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Audio Book Review: Academy of Unpredictable Magic by Sadie Moss

In my “post-career” life I own and operate a specialty medical courier company for which I make 12-14 hour drives once or twice a week. To complicate matters, I’m on-call 24/7 and most often drive through the night. As you can imagine this presents a real challenge for staying awake. My solution has been to buy audiobooks from Amazon’s Audible.

At any given time I usually have three books in process: a dense non-fiction book for when I’m wide awake, a moderately dense book that can be either advanced fiction or lighter non-fiction for when I’m a little bit sleepy, and breezy fiction for when I’m too tired and my brain is not up to a challenge. Currently, I’m working through a 900-page volume on The Enlightenment, the unabridged version of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, and an unchallenging book series by Sadie Moss. This review is for the first series of books I listened to by her, The Academy of Unpredictable Magic.

One more preface note, I tend to pick books that are long since I pay the same for a short three-hour long book as I do for a massive forty-hour-long book. As the whole point is to eat up the time while driving through the night, I almost always buy long books. In this case, The Academy of Unpredictable Magic was sold as a ‘box set,’ that is forty hours long. That is why I bought it, not because I’d ever heard of this author. In the past, buying books I’ve never heard of by this method has been hit and miss. The results have been books that are hidden gems to a book series I had to quit after ten or twelve hours because it was so terrible.

As I first began listening to this book series, I thought I’d bought a rip-off of the Harry Potter books. It involves a world where there are magic users who have their own society right under the nose of the larger non-magical world. It also revolves around the adventures of a group of students who are going through a school of magic. There is simply no way to miss that this author was inspired by the Harry Potter books; however, this book series is not simply a cheap imitation. Rather, while the world is clearly inspired by Rowling's work, it has merit on its own and is well worth the time.

Right off we find the new students at the Academy of Unpredictable Magic are not kids about to enter puberty, but rather college-age people. And significantly, it is not the asexual world of Harry Potter, these people have sex (what a concept college kids having sex, right?). More specifically, the author, Sadie Moss, writes very explicit sex scenes that move the plot forward. While these books could be called erotica, they are not simply a series of sexual encounters held together by a minimal storyline (like porn movies).

A third important distinction of this book series is that it is like my own writing in that it couches a powerful socio-political message in an erotic wrapper. The Academy of Unpredictable Magic is a book series about the oppression of a minority group who are seen as dirty and unnatural by mainstream society. In this case, it is the mainstream magical community’s prejudice against those who have an “abnormal’ form of magic. Only someone who is willfully missing the point won’t see that those with “unpredictable magic” are a stand-in for the LGBT community in our own world. While a couple of times this message comes across to me as a little heavy-handed, I can understand that. After all, I know full well that in Final Freedom, my attacks on the Christian Right are sometimes heavy-handed as well. That is often the bane of people who write with passion.

This series of novels is written in the first person by a female protagonist. As a male, at first, it felt a little odd to me how the author (protagonist) dwells on the hot men and their bodies. For each of the protagonist's men, we get a long description of their tall fit frames, well-defined muscles, and facial features. One thing that rings true to me is how the author goes into how each of the men smells and how their smell turns her on. It rings a bell to me because Paula has always been aroused by men who smell good.

In contrast, the author all but completely ignores descriptions of the bodies of female characters. Even for the protagonist, we get no more description than she is 5’ 8” and has brown hair. This is particularly noticeable during the extended sex scenes where we get descriptions of the men’s “thick and heavy” dicks, but not a word on whether the female is heavy or thin, has “A” cup breasts or “DD.” There are a number of highly descriptive sex scenes, with wonderful narratives about the protagonist's physical reaction to different sex acts. As I was listening to the story, some of the descriptions go on for over ten minutes. Another interesting note about the sex is that in several of the sex scenes, the author describes how much it turns the protagonist on for the male to dominate in bed; yet, it was crystal clear that the male dominance is a turn-on because the female still retains ultimate control. So the man’s possessiveness and acts of sexual control are implicitly at the woman’s forbearance. Should she want him to stop he would. The message is that men need not be weak to show respect to their female partners.

One last note. As this book series is an audiobook, a word about the narration is due. Unsurprisingly, the narrator is a woman and she does an excellent job of bringing the text to life with different voices and inflections. Sadly a few times she mispronounces words which grates on me.

Overall, this book series is what I wish all sexy fiction would be. It entertains while having a higher purpose and it helps men know what women (or at least the author) would like sex to be like in an idealized world.

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