Magical Friends by Barbara G. Tarn

SPFBO Status: Cut

Medium: Kindle

Overview (No Spoilers):

Magical Friends is composed of a fascinating literary world filled with various magical species that ultimately seem underutilized in this tale of adventure and love. The story mainly follows two twin sisters and a pair of best friends. The best friends, Lambert and Torik, seem stuck in their everyday lives, miserable in the roles and responsibilities life has dealt them. When events conspire to alleviate them neatly from their aforementioned droll lives and set them on a path of boundless adventure, both characters are eager for the opportunity. The talented twins, Tamika and Babirye, on the other hand, have spent the past five years training tirelessly as a warrior and a priestess, respectively. As their training draws to a close, big decisions await them that will decide the course of their lives. 

Tarn has created an expansive world filled with a wide array of magical creatures who our adventurers interact with on a daily basis. The magical aspects of this novel were my favorite, especially when combined with the extensive traveling that the protagonists engage in. That being said, despite our protagonists exploring large swaths of this literary realm,  the visits are often so brief that we only have the barest glimpse of the new kingdom before the journey continues to the next city. By the end of Magical Friends, the worlds have blurred together, where only a few of the realms actually stand out as unique. I did appreciate Tarn including various regions in her world that challenge the traditional roles that women are typically relegated to in literature. 

Magical Friends has one of the smoothest plots I’ve read in literature, with very few high or low moments while reading. Everything seems to work out for our protagonists on the first try, especially the second half of this read. With minimal strife encountered, the character depth stalls out after the initial backstories are established. Overall, with wide ranging travel and intriguing legendary magical creatures, Magical Friends had significant potential that didn’t quite develop beyond establishing the outline.

Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):

  • Tamika demands monogamy, but she cheats on Lambert at the first opportunity with a random Sila. Did she tell Lambert? It was a strange sequence where it happened, but nothing came of it. 
  • Lambert was an interesting character since he was born to be a king but didn’t want to be one, or for that matter, didn’t want to be a father either. How does his daughter feel that she escaped her mom to find her dad, only to learn that he doesn’t actually want her?

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