New Books: More Than Magic

More Than Magic
By Kathryn Lasky

Something bad is happening to Rory, and Ryder is the only one who can stop it.

When Ryder’s late mom created cartoon character Rory, she was determined that she would be a brave, bold hero instead of a princess who needed saving. But now there are new plans for Ryder’s mom’s legacy, and they’re all about handsome princes and high-heeled shoes. Ryder suspects that her dad’s new girlfriend has something to do with Rory’s transformation. A little magic allows Ryder to team up with Rory in her animated world, and with the help of their friends, the girls team up to keep Rory from getting sucked into the princess trap.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have Issues with princesses, so I appreciated the fact that this book tackled that trope head-on. I loved seeing a couple of girls fight the princess-ing of female adolescence. I wish that Ryder and Rory (and the rest of the characters in this book) had been written more deeply—they were likable enough, but they felt a little one-dimensional. The magic in the book wasn’t well explained, but that never bothers me—it’s magic, right? I’m always ready to believe in magic. I liked the idea of characters from the real world being reflected in the animated world, and I wish Lasky had played more with this idea. And I was glad when Ryder made a real-life friend, but that friendship felt tacked-on rather than earned.

If you loved the vividly imagined, nuanced, epic world of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, be prepared: This book is totally different from that, and if you come to it expecting that kind of world-building, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you come to it looking for a fun, slightly feminist story for younger readers, I think this could be a fun choice. It’s not a great book, but it’s an enjoyable read.