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Magic University 2: The Tower and the Tears by Cecilia Tan


We need to get two things out of the way before we start this book. First, this is not a romance, despite being published by Ravenous Romance’s Paranormal Romance line, Fantastica. Second, originality isn’t always everything it’s cracked up to be.

Kyle Wadsworth is attending Veritas (Latin for “Truth” btw, as in “in vino, veritas”). It’s inside Harvard, but it isn’t the Harvard we think we know. It’s a magical university inside a university. Kyle is a “special one,” even among his other magical students. This book covers his second year, his trials and vicissitudes and his introduction to sexual magick.

Basically this is Harry Potter goes to university and has sex. If I hadn’t said that, the elephant in the room would have just grown and grown. There are some close parallels to the HP books, but all the elements have appeared elsewhere, too, so as far as I can see, they’re fair game. The secret university-within-a-university is very reminiscent of the train-station-within-a-train-station, but so is Enid Blyton’s “The Magic Faraway Tree” and numerous stories of worlds within worlds. The magic university concept, a kind of cross between CS Lewis’s Narnia books and the “Tom Brown’s Schooldays” was known long before Rowling used it – the “Worst Witch” series being only one example.

So I’m up for it, and besides, the concept of a world within worlds is a fun one. I’m not so keen on the split between magical people and “mundanes.” We all have skills, and it doesn’t sit right with me when one group considers itself an elite and denigrates another, but since “mundanes” don’t feature an awful lot, I can cope with that.

There is one embarrassing scene where a professor in sexual magic strips in front of the class and makes them guess whether he has a boner or not before he takes his boxers off (can’t they see?). Although these kids are over age, they look and behave like kids, and the boy on the cover, pretty though he is, looks barely legal. I guess it’s because I’m the age of a professor, not a student. The scene was played mainly for laughs, and it would probably work better with a younger audience.

Which makes me wonder about the audience for this book. The erotic content is too high to make it a YA book. Kyle has a girlfriend and a partner he works with in class, and there are numerous sex scenes throughout.

I say it’s not a romance because it’s not a story of a developing romantic relationship. This is despite the book being a Fantastica, the paranormal romance line from Ravenous Romance. The emphasis is on other things. Kyle and his friends have sex, masturbate and so on, but there isn’t really a romantic feel to any of it. Which is fine for erotica. There is a story about a missing magical ring, which Kyle’s girlfriend is accused of stealing, and Kyle sets out to prove her innocence.

Most of the sex is for other ends—to obtain magical power and learn to use it, so the sex scenes aren’t particularly arousing, but the scenes are well described and fun. The language and the style are good, although I would have enjoyed someone else’s point of view sometimes. The book is told entirely from Kyle’s POV, which gives it a hero’s journey feel.

The magic is a mix of sympathetic magic and ritual, much as it is in Those Other books, and as such is pretty harmless. Aleister Crowley is mentioned several times, not least in the strange and interesting curses the characters use, but his form of sexual magick was far more sinister and dangerous than this. Many people think that was what drove him off the edge, the community in Italy where he tried to understand the wild and unpredictable nature of the power that can possibly be drawn from sex. This book doesn’t have those frightening overtones, and it would be out of place here.

The Tower and the Tears is interesting read, but I can’t help feeling that this book is a little out of place in a paranormal romance line. But if you want a book about students practicing magic and sex, this is definitely the one for you.

Publisher’s blurb:

In the world of Veritas, the Magic University hidden inside Harvard, young Kyle Wadsworth discovers he’s magical and his entire life changes. As a college freshman out from under the control of the great-aunt who raised him, Kyle discovers not only magic, but dating, sex, and love.

In The Tower and the Tears, the second book in the series, Kyle decides to pursue a major in the specialty of erotic magic. He even strikes up a relationship with another student who has had a crush on him for a while and quite suddenly studying and homework become more fun than ever before! But when his girlfriend is accused of stealing magical artifacts, Kyle leaps into trying to discover the culprit and clear her name.

Magic University 2: The Tower and the Tears
(Ravenous Romance, February 2010; ISBN: 978-1-60777-320-7)
Available atRavenous Romance

© 2010 Lynne Connolly. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission.

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