Stranger Magics – Ash Fitzsimmons [review]

Stranger Magics is a standalone urban fantasy novel written by Ash Fitzsimmons. It comes out on November 21, 2017. The publisher is Harper Voyager Impulse.

Stranger Magics cover


No one holds a grudge quite like a faerie . . . 

All Colin Leffee wants is to be left alone: to run his used bookstore in peace, and to quietly drink himself to sleep every night in an attempt to drown out the memories of eight-hundred-plus years of existence.

Unfortunately, when a sullen teenage changeling is flung out of Faerie and onto his doorstep, the long-suffering, wayward son of Titania knows his dreams of solitude are dust. Colin—or Lord Coileán, as he is known to the Faerie court—must track down Meggy, the love of his life, and figure out how her child ended up in Titania’s clutches to begin with.

But with family, it’s never simple. He finds Meggy, only to see her yanked into Faerie—and the doors between the realms slammed and locked behind her. Now, it’s not just her life at stake . . . but the fate of magic itself.

Always the loner, Colin reluctantly joins forces with an intensely stubborn wizard, a young priest-in-training who fancies himself a knight, and his half brother Robin (the last most definitely not by choice) on a quest to reopen the doors and restore the balance between the realms. And with exiled queen Mab plotting in the shadows to take Titania’s throne, and the wizards of the governing Arcanum hiding their own agenda, Colin can’t be sure whom to trust—or whether he’ll live long enough to see the mission through.




I read Stranger Magics because it sounded very interesting and Harper Voyager kindly offered me a digital review copy. I’m very appreciative, because I enjoyed reading this book a lot.

Quick Review: A fun tale with a good balance of action, humor, and drama. There’s also some romance for those of you who like love stories. Loved all the characters! I would definitely read another book in this series.

The Story

Colin is a half-fae living in our world. He works with a priest, Father Paul, to keep other fae from harming or upsetting humans, which doesn’t make him very popular among the fae. Colin’s mother is the queen, but they don’t get along either.

Father Paul is starting to train a replacement, Joey. In the first chapter, Colin and Joey work together for the first time.

Eunice Cooper is Colin’s nosy but well-meaning neighbor. When Colin gets home after working with Joey, he finds out that Eunice has saved a strange teenage girl. The girl identifies herself as Lady Moyna. At first Colin thinks she is a changeling. He sets out to find her real parents.

Things get more complicated, particularly when Moyna and her biological mother are sucked into Faerie, and Colin can’t reopen the gate. Something is sucking the magic from our world. Colin has to race to restore the magic and rescue the women.

The plot made sense. All the pieces fit together. There was only one place where I got a little confused, but I don’t want to get into details about it because the book isn’t even out yet.

The Characters

All of the characters were unique and well-developed. I really enjoyed how Joey was brought back into the story. He becomes an important character.

In addition to Colin, his mother, Joey, Moyna, Moyna’s mother, and Father Paul, we meet a lot of other great characters along the way. Toula is a wizard who also becomes important to the plot.

I grew attached to Colin, Joey, Eunice, and Toula. They are very likable. Colin has a bad reputation, but he’s a good guy. He’s a hero you want to see be happy. Joey is young and enthusiastic. He’s a lot of fun to read about. Eunice adds some comedic relief as well. Toula is more of a grumpy character, but she grows on you too.

My only negative note about the characters is that I didn’t feel Moyna’s reaction to Colin was consistent enough. Her prejudicial beliefs and hatred for him surfaces later, and I wondered why she hadn’t shown that kind of animosity toward him from the start.

The Writing

At first, I thought the first conversation between Father Paul and Colin at the beginning was a good way to work in some worldbuilding and backstory without being too obvious about it. And it would have been, if it hadn’t gone on for so long.

This becomes a recurring problem, in my opinion. The story comes to a halt during long scenes that only serve the purpose of either backstory or worldbuilding. Although the scenes are relevant–maybe not immediately recognizable as such–they slow down the overall pace.

I’m not a big fan of flashbacks to begin with, and this book contains a lot of them. I wrote several notes like: was this all necessary? Was this flashback relevant? I felt like the story got stuck in the mud every time it went into a long scene set in the past. The scenes were interesting, but made me impatient because I wanted to see what was happening now, not what happened in the past. I wasn’t bored because the flashbacks were well-written, but I didn’t feel like that level of detail was always needed to convey the information we needed to move forward in the story.

The prose, though, was excellent. I appreciated the writing style, setting descriptions, and humor. Also, I thought the author made a good choice using first person narration. I think it helped me understand Colin in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Despite my concern that the backstory and worldbuilding seemed dragged out at times in conversations, exposition, and flashbacks, I acknowledge that it is difficult in fantasy books to create an entire new world and people who come from there, particularly if they are very long-lived, without getting bogged down in those details. I don’t think I would have complained about it at all if it had been put into the story in smaller chunks.

Do I Recommend?

Yes! I enjoyed reading Stranger Magics a lot. I would have rated it five stars if I hadn’t gotten annoyed by the long flashbacks. I think what really makes this book great is the characterization. They’re all interesting, likable, and well-rounded. Even though I thought the pacing could have been improved, I loved the characters and overall story. When Ash Fitzsimmons writes a sequel, I will definitely read it.

If you like books about fae or magic, told from a male point-of-view, you should check out this book.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (B)


If this sounds like a book you would like to read, hop on over to my November giveaway where you can enter to win a Kindle book of Stranger Magics!


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About Jen Schaper

In addition to being a book blogger, I am a mother of three children, a retail backroom coordinator, and a wannabe writer (when I make time to do it).
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  1. Pingback: Interview with author Ash Fitzsimmons | BTH Reviews

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