Magical Imperative by Edith Pawlicki SPFBO 9 REVIEW

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So this is from the perspective of a woman from the race of the Unseen. She looks pretty human, she’s just a bit more lanky and elf-like than a standard human. She doesn’t have as many ribs, apparently, so she’s got this super tiny waist and she’s super pale with super black eyes. So, like, she should look a little unsettling but not so much so that someone’s going to go “that’s not a human”. She lives in modern times, in fact, at the time of these events Covid 19 us running rampant and people are wearing masks. I do think this is a risk writing this into a book because it’s going to date it and also many people still have burn out from Covid and don’t want it in their fantasy escapism. <cough> It’s me, I’m talking about me. Covid 19 was an exhausting time for me since I was in elder care at the time and the world was utter chaos. I kept going despite the backdrop because this was one of the better written entries from my batch. The prose was tight, the dialogue was natural, the scene changes were fluid, the pacing was great. This was a content bounce for me.

So, this Unseen woman has lived a fairly lonely and broken life, she hints at past trauma and she’s going to Japan to be a professor. Well, very soon after her arrival in Japan she meets another Unseen. This is not a normal occurrence and they both enter a trance like state where they are just infatuated with each other. It’s a calling or a binding, I can’t recall which term was used here, but it’s a forceful, primival, instinctual pull to mate. So, the moment these two meet they start kissing without even talking and end up back at his place and the next morning they are both released from this spell. The dude is super happy because he’s finally found a mate after years of no success. She’s freaking out because she doesn’t want a binding.

The binding connects their emotions, thoughts, and their binding is so strong they even feel the physical sensations the other is experiencing. Bindings come in different strength levels and theirs just happens to be at level 11. So, okay. Hot and bothered whirlwind romance are also not my thing. At least this has a reason, like a biological instinctual reason that overrides their conscious thoughts. So, like, I suppose I gave it a pass and kept going because I wanted to know if she was going to break out of this or not.

So, she goes to her first class and suddenly she understands Japanese way better than she should and accidentally starts speaking Japanese to the class — this is because her new mate happens to also be one of her students. An engaged student to another Unseen woman — enter love triangle. So, she’s 36 and this college kid must be in his early 20s at best. This is a little weird for me, and even the main character goes through it in her head that although it’s legal it’s creepy and could definitely cost her her job. So, it’s not like she’s skeevy on purpose, but I can’t help but be skeeved.

The third POV is from this other Unseen woman, and she starts thinking of Aurelie as a “jezebel.” I kept going just a bit further so I could get enough to write a review — and to this woman’s credit she gets over the jealousy and just becomes sad that her fiancé has now been “called” or “binding” with this other lady, knowing it’s just a natural turn of events and not anyone’s fault. So, it’s not totally written from the perspective of a bitter jilted ex, but I still was just not getting into this.

This book has every single trope I’m not a fan of, I really tried because this is truly a well written book but I just was not enjoying the content. I do recommend this for anyone who enjoys a Japanese setting, romances, and perhaps characters with darker or broken pasts/homes. I only got hints at it since I put this down at 20 percent. Again, it’s not the writing, or the setting, or really the characters, it was the plot I just wasn’t totally jiving with. Unfortunately this was a cut for me, but if this sounds like you might enjoy it go ahead and pick this one up!