Amy’s Marathon of Books: Rough Magic, by Caryl Cude Mullin

June 19, 2014

Rough_MagicTitle: Rough Magic
Author: Caryl Cude Mullin
Publisher: Second Story Press
ISBN: 9781897187630
Province: Quebec

Book Source: borrowed from the local library

Synopsis (from Second Story Press):

Out in the midst of the ocean, rising out of the rough seas, lies a mysterious island…

It has seen visitors over the years, and has learned to fear them. Humans have done nothing but take, stealing the island’s magic and enslaving its spirits.

Caliban, born to a great sorceress who was marooned on the island’s shores, grew up half-wild with its creatures. Having escaped the island to live amongst kingdoms and courtiers for many years, he now finds himself returning with his young charge Chiara, a girl who has a power within her that no one suspected. Once back on the island they are joined by Calypso, a magical young woman with ties to them all.

Inspired by The Tempest, Shakespeare’s famous play of love, loyalty, and magic, it is the island and its power that draws them all back. But this time the dragon who lives at the bottom of the sea has been awakened and must be satisfied. It will be up to the humans to strike a balance between their power and the natural world.


Confession: I have not read The Tempest, which I think might be a prerequisite, because I just didn’t get this book.

I think my confusion stemmed from the fact that the book spans three generations in around 200 pages, and I needed more. More information on who the characters were and why they were doing what they were doing… more clarity on who the hero(ine) was, as I couldn’t figure out who to sympathize with… more detail on the world and its magic system, like who had magic and how they got it and how it related to the island… Without this depth, I found myself overwhelmed and disconnected, which surprised me, because I really expected to like the book.

Despite my experience, other reviewers and bloggers loved Rough Magic and got a lot out of it, so don’t take my word for it. Check out other reviews of Rough Magic before deciding whether or not to read it. And if you have read it, and think I’m out to lunch, please tell me about it in the comments – I’d honestly love to know what I missed with this one.

I read this book for the 13 Amy's Marathon buttonBook Challenge, part of Amy’s Marathon of Books. Amy’s marathon is designed to raise awareness of the amazing YA books that Canadians are writing, and to raise money to launch a new YA book award. You can donate by clicking the button!

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