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Magicians Impossible


Magicians Impossible

MAGICIANS IMPOSSIBLE is urban fantasy. This genre is sort of a hybrid, a big shaggy unkempt marriage of medieval fantasy, replete with magical powers and eldritch creatures, crossed with the stuff of modern hardboiled detective fiction. Typically, there are good guys and bad guys battling it out over a rare mystical item, or else there is some other sort of wicked plan that the good guys have to confront and defeat.

One of the tropes of urban fantasy is the tension between the characters in the story, who have varying degrees of magical prowess, and the rest of society, which wants to be left alone and ignorant of the very existence of the paranormal world around them. (Contrast this with more conventional superheroes, who are well known, wear distinctive costumes to stand out, and likely as not work in the media, the better to manage their public images.) This tension lends itself to a certain type of cynicism, where most of the heroes (and all of the villains) exhibit a degree of disdain, if not outright contempt, with regard to the mundane members of their communities.

"[W]here Abraham shines is in his cinematic treatment of the magical battles. The first an astonishingly well-written cold open, introducing us to the world and its possibilities."

And if MAGICIANS IMPOSSIBLE is anything, it is a deeply cynical book. Its main character, Jason Bishop, is a thirtysomething single New York bartender whose mother died in childbirth, whose father abandoned him, and whose loving aunt and uncle have succumbed to cancer and dementia. That family history in and of itself might make anyone cynical; when Jason discovers that he is an immensely powerful mage, his sense of alienation only increases. But there is more to it than that. First-time author Brad Abraham has described his book as “Harry Potter meets James Bond,” and it is almost mind-numbingly derivative, cribbing from sources as diverse as THE DA VINCI CODE and Monsters, Inc.

Additionally, by loading his characters with an array of special powers, Abraham has made them all but invulnerable. Both the good and evil mages can teleport and manipulate energy and pretend to be other people with amazing facility --- Jason, in fact, learns how to do most of these things in record time. And since the actions of the characters have no repercussions in the mortal world, almost anything is possible, and can and does happen.

With an unlikable lead character, a shopworn story structure, and overpowered super-magicians, it might to be easy to dismiss MAGICIANS IMPOSSIBLE as a failed effort. But where Abraham shines is in his cinematic treatment of the magical battles. The first chapter, a small-scale duel between rival magicians among the New York penthouses, is an astonishingly well-written cold open, introducing us to the world and its possibilities. When Jason and his fellow magicians go into action, Abraham vividly describes every arcing projectile, putting the reader there inside the heart of the battle. As a theatrical, visceral experience, this is a wickedly fun read.

Abraham comes from the world of cinema, and anyone who goes to the multiplexes nowadays complains, and rightfully so, that a good bit of the originality of movies has been discarded in favor of special effect-driven mayhem. MAGICIANS IMPOSSIBLE follows a similar aesthetic, but it is so well done that even the most discerning reader can find space to pardon its missteps and appreciate its considerable entertainment value.

Reviewed by Curtis Edmonds on September 29, 2017

Magicians Impossible
by Brad Abraham

  • Publication Date: September 12, 2017
  • Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Urban Fantasy
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250083524
  • ISBN-13: 9781250083524