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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Girl Without Magic by Megan O'Russell is the first book in The Chronicles of Maggie Trent. Maggie awakens to darkness in another world where she's greeted by an unfortunate new reality under the power of the Siren. Then she meets Bertrand who tells her that she's not dead but for her to return home she will need to acquire a significant amount of magic. She has to earn enough magic to pay the price the Siren requires for anyone to leave. She works her way toward obtaining the magic she needs, but when the villagers are threatened, Maggie must face her worst memories and prepare for battle.
The story begins with Maggie waking up in this other world so, as she processes what's going on, Megan O'Russell unravels the truth, leading you to believe for a brief moment that Maggie is dead before detailing the magical explanation. Cue a mysterious stranger who tells her she's not dead and simply in another place that is between everything and has a gritty quality to how it's set up. The magic here is a currency so to pay her way out she has to work. The use of the magic as currency adds to the grittiness of the world and ups the obstacles Maggie must face to return home. The stranger, Bertrand, is the first person she meets and he acts as her guide, explaining how things work in the Realm and giving her help when she needs it - then he becomes a friend and mentor. The relationship between the two is fun with plenty of charm seen through their banter and how they bond. Bertrand is a fun character, perfectly fitting into the role of mentor and friend while providing humor through a high opinion of himself and offering someone for Maggie to trust when she arrives.
Maggie finds romance and is swept off her feet in a sweet love story woven throughout her journey. Maggie gets a chance to find a new purpose when danger threatens the people in the Realm and she trains with Bertrand's guidance to help protect them. She faces her worst memories and has to confront that part of her past she keeps confined within herself. O'Russell weaves in an emotional element through Maggie's memories, and how her time in the Realm shapes who she becomes, while also exploring the possibility of why she ended up there. The Girl Without Magic is an action-packed adventure with a sweet romance, a fun friendship, and a journey of discovery.