Dead Magic is a superb read. Mostly because it doesn’t stop moving once you start it.
Kara Jorgensen decided with her fourth novel to revisit characters she’s already told one story for. Emmeline and Immanuel were last seen in The Winter Garden, but in Dead Magic, Jorgensen fleshes them out a little more and explores what comes after a life changing event.
Dead Magic is different from the ones that came before, at least for me, because it was more…thrilling. There were parts that had my heart racing because I had to know what happened next. The pacing was faster and drew me in more quickly. Jorgensen’s novels have always had an air of mystery about them, but this one really kept me guessing until the end.
What I like about Jorgensen’s steam punk novels is not only that they mix past, present and future with a little science fiction, but that they deal with timely social issues. Immanuel and Adam’s love story is one that you would think and hope doesn’t resonate today: two people of the same sex hiding their feelings for fear of what society has to say. But it’s still true. There are people today who hide what they feel and who they love because there are those who tell them what they feel and who they love isn’t right. And Jorgensen captures the confusing thoughts and feelings, the stress of having to check everything one says, and the anguish at “being single” even though one is in a committed relationship really well.
She makes it normal – which it is – and that’s something society sorely needs.
Her female characters are also very real. Society tells writers to create female characters that are strong because strong female characters are sorely lacking. But I like the argument that tells authors to make real women. Real women aren’t always strong; sometimes they are weak. Real women aren’t always right; sometimes they make poor judgments and deserve to be told they’re wrong. Real women make mistakes and real women need help. Real women also want to fall in love and have someone fall in love with them. Emmeline is just such a character. She’s real. She’s not perfect. She makes mistakes. You don’t always like her. And for me, reading a female character that is flawed, but still tries, is more important than a strong female character. Because flaws are what make us stronger.
I recommend Jorgensen’s novels for the entertainment, yes, but also because they offer so much more. And that’s what novels should do.