The Rebel Christian

Book Reviews

Smoke and Mirrors: Blackhollow Academy, Book I

By Jess Haines

By Jess Haines

The blurb to this story is spectacular. I simply could not wait to get through my heavy list of books to review so I could reach this novel. On one end, I was not disappointed. But there were points that I think impacted my rating.

The parts that I did like about the book was the idea of magic and the way it was used. I thought the academy was a cool idea and I loved the classes and training that Kimberly had to go through. The book felt more like an urban fantasy than a general fantasy because of the society that was depicted throughout the novel but that’s not a complaint at all.

Incorporating the magical creatures like dragons, crows, etc, also played a key role in the book but it played on your imagination as well. I think it would have been a shame to have such a magically themed book not include the beautiful creatures that so often appear in the genre. The fact that most of the creatures were shifters made the characters more appealing and gave them a second layer of depth.

The fighting between the sorcerers and the mages made for a great secondary storyline. I’ve read a good deal of fantasy but I don’t think I’ve come across a book that makes distinct differences between one magic user and another. I think that portion of the book intrigued me more than anything else, only rivaled by the budding romance between Kimberly and Cormac.

Cormac was a cool character, he was refreshing and kind which definitely made the story progression a little easier to get through. Some of the passages told through his POV helped explain the events that played out and also highlighted the development of his character in relation to Kimberly.

Now what lowered my rating on this book was, surprisingly, the romance. I did enjoy it and I think other fans of romance, especially paranormal romance, will enjoy it too. But what I didn’t like about it was Kimberly. She was annoying and didn’t quite try to understand Cormac or where he was coming from. Her reactions and exchanges with him made her seem childish for the most part and I kind of wished Cormac would man up and tell her to buzz off. The romance also took over two-thirds of the story. Then it was like, oh yeah, so back to this mage/sorcerer war going on. I think this book was a good introduction to a series but I feel like the author wasn’t quite sure if they wanted a complete romance with a little action/drama or an action novel with a little romance. So we kind of got this mixed up book with awkward little tidbits of both.

At the end of the day, I did like the book and I would totally recommend it to others. If you like supernatural romance and magic users, then this is definitely something you’ll enjoy. Plus, it’s got a pretty headstrong female lead, which I’m sure will entertain many audiences.

*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*