Review: Droplets of Magic
Thursday, May 5, 2022

Droplets of Magic (Unstable Magic, #4)Droplets of Magic by Emily Bybee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Droplets of Magic is the forth book in the Unstable Magic series, but I didn't have any trouble diving right in and following along. There were references to events that clearly happened in earlier books, but those only added to the feeling of the story being set in a wider, more intricate world.

This book is a love-at-first-sight story--a trope that I don't tend to like because it often forces the characters into an emotional intimacy that I have trouble believing--but the character interactions in this book were still believable and the romance played second-fiddle to the main plot, so I won't hold that against it.

The main character is a Defect--a witch who can't use magic in the usual way. In Kira's case, she can only manipulate water, and not always well. If she gets upset, she's likely to cause a downpour. Since Defects are hunted by the magic council as a threat to the secrecy of witch society, Kira has been on the run and in hiding for most of her life. After losing her mother to cancer, she's been on her own and has some definite trust issues. I think Kira was portrayed well, and her internal (and external) conflicts were quite believable. As I mentioned above, insta-attraction tends to bother me, but at least Kira didn't let her hormones override her judgement.

There were a few issues that threw me momentarily out of the story, but none so badly that I had any problem diving back in. One was the sheer number of times Kira popped her knuckles. I get that it was a character affectation, but sometimes she did it two or three times in the space of a single dialogue exchange. I'm not sure it's even physically possible to crack joints that much.

Another issue I had was with Kira finding her "element." This was a real head-scratcher for me because my first thought was, "Well duh, her element is water." But no, it turns out they were referring to the word in a more scientific sense, as in the periodic table of elements. I also didn't understand why she only had a couple of elements to pick from. The periodic table is huge. So that's one place that I definitely floundered. I hope those issues were explained in earlier books, but even if they were previously covered it would have been nice to drop a note in this one with a quick explanation. Maybe even have Kira have the same element = water moment that I did as a first-time reader.

The final trip up I had will be hard to explain without spoilers, but I'll do my best. At one point Kira and friends are stuck in a magical minefield, literally. The mines react to magic, and anyone magical, which they know because a magically charged pebble sets one off. At this point I figured, "Just charge some more pebbles and toss them to find the mines. You already know that works." Yeah, they didn't do that. I love the way they eventually ended up getting out of the minefield, but the first few missteps were pretty painful and I just wanted to slap them for ignoring the obvious.

Those three things aside, the rest of the book was pretty smooth sailing, with a fast pace, engaging characters, and wonderfully expressive writing. I'm excited to read the 5th book in the series, and will definitely go back to check out the previous three. ;)

Note: I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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