Magical Intelligence by M.K. Wiseman #BookReview #BlogTour

When you are a member of Britain’s first team of wizard spies, every mission might be your last. But as the dawning of the 20th century draws ever nearer, magic grows weak. Violectric Dampening, the clash of man-made electricity with the Gifts of magekind, threatens M.I.’s existence. And if that isn’t enough, they’ve now been discharged from their own government. Obsolete. Distrusted.
And now hunted by one of their own.
Myra Wetherby has always feared her so-called fits, strange visions of people and places that she cannot explain. It is the emotional manipulation, however, a strange empathic connection to those around her, which threatens her very sanity. A danger to her family, Myra runs away, falling straight into the hands of the newly ousted Magical Intelligence team. Who just so happen to need an ability like hers.
Which makes Myra one of them . . . whether she likes it or not.

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Magical Intelligence today. Many thanks to M.K.Wiseman and Rachel Gilbey from Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me and for my digital copy of the novel.

Magical Intelligence is the first instalment of a planned eight book series and there is a good mix of information which is revealed here and that which is held back for later. Although the lead character, Myra Wetherby is just fourteen years old, this urban fantasy YA novel doesn't sugarcoat events in what turns out to be a dark and dramatic read.
At the start of the book, Myra is living in an orphanage having run away from home after years of medical tests and treatment for her mysterious fits and dreams. During what she thinks of as one of her strange visions, she comes to realise that what she is experiencing isn't just in her head, but before she has much chance to contemplate what this means, Aiden - the man who rescues her from the danger she finds herself in -  whisks her away from America to a secret location in London. Here she learns of the existence of Magical Intelligence - a group of wizard spies who until recently have worked for the British government. The story takes place towards the end of Victoria's reign and it turns out that this time of great technological advancement may eventually lead to the demise of mages as their magical gifts are seriously weakened by electricity; a phenomenon known as Violectric Damping.
Myra also discovers that most young mages aren't coming into their full powers and must take a special elixir to ward of the effect of the Dampening but it is unfortunately in short supply having been invented and now withheld from them by their bitter enemy, Silas. However, she is different as she isn't affected by electricity and her own abilities as an Empath both enthral and concern the M.I. team who need to decide whether she can be trusted. Although there is some world-building here, this first book in a series mostly concentrates on introducing various characters, particularly those in M.I and they are brought to life well. Myra not only has to contend with learning about her own capabilities and the dangerous world she now inhabits, she also has to cope with the confused emotions of an inexperienced teenage girl. I must admit to finding a few scenes here a little uncomfortable and would have preferred her character to have been a couple of years older, Nothing untoward actually happens but there is some ambiguity regarding Aiden's interest in her and part of the storyline also suggests she is being used as bait in order to extract information from an 'ord' (ordinary non-magical person) man who is attracted to her. I actually liked Aiden very much and his ability as the truth-teller is fascinating. He is an honourable, trustworthy character so any misgivings I had were slight, I just felt certain scenes would have worked better if Myra was a little older. I much preferred her relationship with Ben and hope that this is something that will be explored further as the series develops, he is an intriguing character with abilities which are a curse as much as a blessing.
There are some very dark scenes in Magical Intelligence and little doubt that Myra's new life is going to completely change how she views the world. I thought the moments where she is torn between being horrified and excited by what she learns were especially interesting and an enticing prospect for how her character may develop in the future. There are suggestions throughout that for all her naivety, there is a ruthless streak in her too. As an organisation under threat, much of the wizarding undercover work here is carried out in order to protect themselves so I'm curious to see whether Myra will discover more about the role wizard spies play in the defence of the country in the future and how mages cope in a world increasingly depended on electricity. I would have liked to have learned more about her relationship with her family too, particularly exactly why she ran away and I welcomed the little hints that this is something which will be expanded upon later.
After a shocking confrontation which tests them all to their physical and emotional limits, the next steps for MI look to be most uncertain. Magical Intelligence is an interesting beginning to the series with good character development and intriguing questions left to be answered in the future. I enjoyed reading it and look forward to reading more.

Magical Intelligence will be published on 5th May 2020 and can be purchased from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

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About the Author

M. K. Wiseman has degrees in animation/video and library science – both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, her office is a clutter of storyboards and half-catalogued collections of too, too many books. (But, really, is there such a thing as too many books?) When she’s not mucking about with stories, she’s off playing bra─Ź or lying in a hammock in the backyard of her Wisconsin home that she shares with her endlessly patient husband.
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