BOOK REVIEW | THE END OF MAGIC / THE HOLLY KING | MARK STAY
I have a confession to make! I am officially a Mark Stay
fanboy, not just his writing, but also his films, Robot Overlords and Unwelcome.
Yep, I cannot get enough of his stuff, and this is the first of two books that
I have been reading this week of his.
Right so let’s get on with this first one, The End of Magic.
Since reading The Crow Folk some years ago, I have been
meaning to delve into Mr Stay’s back catalogue.
This book the End of Magic was originally published by
Unbound, a kind of crowd funding way of publishing so that writers can write
and tell the stores that they want to tell. On the roster for the crowd
funding, there are some recognisable names such as RJ Barker, SC Gowland, GM
White and quite a few others.
The story revolves around three main characters: Rosheen
Katell, a freelance mage and her griffin Anzu. Sander Bree, the pampered mage
who is an advisor to Bhatair, and finally Oskar, Rosheen’ brother who is
described as a ‘Moon Boy’, which means that his cognitive abilities are not
We begin the story with Rosheen who is freelancing and helps
to stop an invasion by the villain of the piece, Haldor Frang. A warlord who
has seen a vision of the future in which the Lapis Moon (the source of magic
for all mages) is about to be destroyed thus changing their world forever, and
he wants a piece of the action. He subsequently strongarms Rosheen into working
with him (by killing her mother and father and holding her brother hostage,
However, it is just business!).
He subsequently sets a plan in motion to poison the king’s
daughter, thus engineering himself into a position to bring himself to the
table in the whole scheme of things.
This results in bringing Sander Bree into the story. Sander
is tasked with finding an antidote to the poison. However, in the midst of
this, no one (except Haldor Frang) is prepared for the catastrophic events that
are to come and the ways in which this will change the world as a whole.
As I have come to expect from Mark Stay’s books, this is
excellent. Obviously, it is different from his fantastic Witches of Woodville
series and is primarily in the epic fantasy vein. However, it does share some
similarities with the Witches of Woodville series in that it is populated with
characters that you cannot help but love (even though they are significantly
Sander Bree is utterly selfish and self-centred and is only
concerned with his own well-being and over inflated ego. Rosheen is a woman who
is pushed to the edge and in light of this makes continual bad choices and as
we learn more about Oskar, we see that the years of bullying and abuse at the
hands of others has shaped him into someone who is unable to deal with the changes
that the events thrust upon him.
In addition to this, you cannot help but like the main
antagonist of the story, Haldor Frang, who is quite pragmatic in his
The story is excellent, especially when the catastrophe that
is on the front of the book occurs, the story takes a much darker tone. But
this is one of Mark Stay’s strengths, he can mix the humorous with the grim and
he can change the tone on a sixpence. One minute you are laughing at something,
and the next, you are grimacing at the bloodshed on the page, and this one does
have quite a lot of bloodletting running through its pages.
The story itself moves ahead at a breakneck pace as it
twists and turns towards its ending and final culmination.
I can’t recommend this book enough to people and I am
surprised that there are not more reviews on Goodreads shouting from the
rooftops at how good this book is. In addition to this, there is a sequel to
this story coming in 2024 which I cannot wait for.
And here we are for the 2nd one!