Book Review – Magic or Die by J.P Jackson

Thanks to IndiGo Marketing & Design for the opportunity to read and review!

Inner Demons #1
Publisher: NineStar Press
Pages: 252
Characters: James/Isaiah
POV: 1st
Sub-Genre: Paranormal

James Martin is a teacher, a powerful Psychic, and an alcoholic. He used to work for the Center for Magical Research and Development, a facility that houses people who can’t control their supernatural abilities, but left after one of his students was killed, turning to vodka to soothe his emotional pain. The problem is he still has one year left on his contract.

When James returns to the CMRD to fulfill the rest of his contract, he finds himself confronting the demons of his past and attempting to protect his new class from a possible death sentence, because if they don’t pass their final exams, they’ll be euthanized.

James also discovers that his class isn’t bringing in enough sponsors, the agencies and world governments who supply grants and ultimately purchase graduates of the CMRD, and that means no profit for the facility. James and his students face impossible odds—measure up to the facility’s unreachable standards or escape.

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This book is an interesting start to a series I will need to keep an eye out for. I liked that the characters are flawed, and fighting their own demons as well as coming to terms with their powers, and lives. The book’s language is full of figurative language, very descriptive, and the scenes are easy to visualize.

The magic system is complex and very well thought out, and I enjoyed the world building which is one of the big strengths of the story. Each character has his, or her, own powers to master, and I liked how they developed as individuals with their different personalities becoming more fleshed out as they learnt more about their powers. I also liked how James in realizing he was attracted to Isaiah, backed off because of the teacher/student dimension, yet came back to it as it became very obvious that Isaiah is a consenting adult. I would have felt squicky if that had not been brought up and worked through. Also, considering James’ past, and his previous relationship with Cory, it would have been odd if he hadn’t tried to fight the attraction.

I also liked how James figures out the truth about his students. This is a world with consequences, which makes the odds against this group feel very real. It makes sense that different powerful organizations would see people with powers as something to be used, and to make money.

The tension rises as the story progresses, and I was turning pages toward the end especially as I had to find out what happens next. Considering how the story ends, I hope there’s not too long a wait until book two in the series.

I’d recommend Magic or Die to readers who like paranormal stories with characters who grow and develop, are still learning about their powers, and inhabit a world with a well-thought-out magic system. 4 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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