Magic Parcel: The Gathering Storm
By Frank English
Jimmy is trapped in the realm of the Omni with no one to help him unless Ursula can learn to control her raw and unrefined powers. For the natives of Omni this intrusion of otherworldlings could be seen as a potentially destructive threat to their stability and possibly even their own existence.
Magic Parcel: The Gathering Storm follows on directly from the events of The Awakening and there is little introductory text so anyone reading this book without reading the previous novel first will be confused, with many references to past events, places and people. If you are planning on reading this book it really does make sense to read Magic Parcel: The Awakening beforehand.
The book tells the story of the continued adventures of Jimmy and Ursula in the alternative universe of Omni with Jimmy having changed much since he first set foot in this alternative dimension while Ursula continues to grow in magical power and ability. A number of other characters make a welcome return too along with a few surprises. There is however a real lack of characterisation with most of the characters appearing as two dimensional cardboard cut-outs while the minimal development leaves the reader with a really flat feeling.
Some of these characters also possess game changing powers which are used indiscriminately and often without warning, dampening any sense of tension, causing the plot to stall and nosedive. A good example of this is one of the antagonists dying early on but in such an abrupt manner that prevented any reaction from the reader. I do understand that this magic power thing is all part of the story arc but it just didn't work for me.
The principle protagonist no longer behaves like the 10 year old child we met in The Awakening - due to his experiences within Omni but the change appears much more dramatic than really needed and distances the character from the reader, how can you relate to a 10 year old that doesn't act like a 10 year old?.
There is also the way that sections are narrated - there are italised sections that partly explain to the reader what's going on and this shouldn't ever really be needed. Adding content to explain the plot points indicates that the author isn't confident the reader will understand what's happening but not only does it derail the plot and lower the suspension of disbelief but it also grates on the readers sensibilities. It is however clear that the author does have a lot of experience in teaching children and young adults and some of this ability does transfer to the pages of the book, saving it from becoming unreadable.
The plot itself is quite interesting but for me there was far too much use of massively powerful magic being thrown around and characters acting without any real thought or insight into why they are doing what they are. As a result I found this a very difficult read and not really one I could recommend.
Written on 20th June 2011 by Ant .