Mystic by Jason Denzel
Every now and again publishers send me books unlooked-for – TOR do it to me a lot, and I’m falling unhelpfully behind as a result. Because, somehow, each and every blurb on the back of these unlooked-for TOR books seems to have a hook or story idea that completely captures my attention. During the beginning of the year, when new fantasy releases are a little rarer, I sometimes find myself with a bit more time on my hands to read these books I haven’t requested, and that was how I came to read Mystic by Jason Denzel.
Jason Denzel is a name many fantasy readers will know as the founder of Dragonmount, a community and news site that is dedicated to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I believe Mystic is his debut novel (though I could be wrong), and though it does read as a younger person’s debut novel, the underlying story kept me rooted to my couch across two 3-hour periods of reading.
Mystic is a book that follows two teenagers, set in a fantasy world where magic is a much more limited resource than in other books. Denzel has woven in a lot of language that feels very rooted in this world, though it might seem strange to first-time readers – “Quick as a luck’n”, “We shouldn’t dawdle like ganders”, “dunder” as a form of insult, and mothers and fathers are called mhathirs and fathirs. And the political atmosphere of the world in which we are placed is quite fascinating, and I look forward to further books in which we expand beyond the little sphere we are constrained to in Mystic.
The book reads very fast. Despite my copy looking like a normal sized hardcover book, the font size and how much writing is actually printed on a page – combined with the writing – mean I raced through this book. When I was finished, I wondered if I had not just read a novella – and I’m still fairly certain that’s about the length of what I read.
I was quite impressed with the story as a whole, and while I felt numerous times like the main characters were nothing but stupid and horny teenagers, there is an argument to be made that that is exactly what teenagers are – stupid and horny. As a male, I can’t speak to just how excited Pomella, our main female lead, was to get into the pants of her cute male friends, as it goes beyond any experiences I may or may not have had. But the overriding feeling I got from these characters was that, while they were brave and resourceful and willing to put their lives on the line for good, they were making a lot of it up as they went along – or simply falling into the right place at the right time.
And I enjoyed that. I enjoyed finally reading a book about teenagers who didn’t seem to have the mental fortitude, wisdom, and experience of an adult three times their age. While you’re left wanting to smack the characters over the back of the head for their stupidity and immaturity, that’s also the same reaction normal teenagers give me now that I’m in my 30s, so I guess it’s right on the money.
Mystic by Jason Denzel is sure to be a hit with a wide variety of readers, young and old, for its imaginative scope and loving attention to its characters. Denzel weaves a quick and beautiful story that holds you tight until you turn the last page – with a fantastic final revelation that really makes you smile.
This Mystic book review was written by Joshua S Hill
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