, and weaves a story that will, ultimately, appeal to readers of all genres. Laybourn proves herself to be fairly adept at creating characters, and bizarre storylines, which make her one to watch in the children's literary world. The only thing missing from this magical new fantasy is a sequel!
Erika Sorocco
Freelance Reviewer

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