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The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas


The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas


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May 17 Daily Update
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WTV's Ryan Shapiro, Karina Grokhovskaya, and Sadie Johnson bring you a few last words

Every Book Has a Silver Lining: Magic Can Be Murder

Christina Huang
In this weekly review, Every Book has a Silver Lining, staff reporter Christina Huang takes a look at books to find their silver lining.

Magical abilities: while they’re something to marvel at and dream of, it might seem impossible to think of them as anything other than a blessing. 

However, for Nola and her mother in Vivian Vande Velde’s novel, Magic Can Be Murder, magical capabilities are more of a burden than a blessing. These abilities demand a continuous life on the run, with no place proven to be ‘home’ for long for the two witches. Readers are shown this immediately as the book starts off with Nola and her mother leaving one place for the next. 

Nola is able to spy on others through ‘shadow forms’ that appear in the water. This spell, which Nola often casts, is among the only things she’s able to do in the new setting before she and her mother are forced to relocate once more. The story truly begins when Nola realizes she never ended the spell she cast earlier. It’s a critical mistake that could reveal her abilities. However, there is a twist. By spying on the people at the house she now plans to return to, she finds a horrific truth. A murder has been committed, with a murderer whose identity is unknown to all but Nola. 

For several readers, the main issue lies in the lack of emotional connection and the story’s simplicity. Some characterization was inconsistent, while certain plot elements seemed purely done to spare Nola’s morality or to tie up uneven storylines. The introduction of a romance was a little jarring as well. Nola sparks a romance with a detective investigating the murder, and their relationship quickly turns from something arguably less than friendship to one with a ‘happily ever after’ type of commitment. 

Vande Velde makes use of the challenging opportunity to allow all of Nola’s abilities to be shown. It’s a good way to help all the pieces slide into place, the creativity behind all her skills apparent. On the other hand, just as the element of mystery had already been solved through observation by Nola, some readers may have felt the mystery—one of the main aspects of the story—to be lacking. 

Magic Can Be Murder was a short, if not simplistic, read. Though the length was fine for the story, its biggest fault could be summarized as not being enough. It wasn’t quite entertaining enough, and it didn’t have enough of the mystery it promised. In the end, Magic Can Be Murder wasn’t enough to leave a lasting impression on readers and save it from being unremarkable. 

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About the Contributor
Christina Huang
Christina Huang, Staff Reporter/Interactive Media Editor
Christina Huang is a sophomore in her first year officially with Wingspan. She enjoys reading, writing, playing the piano and viola, and finding/creating wallpapers for her phone which she will likely never use. She’s looking forward to the opportunity to better her writing and find the good in scorned books this year through her book blog: Every Book Has a Silver Lining. Contact Christina:

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