Review: Wizard Undercover by K.E. Mills
Do you like wit? how about magical realism? Do you enjoy urban fantasy with a bit of a steampunk aesthetic?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, get thee to a bookstore (or library I guess) and get ahold of some K.E. Mills!
A quick general background on the series: the characters in this book are for the most part, well-rounded and relateable. There’s a fascinating Victorian sort of science behind the magic in the universe, which proves a help and a hindrance to the events in the series so far, and allows for a heady mix of science fiction and fantasy tropes to co-exist. Mills has an amazingly organic way of revealing character backgrounds. Information comes out in such a way that you feel like you’re having a conversation with a new friend – you get the gist of what has happened but not in a “sit down and ask pointed questions” kind of way.
This book is a lot more serious and political than its predecessors – but so is Gerald. This leads to a different pace than the first three novels. There’s been some definite character evolution, which is great to read but also a bit sad. Our cohort are feeling a bit more world-weary than when we first met them. There’s a real shift in tone and pace with this one. It fits with the overall story arc but I didn’t find it quite as page-turning as the previous three.
I really enjoyed the fact that Melissande and Bibbie were involved in the main storyline (though in the last 2 books Mills did a fabulous job of weaving subplots together). In this book, Reg and Monk are thrown together and the results are seriously engaging. My only complaint character-wise has to do with the romantic subplots that have been building since book 2. Monk and Melissande I am totally behind; their connection is realistic and their relationship complicated enough not to feel trite. Gerald’s feelings for Bibbie (best friend’s attractive sister?) is certainly understandable. However this book has some development with the Bibbie/Gerald relationship that leaves me slightly apprehensive as to what will happen in the next book.
Speaking of science fiction tropes, I would really like to see the next book explore more fully Reg’s past and altered dynamic since she – SPOILER if you haven’t read the first 3 books! – isn’t the original Reg. I’d also like to get a better understanding of why Sir Alec decided to dip his toes into political waters by SPOILER – leaving parts of the grimoire magics in Gerald’s potentia. I had gathered Sir Alec was supposed to be a bit more above/outside politics and the effect of this decision on Gerald has and will definitely impact his janitorial work in a bad way. I would love a more thorough explanation of Sir Alec’s thought process on this one.
Book 5 is slated for release either late 2013 or early 2014, and rest assured I will be first in line for it!