My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A “Little Night Magic” is an enjoyable enough romp, but not something that’s likely to keep you on the edge of your seat.
The plot borrows pretty heavily from your standard “paranormal surprise” grab bag: Olivia, a waitress at Crazy Cousin Betty’s Waffle House, finds herself the unexpected possessor of newly-released magical power. Like most modern, “accessible” heroines, she’s a little chubby, a little awkward, and the best friend, not the pretty girl. Fed up with waitressing (and her one-way crush on the cook), Olivia decides to sell her house & back-pack around Europe.
It’s at precisely this moment when an odd, fairy-grandmother-esque woman arrives at the Waffle House & puts the whammy on Liv, courtesy of a stinky gym sock. Liv’s long-repressed magical power (what else?) is suddenly alive and kicking. Good thing, too, because Davina doesn’t just come bearing smelly socks; she also brings the news that Liv’s long-lost father and sister have been murdered by a dark!sorcerer, and Liv’s next on the chopping block.
Not to fear, however. Tobias, the crush-worthy cook, just so happens to be an under-cover member of the Magical Protection Squad (seriously, what else?!). Unsurprisingly, this is the main romantic conflict of the plot: he loves her! but he’s her bodyguard! but he loves her! etc.
Evil sorcerer Cain (great name choice, btw. Not at all obvious) arrives on the scene, and the whole town starts to do the whacky. The townsfolk begin to fall under the Persuasion of Evil, and more than one person is out for a little magically-induced revenge.
There’s a lot of amusing build-up here–not the least of which is Liv’s ability to turn inanimate objects into slightly-more animate forest creatures, such as Gibson the ceramic mug-bunny. Pretty soon, though, the predictability level goes from “romance novel” to “alphabet book.” None of the plot twists come as a surprise, and there’s more than a few illogical moments. Tobias the Magical Bodyguard, for instance, has the power to stop people’s hearts with his mind, and yet the villain keeps on being villainous, rather than just keeling over. Obviously they can’t defeat the baddie right away, but a moment’s discussion as to why it isn’t an option might have been a better choice.
The novel’s conclusion almost redeemed itself, but fumbled right before the touchdown, I’m sorry to say. The ending was more “Buffy” than “Breaking Dawn,” and it was a relief to see that actions have consequences. People who made bad choices, magically-nudged or not, have to live with the fall-out. Not everybody makes it out okay. There’s a token sex scene dropped in at the end, though, and it feels just that- token. As in, “the girl got the boy and there’s only three pages left, so they better have sex in here somewhere.”
A sequel is advertised at the end, and I’m not sure if I’d bother to pick that up. There is one book by this author (in collaboration with Jennifer Crusie and Lani Diane Craig that I would recommend, though, and that’s Dogs and Goddesses. Any time she feels like writing a sequel to that, I’m all over it.