Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Best Kind of Magic

The Best Kind of Magic

Crystal Cestari
For ages 12 and up
Unabridged audiobook (MP3 CD)
Performed/read by: Jeannie Tirado
Audible Studios on Brilliance Audio, 2017   ISBN: 978-1543641349

Amber Sand is the daughter of a very skilled witch. She is around witches and other magical beings a great deal. Her best friend Amani has the ability to see people’s future, which is a pretty powerful and useful ability to have. Amber admits that she would love to be a witch herself. Who wouldn’t like to be able to “conjure up spells” that can make your life easier in all kinds of ways. The sad truth is that Amber is not a witch. Somehow the magical abilities in her family line passed her by. Mostly. She does have one ability that is magical in nature; Amber is a matchmaker. When she looks into people’s eyes she sees the people that they should end up being with in the long term. In other words she sees their soul mates.

Unfortunately, no one in Amber’s community really appreciates that her matchmaking ability is a gift, and it is a pretty amazing gift at that. After all, Amber is able to help people find true love and what could be better than that? Amber herself does not think that what she can do has true merit, and what makes things even more frustrating is that she cannot see her own future true love. Like all magical beings, Amber’s talent does not work on herself.

On most days Amber helps out in Windy City Magic, her mother’s magic shop, and she does well in school. She dreams of the day when she will finally finish school and hopefully be able to attend a culinary college so that she can fully explore the world of food, which is a world that she loves. Work and school is her life until the day when Charlie Blitzman, the son of Chicago’s mayor, asks to talk to her. Charlie’s dad and Amber’s mother are good friends, so Charlie’s request is not completely bizarre, but it is still strange. What does the most sought after boy in the school want with her?

It turns out that Charlie’s father, Mayor Blitzen, has fallen for a woman called Cassandra and she has disappeared. Amber now understands why the mayor visited Windy City Magic the day before; he wants Amber’s mother to find his missing fiancée. Now Charlie wants Amber to help him to ensure that Cassandra stays disappeared. Charlie is convinced that Cassandra only wants to marry the mayor for his money.

Amber explains that she is matchmaker and that she therefore does not have the ability to find Cassandra, nor the ability to make sure that she stays lost. What she can do is to find out if Cassandra is the mayor’s soul mate. Using a photograph that Charlie gives her, Amber is able to determine that the missing woman is not the mayor’s true love, and Charlie naturally feels relieved that his suspicions were not unfounded. He decides that what he has to do next is to find Cassandra before the mayor does and “convince her – or bribe her – not to come back.” Then Amber can “point Dad toward his real match.”

The young people manage to get a locket that belongs to Cass and they take it to Amber’s mother, who then recruits Amber’s friend Amani to use her precognition abilities to get a reading from the locket. In her vision Amani sees the interior of a restaurant or bar, and from her description Amber’s mother determines that it is the Black Phoenix, the premier Chicago hot spot for magical beings. It is the place where “the city’s creepy crawlies hang out.” Amber’s mother makes it clear that Amber must not visit the venue, but in the end Amber decides to go there anyway. She wants to help Charlie, and she cannot help wanting to prove to her mother, and perhaps to herself, that she, Amber, has an ability that is worth something. She never imagines that her forays into the magical beings underworld could end up being very dangerous.

This delightfully entertaining tale introduces listeners to a world where witches, trolls, and other fairytale beings live shoulder to shoulder with unmagical humans. We meet a teenager who always feels that she is on the periphery of the magical world she was born into, and who so badly wants to be accepted by her peers, especially her mother. We also meet a girl who does not fully appreciate that what she has, her gift for being able to see true love, is a powerful and a good thing, even if she cannot use her gift to find her own true love.

Written from Amber’s point of view, the narrative in this story is painfully honest, often funny, and utterly charming. Adventure, a mystery, a voyage of self-discovery, and romance come together to give listeners a memorable reading experience.