Magical Beasts – Marie Bruce

Magical Beasts: Their Powers, Their Contribution and How to Call for Their Help
Marie Bruce
Quantum, 2004
190 pages

This is one of those that’s getting sold. It’s probably perfect for another person, but I wasn’t impressed.

It’s basically an animal magic cookbook. The bulk of it is formulaic spells for different species; I got bored reading them after a while because they were so similar. The format consisted mostly of: Light a few candles, maybe visualize an animal, say a rhyme a few times, and wait for the magic to happen. That’s not bad in and of itself, but there needed to be more variety. There were a few that really stood out, but for the most part it feels like the author was just trying to fill space.

Not only were there no citations, there wasn’t even a bibliography! I want to know where Bruce got her research–like how in the counting corvids rhyme the fact that it has nine verses automatically associates it with the Morrigan. If it’s UPG, fine–but otherwise, I want sources!

The book would have been improved by more lore in proportion to the spells. There’s also a dearth of anecdotes for a lot of these animals–what about her own experiences?

I got annoyed with some of the poli-witch stuff, too–getting all touchy over the term “hag-ridden” is a waste of time, IMO.

Also, “Book of Earth Shadows”? Come on–you can do better than that. The chapter on dragons reads like a D&D manual. And the idea of cat magic depending on the fur color is like saying only red-haired people can work magic.

There are some good parts. Her writing style is superb–there are very few books that are as easy to read and comprehend as this one. And I really enjoyed the discussions of natural history and animal behavior that were interjected–I could tell she’s worked with horses quite a bit. Most writers on animal magic don’t even mention animal psychology. Most impressive

And the spells themselves are nicely written and structured–as I said, they need some variety is all.

Overall, I’d say the book has potential, but needs work. If this had been marketed as an animal spellbook, it would have worked; but instead it seems like it was offered as a more complete guide to animal magic. The book was presented as one thing, ended up being another, and ended up suffering for the split.

Three pawprints out of five.

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