Cover Image: An Unreliable Magic

An Unreliable Magic

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Member Reviews

An Unreliable Magic picks up mere weeks after that ending in Wicked as You Wish, and while the evil Snow Queen is still a threat that the banders need to defeat, her role in book two is lesser as we focus on new and evolving enemies. 
Our favourite banders got some real page time this book with additional POVs to just Tala and Alex, which allowed us to delve into each character more effectively.
 
The charaters in this novel really do hold everything together and I was really pleased that one of the sub plots focused on each of their dooms and how (especially as teenagers) they behave towards the doom and the people closest to them. I did find this time round that our characters developments helped keep the booknon track as the first half lacked the same flow of book one with no seeming main story plot, but the character sub plots rounds it out and keeps you interested long enough for the main story to kick in and pick up the pace of the book.

I really loved that so much if the story takes place in Avalon too, and that time was spent exploring the land, the magic, the family histories, and the multitude of fairytales that here are a real as you and I. 

Its really hard to properly review a series like this without spoilers so I won't attempt anything further than to say I am excited for book three! 

4.5 stars, rounded down for 1st half pacing.
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DRC provided by Sourcebooks Fire via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Representation: Filipino-Scottish protagonist, non-binary Chinese protagonist, Japanese-English protagonist, gay white Slavic secondary character, Black secondary character, Filipino tertiary characters, deaf Filipino tertiary character, disabled Filipino tertiary character, white Scottish tertiary character, English tertiary character, Japanese tertiary character, gay tertiary characters, deaf white tertiary character, non-binary tertiary character.

Content Warning: violence, ICE, child abuse, racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, animal experimentation.

An Unreliable Magic by Rin Chupeco is the second instalment in the author’s A Hundred Names for Magic series, a fantasy trilogy inspired by real world events, and fairy-tales in such an original way.

After the events of the first book, Alex, Tala and the other Banders are temporarily safe in Avalon, but they need to be alert to the Snow Queen’s next attack. 

As I predicted in my review of the first book in which Tala got most of the focus as a point-of-view character, this second instalment had Ken, Zoe and Loki share equal time in the spotlight as our favourite Filipino-Scottish Makiling, delving deeper into their dooms (their prophesised futures) and their relationships. I hope that in the third we will get Alex, Nya, Cole and West together with Tala, so that all of that members can get their time to shine evenly. 

As my rating highlights, I did not like this second book as much as the first, but I blame it on the second-book-in-a-trilogy curse. They very rarely manage to build up more enthusiasm for the grand finale and sadly “An Unreliable Magic” happens to be no exception. It is still a very nice reading experience and I will fervently wait for the last book. I only wish it had more substance plot-wise, but I am still happy that we got more time with Ken, Loki and Zoe.
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An Unreliable Magic opens with Tala’s failure. Her constant attempts to complete Avalon’s obstacle course throughout the book mirror her character arc, with each new attempt bringing her closer to understanding what she needs to do both in the labyrinth and outside of it. I found her character arc to be all encompassing, while she retains her fierce protectiveness and stubborn streak, this sequel to Wicked as you Wish is about her learning to listen to others, especially her father.

Each of the other Banders also have their own character arcs. Zoe’s stands out as the most poignant, with Ken’s a close second. Though Loki and West both have their own POVs throughout, their arcs were less prominent, likely because they’ll extend into the next book. As for Alex, he’s a far more enjoyable character now that he’s not being cagey about important secrets. He wears his crown well, though glimpses of the teen he is shine through in certain scenes.

Overall Chupeco’s characters remain the book’s strongest aspect. They write them in such a way that you can’t help but care for the lot of them. The way they wrote the teens was my favourite as each is has a distinctive voice without coming off as too mature. They all have impulsive, even occasionally petulant moments that makes each of them delightful to experience. Chupeco also continue their inclusion of multiple LGBTQ+ characters. There is another non-binary character that comes along apart from Loki, while Alex’s sexuality also features as a prominent subplot.

An Unreliable Magic by Rin Chupeco expands the world they developed in the first book. Magic and its effect on history and politics are at the center of the story; we get to see both the good and the bad of it as governments and corporations alike seek to exploit it. Chupeco also expands Avalon’s history along with that of prominent families and segen. Through Ken’s and Cole’s gifts, shadow magic also becomes prominent in this book, while Chupeco also explores Tala’s magic and her clan’s history.

