Review: The Magic Between by Stephanie Hoyt

In a world where everyone has magic coursing through them, legend says magic itself craves a mate. Legend says those with opposite magics have the greatest chance of forming the unbreakable Bond it desires.

A.B. Cerise is an obsessive compulsive pop star with the ability to turn invisible. He’s an out bisexual with absolutely no belief in Bonds. He has a love-bruised heart, thinks dating in the spotlight is a hassle at best and a nightmare at worst, and has no intention of going through it all over again.

Matthew Hellman-Levoie is the NHL’s number one goalie prospect, the youngest in a hockey dynasty, and one of the rare few who can see the unseeable. He’s a straight man who wears his heart on his sleeve, has grown up searching for a Bond, and dreams of finding the love of his life.

Legend never said anything about what to do when sparks fly between two people opposite in more ways than just magic.

Publication details: 14 February 2022, by Ninestar Press. Review copy provided by the publisher.

Rating: 3.5/5

Review

This is a tough book to review, because I had a few major issues with it… but I also had a lot of fun. I definitely debated for quite some time about rounding up vs. down on Goodreads (and ultimately went up).

This book reminds me a lot of fanfic, in many ways; in that it’s very focused on the internal lives of our two main characters – A.B. and Matthew – and developing a sense of camraderie, sexual tension and eventually love between them. There’s a lot of fun inside jokes, callbacks to previous chapters, and a lot of tension. This is definitely one of those books where frankly, you’re just waiting for that moment where the characters finally get their shit together. All of which made The Magic Between very bingeable; it’s much longer than a typical fantasy romance at 428 pages, but it read very quickly.

It’s also unapologetically queer. In addition to A.B. and Matthew, most of the supporting cast is queer (it sort of feels like going around and collecting a big bisexual found family). The book is very clear that there is more than one way to be bisexual, and tackles bi-erasure as well as the challenges of coming out as bi (including when famous). That’s probably the strongest element of this book – and it’s worth recommending for that alone. There’s some good mental health rep as well; both characters are aware of their challenges and are working on them.

While I enjoyed the romance, I am primarily a fantasy blogger, and yet – the magic system in this book was actually too much. The book started with an extended info-dump about the various types of magic in the world (which I note is now being revised before publication) that was incredibly overwhelming and almost turned me off the book before I began. It’s also a bit unnecessary; this book could have trimmed the enormous magic system down to two or three key types of magic, and it wouldn’t have changed a thing about the plot, and would have saved the need for readers to keep remembering a bunch of terms and getting distracted by more info-dumps. I did also find some of the bonded soulmates stuff a little too cheesy. I love cheese, but it was hard to take a book seriously when the main characters started glowing every time they made out.

My other complaint is that the character’s professions are a big selling point of this story – and the driver of the conflict – but don’t actually seem to matter much to either of them. We’re constantly told that coming out could jeopardise Matthew’s hockey career but we’re never told why he even likes hockey or wants to pursue it beyond being the son of a famous hockey player, and there is very little about how hockey is a part of his life: when does he go to practice? how does it impact his health and fitness regime outside of training? We just don’t know. Similarly, A.B. is a pop-star who struggles with anxiety and (quite literally) being seen, so why choose a career that makes you famous? How did he get into music in the first place? Again, we just don’t know. That probably doesn’t matter to some people, but as someone who loves stories about famous people whose lives are just unfathomable to those of us less famous, it bothered me a lot.

Despite all that I did, like I said, have a lot of fun – and with everything else going on right now, that’s probably what matters most.

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