Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On Cabals: A Review of Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong

I'm sure this happens to every serious reader now and then: You come across a book that has nothing really wrong with it, but that for you personally is like pulling teeth to get through. For me, this was one such book. After close to two weeks of struggling, I finally gave up and started skimming. So I want to warn you to take my opinions on this with a grain of salt, since I didn't read very closely. At the same time, I feel obligated to share my less then stellar reading experience in the name of honest reviewing.

This is book four of Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Otherworld series, but it's the second one with Paige as the narrator/protagonist. In this one, the teenage children of Cabal members (basically the supernatural mafia) are being murdered. Paige and Lucas (who is the black sheep son of a Cabal leader) get roped into solving the murders and catching the killer.

Positive Comments:

I really like Lucas as a character, and there's plenty of him in this book. He's an interesting hero to me, because he isn't a strong brutish alpha as is so typical in fantasy/paranormal. Instead he's an intellectual, somewhat nerdy character who happens to be a sorcerer (and a lawyer). His presence kept me wanting to read through the tedium.

I felt the most engaged in the story when some of the cast from the previous books showed up--Adam, Elena, Clay, etc. Maybe it's a bad sign when you start reading a book for the secondary characters alone, but that's how I felt.

The concept of the story is pretty decent. I thought having Paige forced to work with a Cabal would make for a lot of interesting character interactions and lead to some development on her part. Had the book not gotten bogged down in other stuff, this premise could have made it a winner.

Critical Comments:

In my review of Dime Store Magic I state that it took me a long time to get through the book, but I wrote it off as being my own fault for getting busy and distracted. But I had the same problem with Industrial Magic, so I'm forced to conclude that it's not's the book. Some books are page turners and have to be ripped from my hands so that I'll feed and shower myself now and then. With other books, I have to talk myself into reading. This one was somewhere in the middle, but dangerously close to the latter. I just didn't feel immersed in the story.

This is not a problem that I experienced with Bitten or Stolen, so I'm inclined to think that Paige is a big part of the issue. I don't dislike Paige, but she just isn't very interesting. Her actions are predictable and often stupid. She really doesn't seem like the best person for and investigation job. Dime Store Magic was more believable because Paige was more of a victim fighting against circumstances. In this one she volunteers for a task that, to me, should have gone to another character.

My other complaint is that the plot seems unnecessarily bulky. It's a 500 page book, and about 150 of those pages could easily have been snipped away. For one thing, there are a lot of  "eating breakfast" ,"checking on Savannah","getting on the air plane", "insert mundane task here" paragraphs that really don't need to be included. But more importantly, the central plot is just not as fast paced as I would like it to be.

Lastly, I'm not a person who likes murder mysteries, and I tend to be impatient with them. If you do like murder mysteries, you probably won't mind this book. For me, reading about characters I don't know getting killed is not very motivating or very exciting. That sounds awful, but it's just how I feel.

So, Industrial Magic was really not a winner for me in any sense. I still like Kelley Armstrong, and I'm not ready to give up on the series yet, but this one did not thrill me. 2 stars.


  1. One of the worst things I can imagine is having to force yourself to keep reading a book. It's not so bad that you must stop but not good enough to fly through so you're stuck somewhere between boredom and guilt. I haven't read much Kelley Armstrong but she seems to get raves reviews so I appreciate your honestly. Especially since you've done it without being overly emotional like I tend to do!

  2. Lan, guilt is a really good word for the way this book made me feel. When a book simply sucks, I don't feel bad about having a tough time getting through it. But when it's a perfectly serviceable book that I happen not to like, I wonder what the heck is wrong with me.

  3. Even though I adored both Bitten and Stolen, I never made it to the other books in the series, maybe because I loved Clay and Elena so much that I just didn't want to move on to the other characters:) I think it's hard to move on to a different set of heroes/heroines when you had such a close relationship with the first set, I think inevitably it would be harder to connect to them. Awesome review:)

  4. Jenny, I do love Clay and Elena, but on some level I didn't mind taking a break from them to explore other characters. I liked Dime Store Magic. My problem with this book was the circumstances, or the context in which Paige's character was being used. She didn't fit the story for me, if that makes any sense at all.


Thoughtful comments are appreciated! I always respond to them, and I usually return the favor! Happy reading!

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