Despite how well Chupeco develops their characters, the same can’t be said of the book’s pacing and plot. I found the first half meandering, with the main plot often shadowed by the many subplots. I found the subplots just as engaging, but it lacked some of the structure of the first book at times. However, there’s more coherence in the second half, especially as the subplots start to converge leading to a climactic ending.

Overall I enjoyed An Unreliable Magic by Rin Chupeco. I found it escaped the middle book syndrome, even going so far as to say that it’s stronger than its prequel. I wasn’t left with as many questions as last time and I’m thoroughly excited for the next book. If Wicked As You Wish intrigued you, An Unreliable Magic will no doubt captivate you.
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An excellent continuation of the Hundred Names for Magic series, AN UNRELIABLE MAGIC continues Tala’s, Alex’s, and the rest of their group’s adventure. In this installment, our group is still trying to defeat the evil Snow Queen, though there’s a new threat as American refugees are being threatened. ⁣
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I love that this time around, we get to see more of Avalon and get a deeper look at all of the fairytales and fables that make up this world. We also get a bigger glimpse at more of the magic that makes up Avalon, and I loved getting to explore much of that alongside our characters. The world-building continues to blow me away, it’s so easy to get sucked in to this magical, rich world that Rin created with this series. The blend of fairytales and an alternate America is just *chef’s kiss*. ⁣
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I absolutely adored the first book, and now after finishing book 2 I can say that this series is one of my all-time favorites. With its diverse cast of characters, inclusion of real-world social injustice issues, and strong sense of loyalty and family, there’s just *SO* much to love. Rin is already one of my very favorites, and I’m convinced that anything they write is destined to be pure magic, much like this series. ⁣
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Do yourself a favor and add this series to your tbr. I’m so thrilled this is going to be a trilogy, and I will be waiting oh-so-impatiently for the third book. ⁣

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*Many thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the digital arc.
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An Reliable Magic is the fantastic sequel to Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco. This series is packed full of amazing characters, a great plot, magic, and incorporates so many amazing YA tropes.
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Thank you so much for this earc. This story was so much fun. Although I got slightly lost due to all the different povs. I definitely want more from this world.
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If you're looking for a fast-paced YA with complex and fun characters, great dialogue and a twisty plot then check out An Unreliable Magic. It's definitely for those who like modern fantasy books both setting, dialogue, and general vibe vise but the story is still filled with magic and all the important fantasy tropes. It's a feel-good yet action-filled book that's perfect for adults and ya readers.
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The Snow Queen is still determined to bring about the end of Avalon. Tala and the others all decide to prevent it, even after Ryker shows up after attacking detention facilities and freeing refugees. Legends tell of incredible power, and Tala's life only gets messier. It's only a matter of time before the Snow Queen arrives with an unlikely ally.

This follows right after the first book in the A Hundred Names For Magic series, after Wicked As You Wish, so absolutely read that one first. (Don't worry, you won't regret it!) Here, the frost receded from Avalon, and now there's more politics to deal with. Alex must provide leadership for his country, with the Fianna and the Banders keeping the people safe. While there are trials to be had, in the shape of our teens figuring out the nature of their dooms, Tala trying to finish the obstacle course and learn how to use her agimat, to the entire team tracking OzCorp's dangerous experiments. The dooms have repercussions for their love lives as well as for Avalon, and Tala is still figuring out her relationship with her father, Ryker, and her extended Filipino family. 

Magic carries a cost, and none of the teens are exempt. When Loki battles a jabberwocky early on, their weapon is damaged and they must work without it as it's repaired. Legal ramifications follow the raids into lockdown facilities, and using spellstones or spell shards results in very dangerous consequences. In this world of magic kingdoms and fairy tales come to life, which remains a feature keeping the teens and story grounded. Prophecy isn't always what people think it is, so I'm sure there's much more in store for them in future novels of the series.  I for one can't wait to see it!
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Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

An Unreliable Magic is the second installment in Rin Chupeco's A Hundred Names for Magic trilogy, and continues to follow main characters Tala and Alex and their friends as they prepare to fight the Snow Queen.

This isn't my favorite series of Chupeco's, and thus far that has been because each installment has felt bigger than its britches in some way. With the first book, the issue was simply getting the reader acclimated to the fantasy world and magic system -- there's a lot to balance when literally every fairytale ever is real -- and with its sequel, the issue has shifted to crowd management. Though I do think the world is interesting, and the characters are entertaining, there were just so many people doing all kinds of different things that I felt like I couldn't effectively keep up.

