Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin, by Elle Carter Neal (19:51)

IOD-MadisonLaneToday we see that I flame out hard on teen romance elements.

What I gleaned about the story: When Maddie’s cool and slightly kooky time travelling aunt gives her a magic wish-granting wand to try, who would have guessed that she’d accidentally use it to plop herself deep into a Hollywood drama opposite her favorite heart-throb actor? (I honestly believe there’s more to it than that, but that’s where it was sitting when I pulled the plug.)

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WTF #1: “What kind of trouble at the airport?”

Analysis: Good question. What airport? This is the first mention of any airports or trouble since the book began. I had to skip back twice to see if I’d missed something, but I hadn’t. I think it’s supposed to be a jump ahead to a later point in time, picking up the action in mid-conversation, but if so, it was not signalled. At the very least it needs a transition sentence. But more likely, a full scene break is required. Without knowing what the author intended, I can’t be sure.

Note: There’s a jet-setting old aunt character who wanders around with a time-travelling umbrella, and I quite like the whole Mary Poppins meets Dr. Who vibe she has going. She did not stay on stage for very long. but something tells me she’ll be coming back.

WTF #2: Wish fulfilment that really is wish fulfilment

Analysis: Has getting a gift-granting device and then accidentally making a silly wish become a cliché yet? Upon receiving a wish-granting magic wand, our hero promptly forgets she has it and then casually wishes she could be acting in a movie with her Hollywood hunk-o-muffin dream boy. Well guess what happens?

I rolled my eyes hard here, and fear this is venturing into the sort of teen romance territory that sets my teeth on edge. I’m not suggesting that the novel is a Mary Sue projection of the author’s own fantasies, and it’s possible that this is actually very clever – a wish fulfilment story that is literally about a wish getting fulfilled. But either way, all this wishing and heart-throbby breathlessness is hitting all my yech-buttons. Still, I’ll soldier on, because you never know, the time-travelling aunt may come back at any moment. Wish me luck.

WTF #3: Kaden wants me to meet him! thrummed on a loop in her head.

Analysis: No luck on the auntie front, and the worst kind of it on the palpitations and breathless angst front. Sadly, I just can’t see past it. The prose is excellent, some of the characters and images are quite charming, but it’s so entirely centered in my genre discomfort zone that I can’t possibly stay immersed. It’s well written and has a couple of promising characters, so if you like this genre, give it a try. But I can’t see the writing forest for all the genre trope trees that keep smacking me upside the head as they go by. And if I can’t stay in the book, for whatever reason, then I am certainly no longer immersed.

Spindown, by George Wright Padgett (23:06)
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About the author

Jefferson Smith is a Canadian fantasy author, as well as the founder, chief editor and resident proctologist of ImmerseOrDie. With a PhD in Computer Science and Creativity Systems compounded by a life spent exploring most art forms for fun and profit, he is underqualified in just about everything. That's why he writes.