REVIEW: The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos

The Official Description: A magic-infused YA novel about friendship, first love, and feeling out of place that will bewitch fans of Rainbow Rowell and Maggie Stiefvater.

Living in a small town where magic is frowned upon, Sam needs his friends James and Delia—and their time together in their school’s magic club—to see him through to graduation.

But as soon as senior year starts, little cracks in their group begin to show. Sam may or may not be in love with James. Delia is growing more frustrated with their amateur magic club. And James reveals that he got mixed up with some sketchy magickers over the summer, putting a target on all their backs.

With so many fault lines threatening to derail his hopes for the year, Sam is forced to face the fact that the very love of magic that brought his group together is now tearing them apart—and there are some problems that no amount of magic can fix.

Just the facts: Young Adult, magical world, contemporary, queer content

What if you had magical powers when you were in high school!!!? Would that make your life better or even more complicated? For Sam, it’s a little of both. – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: I wasn’t sure what this book was about when I requested it. It had appeared on quite a few lists as having queer content. I’m all about queer content so I requested it when I saw it on Edelweiss.

I have mixed feelings about this novel. Let’s start with the good stuff. I really enjoyed the writing style. It was great: tight prose, and well-edited. As far as the characters went, I really liked Sam. Most of the novel was told from his perspective. He’s struggling with an on-going crush he has on his best friend. It’s been made worse by a couple of strange moments they’ve had together. Sam hasn’t the foggiest if his best friend, James has feelings for him or is completely straight.

In the world of The Fascinators, there is magic. It’s not really explained in any great detail, but it seems as though most people are born with magical ability. There are some references made to one’s magical ability being tied to how “in tune” you are with emotions and feelings, but it’s never made very clear. I wished that the author had put a bit more time into explaining the nature of the magic that people have within them.

There is a cult-like organization in the book. Their purpose seems to be to steal magic from people. Again, it’s not really clear what type of magic they are after or if they have an end goal for what they want to do with the magic they are after.

At the center of the book, is the longstanding friendship between Sam, James, and Delia. They’ve known each other for a long time and they are part of a magic club together. Things have started to go a little sideways for them and it seems to be because of confusion. Sam’s confused about his feelings for James. James seems to be drifting away from his friends and towards the Church that he previously wasn’t involved in. Delia is so obsessed with magic and getting into the best school that she doesn’t seem to have time for her friendships anymore.

Denver appears early on in the book and I think he was my favorite character. He’s the new kid when he shows up for the Fascinators meeting. It’s clear from the beginning that he is interested in Sam but Sam’s mind is still on James. He does provide a bit of a prompt for Sam to try and get to the bottom of his feelings.

I did like that the fact that there were gay characters in the book wasn’t the plot… it was just who they were. It was authentic and natural and a delight to read.

I felt as though I didn’t really have enough from all the characters though. I wanted to know more about them, to learn whether or not I liked them or didn’t like them. They felt a little flat to me at times though.

The thing that most unsettled me was the way the book finished. I was reading along, had a real feel for the pace and then suddenly, bam! the book was finished. I don’t want to give away the ending, but I genuinely thought that I had missed something. I flipped back a few pages and reread parts and then found that no, I hadn’t missed anything. I’m not sure if the author is setting this up to be the first book in a series but there are certainly some things that aren’t resolved by the end of the book.

All in all, this is a good read. Some of the things that I didn’t like may well be resolved if there’s a continuation planned in the future.

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) Descriptions of an abusive relationship, homophobia, name-calling, betrayal.

Readalikes: Other stories that are similar or give the same feel.

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos from Harper Teen via Edelweiss in exchange for an unbiased review.

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