DNF Review: The Magic Shop

Magic Shop

  • Author: Justin Swapp
  • Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I tried to get through this book.  It started out alright, but it wasn’t long until I was forcing myself through a chapter, then putting it down to read something else until I picked it back up the next day and tried again.  I suffered through three chapters like that, attempting to put myself in a frame of mind the average Middle-Grade reader might have.  I thought my adult mindset was the problem.  I talked it over with the Boyfriend and came to the conclusion that it’s not me and my adult brain.  It’s the story.

More to the point, it’s the main character, Marcus.  There are likeable characters I can’t stand (Captain America), and there are unlikeable characters I love (Lestat).  Then there are characters like Marcus.  He’s a spoiled brat.  He’s rude not only to his teacher but also to his grandparents, who are more than forgiving of his bad behavior.  He doesn’t break rules for the sake of morality or because he thinks it’s the only way to solve a problem.  He just breaks them, refuses to listen to other’s advice and his conscience telling him he shouldn’t do whatever it is he’s doing, and then gets angry when he gets into trouble or has to face the consequences.  I don’t expect all Middle-Grade characters to be copies of Harry Potter, and I’ve even questioned whether or not H.P.’s character is realistic.  While I think Marcus is a realistic character, he’s exactly the type of kid I hated while I was growing up.  On top of that, his bad behavior and poor decisions are what drive the plot.  Every horrible thing that occurs up to the point that I quit reading was a result of Marcus’ actions.  That’s just plain poor writing, and it doesn’t make for an enjoyable story.  My most constant feeling was one of frustration.

I would love to say that I think the story would have eventually gotten better, but I read a quarter of the book (according to my Kindle), which is over 500 pages long.  A story that hasn’t improved after 125+ pages (when I usually only give a book 50 pages to grab me) leaves me with no doubt that my decision to stop reading was a good one.  It also makes me question all the four-star ratings The Magic Shop received on Amazon and Goodreads and the comparison to Harry Potter and Percy Jackson in the synopsis.  While I’m not going to assume that Middle-Grade readers won’t enjoy this book or be able to relate to Marcus, I didn’t and couldn’t.