I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.The Best Kind of Magic by Crystal Cestari
Series: Windy City Magic #1
Genres: Magical Realism, Paranormal, Young Adult
Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 16th 2017
Format: ARC (336 pages) • Source: Around the World ARC Tours
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Amber Sand is not a witch. The Sand family Wicca gene somehow leapfrogged over her. But she did get one highly specific magical talent: she can see true love. As a matchmaker, Amber's pretty far down the sorcery food chain (even birthday party magicians rank higher), but after five seconds of eye contact, she can envision anyone's soul mate.
Amber works at her mother's magic shop--Windy City Magic--in downtown Chicago, and she's confident she's seen every kind of happy ending there is: except for one--her own. (The Fates are tricky jerks that way.) So when Charlie Blitzman, the mayor's son and most-desired boy in school, comes to her for help finding his father's missing girlfriend, she's distressed to find herself falling for him. Because while she can't see her own match, she can see his--and it's not Amber. How can she, an honest peddler of true love, pursue a boy she knows full well isn't her match?
The Best Kind of Magic is set in urban Chicago and will appeal to readers who long for magic in the real world. With a sharp-witted and sassy heroine, a quirky cast of mystical beings, and a heady dose of adventure, this novel will have you laughing out loud and questioning your belief in happy endings.
I love heading into books with zero expectations. I saw this on Goodreads and added it a long time ago, then randomly hopped on the ARC tour for the book. The premise seemed like it was more magical realism than paranormal, so I was eager to see how matchmaking and witchcraft were related in this particular world. When I got the book, it sat around my apartment for a week while I ignored it for Netflix. I finally picked it up and got reading… and really couldn’t stop myself!
Amber and her mom, a witch, own a magic shop in Chicago. The whole witch thing skipped a generation because Amber is just a “lowly” matchmaker. She can look into someone’s eyes and see glimpses of their future with their true love. She’s never had luck in her own love life though, as she can’t see her own romantic future. The Mayor’s son, Charlie, comes to Amber with a problem. She finds herself falling for him even though she knows who his match will be (aka not her). She, Charlie, and her best friend Amani (who can see the future) band together to find a missing person and deal with many other magical people along the way.
Storytelling, Setting, and Feels
This was super cute and so fun to read! I loved reading about all the different kind of magical beings and their ancestors. I thought this was magical realism at first, but I think with ALL the other paranormal characters out there, it is more of a paranormal story. (I’m so bad at understanding the difference anyways!) I loved watching Amber and her friends come together to figure out where the mayor’s girlfriend disappeared to. I really didn’t know what to expect and there were quite a few twists and turns in there.
It would have been cool to see Amber as a witch, but it was actually great to see her as a matchmaker! The whole concept was really neat to me. She could see people’s soulmates just by looking in their eyes. I loved hearing different stories and couples that she encountered throughout. The fact that she knew her best friend’s and couldn’t tell her about it (based on a pact they made early in their friendship) made things very interesting!
I’ve only been to a Chicago suburb before – never in the city itself – so it was very fun to read a story set there. I could really feel like I was at the Navy Pier in the Windy City Magic shop.
The story started off a little cheesy for me, with Amber’s insane amount of sarcasm and snark, plus a lot of teenager language. It didn’t feel natural at first, but I think it settled down pretty quickly. Amber’s sarcasm was always there and I love how quick-witted she was. She had a somewhat strained relationship with her mom, but you could tell they cared for each other. Amber was a regular teenager in almost every other way.
I reeeeally shipped Amber and Charlie from the beginning. It had a lot of classic Lauren elements to it. Amber’s mom and Charlie’s dad were longtime friends, but Amber and Charlie never really spent time together until this point. Their relationship and feelings happened in a realistic timeframe and I could totally feel the chemistry before they did. Her best friend Amani was another big character. I loved seeing their relationship and how they explored their powers together when necessary.
As I mentioned, some of the teenager-speak was a little forced for me. The beginning of the story was a quick shock to the system because it was overly cheesy and Amber was a little too snarky. She quickly settled a little bit and the story got incredibly interesting from there! I didn’t notice any awkward language to affect my reading as the book went on either. There were definitely a few moments of frustration because of course I’m older (and reacting differently) than the main character, but I found myself really enjoying Amber and her story.
I’m always nervous when I get to the end of a book in a series – especially the first one. How will it end?! Will there be an unbearable cliffhanger and I have to wait over a year to see what’s next? Will there be enough wrapped up so I don’t have to worry about it? I’m happy to report that this first book fell more on the second side. There were a few plot points opened up near the end of the story (View Spoiler »Kim, Vincent and Amani, the mean witch Victoria… to name a few! « Hide Spoiler) but nothing that has me angsty for the next book. This story wrapped up really nicely and I can see that book 2 will feature some of the same plot points but also have a brand new story to deal with. (I already read the synopsis of course.) This book could realistically stand alone if it had to.
If you enjoyed Wizards of Waverly Place or Disney-like shows in general, you’ll like this one a lot. I think it falls on the younger spectrum because of the writing style just sounding that way. Don’t let that deter you though; if you like books with lots of different magical creatures (fairies, trolls, leprechauns, vampires, sirens… you name it!) and abilities, give it a try. I didn’t think the young voice was hard to read as twentysomething. I was so swept up in the magic and the mystery that I was excited to see things progress for Amber. Can’t wait to see what’s next!
Thoughts in a Gif
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