Despite my misgivings about the overall volume of Things Being Managed in this book, I do think there was a lot that was good about it, most notably efforts at thematic elements which relate to our modern world. I am definitely hopeful for book 3; so much groundwork has been laid in books 1 and 2, book 3 is set up to potentially be the best of the bunch.
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The Nameless Sword has been found.  Legend says that whoever can wield the sword will be the most powerful warrior of their time.  Who will try and take the sword?  Who will be able to use it?  The Snow Queen is still out in the world causing mischief and Tala needs to find out what to do next.  When will the Snow Queen attack again?  Who is on her side and who is with Tala?

An Unreliable Magic is the second book in the A Hundred Names for Magic series.  Overall I enjoyed the storyline, but there were too many places that dragged and my mind started wandering.  I enjoyed the alternate history with fairy tale magic dispersed throughout, but I didn’t enjoy the way Chupeco included gender role discussions that seemed to be pushed in because of what is going on in our real timeline.  Overall this was an enjoyable read and I will look for the next book whenever it is released.
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Firstly, I have to say that I am loving the new cover designs because I feel like they definitely fit the series a bit better. This, however, is my least favorite of Chupeco's series. That is not to say that I did not enjoy it completely, but it certainly felt anticlimactic.
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I absolutely loved this - I was afraid it would suffer from second book syndrome, but instead it improved a lot so far.

What I liked:
	- Cole. It makes me annoyed that he's a classic brooding boy but I still love him, and he definitely took a level in depth here.
	- More of Tala's parents! I would kill for a Kay Warnock prequel. 
	- There was a lot less Alex in this book, which was great.
	- The world is finally more digestible since I came in with the background from the first book.

What I didn't like:
	- I still had to take notes to keep up with what was going on. 
There are still sooooo many characters.
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E-ARC generously provided by Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

3.5 stars rounded up. With larger than life prose and an even larger accompanying cast, An Unreliable Magic is a vibrant sequel that bites off slightly more than it can chew at points.
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I loved returning to this world with Tala and the Bandersnatches! I laughed so much throughout the story because Rin has the type of humor that I deeply connect to. I appreciated shenanigans throughout the book as well as the hints of romance that happened throughout. I still loved the Firebird being around but I believe I gained a greater appreciation for Loki in this book. Based on the way the book ends, I know this isn't the final book and I'm pretty glad for that because I'm not ready to say goodbye to this cast of characters!
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Can someone please lend me a time machine so I don't have to wait for the sequel? Please??

This is quickly becoming a new favorite series!! 
I love the character progression in this second of three books. In the first, we get to know each of the significant character's personalities. In the second, we get to see their deeper feelings and ambitions and see how their relationships with each other develop. I was really happy with all the character progressions, with the exception of West, who was the only Bander not given a significant subplot and who felt a little cast to the side.

Rather than the typical band of adventurers in the wilderness plot, I really enjoyed having a bunch of interconnected plot points flow so we'll together. I'm always skeptical when I realize a story is told from multiple perspectives since that can make the story feel less cohesive instead of more. But Rin Chupeco clearly excels at plot planning since the multiple perspectives actually made this plot more cohesive. It felt more realistic, with each character splitting up on different missions but always working together for a common goal. They also had personal interests aside from the main objective, which added to this very fantastical version of earth still feeling very realistic.

It was also really fun to explore more magical technology in the daily lives of Avalonians, though I do wish we would have gotten to explore the wilder parts of the country more. But the world building in the first book was better than I gave it credit for, because while I felt like it was too much to take in initially, I was able to jump right into the second months later without feeling lost at all. There's even been a time skip in between books, but it skips to such a natural place I didn't care at all.

It's so hard to write a review without spoiling what made the first book so great and the second one even better, but if you like fantasy, urban fantasy, magic, fairytales and mythologies, and any combination of the above, then this trilogy is for you.

Now all that's left to do is cry in bookworm because I have to wait for the third book, and automatically add every other Rin Chupeco book to my tbr.
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Rin's books keep surprising me and achieving my need for original and charismatic fantastic fiction. I enjoyed the first book, but the sequel was the one that really got my attention. The huge cast of characters was my only problem with the development; some seemed kind of lost through the narrative. Not important enough to be there. The pacing and the fantasy, tho, and Tala and her group, it all felt great to be back to this story.
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Content Warning: Racism, Violence

I really enjoyed Wicked as You Wish, which was book one in this series. I’m not sure why it was a struggle for me to get through this sequel.

