May Contain Traces of Magic by Tom Holt

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May Contain Traces of Magic by Tom Holt

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Buy May Contain Traces of Magic by Tom Holt at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Loralei Haylock
Reviewed by Loralei Haylock
Summary: With humour bubbling through on every page and an array of excellently observed characters, May Contain Traces of Magic will have you laughing out loud.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: May 2009
Publisher: Orbit
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1841495057

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It's a hard life being a salesman. Chris Popham spends all his time driving between customers trying to sell them things they don't really want to buy – products of JWW retail, magical goods. Portable parking spaces, bank holidays on a CD, the Book of all Human Knowledge, and the firm's most popular product, DW6, only don't ask what it's for, because no one knows.

Chris goes from magic shop to magic shop, pushing his produce on owners who didn't want to know, moving through his insignificant little life with zero enthusiasm. His long term, 'may as well be married' girlfriend, Karen, barely talks to him, and the only thing that makes everything bearable is the magical SatNav in his car. But SatNavs can be problematic too, for when 'Turn left at the next roundabout' becomes 'Excuse me', nothing good can come of it.

Chris finds himself the target of demons, who'd love to know where 'she' is. Chris would happily tell them, only he doesn't know who 'she' even is. The demons, however, can't be persuaded of this fact. Add to his problems a grumpy trainee, the murder of one of his customers and a missing packet of biscuits, and Chris doesn't know whether he's coming or going. Everyone has an agenda, everyone is lying, and Chris' life hangs in the balance. If only he could figure out what on Earth is actually going on…

In Chris Popham, Tom Holt has created the everyman hero. He's the kind of guy who makes you think 'I know someone just like that', and, more often than not, his reactions to the situations he finds himself in prompt you to think, 'That's probably exactly what I would do.' He is not the dashing hero who throws himself in the face of danger – he's the guy who finds himself in danger because carrying on with his life is rather less hassle than relocating to Switzerland (the only country in the world where magic doesn't work – something to do with all the banks…) and because if he's wrong about the whole, 'my life is in terrible danger' thing, it would be a tad embarrassing.

Chris isn't the only brilliant character – Holt's eye for human nature extends to all the peripheral characters. From Chris' best friend Jill, a hard working, ambitious demon hunter, to his perpetually irritable girlfriend, Holt never misses the mark with his characterisation and observation.

With humour bubbling through on every page and Chris' ever dry and self deprecating view on the absurd situations he finds himself in, May Contain Traces of Magic has moments that will make you laugh out loud, and enough plot twist and turns to keep you guessing with Chris, right to the very end. Excellent stuff.

My thanks to the publishers for sending a copy.

Fans of comic fantasy might enjoy Good Omens, by two fantasy giants – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and a number of Tom Holt's other offerings come highly recommended by Bookbag.

Booklists.jpg May Contain Traces of Magic by Tom Holt is in the Bookbag's Christmas Gift Recommendations 2009.
Buy May Contain Traces of Magic by Tom Holt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy May Contain Traces of Magic by Tom Holt at Amazon.co.uk


Buy May Contain Traces of Magic by Tom Holt at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy May Contain Traces of Magic by Tom Holt at Amazon.com.

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