One thing I love about Rin Chupeco books is the diversity she puts into her books. This story is no exception – there is so much diversity, it’s wonderful! Being a Filipino-American, I love seeing all the Filipinos represented in this book, especially with the women warriors. The old crew is back and the fairytale settings are present again and when I say fairytale settings I mean the author includes every fairytale out there from Peter Pan to Alice in Wonderland and then some. It’s a chaotic mix but it works.

The thing is, this is totally a mood read kind of book for me and I was not in the mood for this type of this story. I tried my hardest to get into the mood though! What tripped me up was the huge cast of characters. I didn’t re-read the first book before going into this one and maybe that would have helped. Because of this the first chapters of the book was going way too slow for me. It was a struggle for me. I was having trouble connecting to Tala because I was getting invested in Ken and Nya, but then I would be trying to remember who was who from the first book. There is so much going on in this book and it did not slow down. I just felt like I couldn’t catch up yet I usually love fast paced books! I think there was just too much going on for me in this one.


Why you should read it:
*fairytale infused story (every fairytale and myth you can think of)
*lots of action and so much diversity
*you want to be back with Tala, Alex and their crew

Why you might not want to read it:
*too much going on, first part of the story is slow
*it was hard connecting to the characters, too many characters to remember
*(re-read the first book if you can)

My Thoughts:

The great thing about this series is the action, the diversity and how all the fairytales come together in one creative story. Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting into the story. There was too much going on in the story and I didn’t re-read the first story to reacquaint myself with the large cast of characters, and I struggled through the first part of the story. It’s definitely a book where I need to be in the mood for. I think many fans of the first book will enjoy this one and be happy to see the same characters from book one.
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Rin Chupeco does it again! This book draws on so many different fantasy influences to create a unique fantasy novel that is fierce!
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I've found it difficult to review the second book of a trilogy, especially when the series is fantasy. A lot of the reasons why appear in this book. Plotlines are almost never going to completely wrap up and new characters frequently get introduced. That being said, this book would have benefited from dialing back the ensemble cast by one or two members, because it gets very difficult keeping track of where everyone is and what role they're playing.
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I want to preface this review by saying that, while reading, I found out that Rin Chupeco made some racist comments on Twitter last year, and I won’t say that this did not affect my feelings towards the book. That being said, I tried to consider the book separately from Chupeco’s comments, but I most likely won’t be reading anything else by them, as I prefer to support authors who are inclusive.

***SPOILERS for Wicked as You Wish***

An Unreliable Magic picks up right where Wicked As You Wish left off. The Banders just saved the kingdom of Avalon, Tala just drew the nameless sword from the stone in secret, a prophecy foretold that there is a traitor in their midst, and basically all the characters have dooms (aka prophecies) that are both intriguing and vague. The main premise of book 2 is that OzCorp is engaged in some sketchy business in Avalon and the Banders and their crew need to find out what’s going on.

Frankly, I have so many issues with this book. Perhaps my biggest complaint is that the first book was certainly left open-ended, and I was hoping more would be resolved by the end of this book, but alas my hopes were misplaced. The few answers that this book gives, such as revealing the “traitor” and further exploring some of the characters dooms, were anticlimactic. Similarly, many of the open endings from book one were still left open by the end of book two. I can appreciate leaving some open ends, but authors need to give readers something to keep them going. Marissa Meyer does this perfectly in my opinion, especially in The Lunar Chronicles. However, it seems like Chupeco doesn’t even try to satisfy readers at all.

Furthermore, most of the book revolved around politics, even more so than the first book. Now, don’t get me wrong, authors can certainly incorporate politics into books to make a statement, but I personally read fantasy to escape reality, and I would say 80% of the book was about politics. The few action-packed scenes that were enjoyable were sparse to say the least. More than anything, I just felt like the incorporation of politics overtook the plot, and it wasn’t really what I signed up for.

Additionally, there are some characters in the novel that were likeable, but unfortunately there were so many characters and side-stories, that it felt hard to fully connect with any character. Many of the chapters go back and forth, following different characters, and by the time I would start feeling invested in one character by the end of a chapter, Chupeco moved on to another character in the next.

Overall, Wicked As You Wish was certainly not one of my favorite books, but it was okay. On the other hand, I actively disliked the sequel, An Unreliable Magic. While the premise for the books was interesting, I did not like the direction Chupeco went with the books. If you enjoy open-ended books that discuss politics, this would likely be a great book for you, it just wasn’t the right book for me, and I would rather support other authors going forward.
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