OPEN SORCERY by Rob Sheely is a book that treats magic as a real, functional system that in many ways behaves like and serves the same purpose as information technology in our world. There are clear rules, defined techniques and procedures, and companies devoted to the production and development of spells and spell-infused objects. Sheely’s worldbuilding here is excellent and deftly done, with details revealed casually and easily as the story goes on, without too much backstory or explanation. (It helps that there are a lot of parallels here with the computing world, and a lot of inside jokes that programmers and other IT personnel will no doubt enjoy more than the rest of us.) The author has clearly considered how magic would really be used in a society paralleling our own. For example, advertisements lure people in with magical glamours and attractive spells, and people use similar glamours to make themselves attractive to others. In response, people buy warding amulets which protect them from such glamours, and this has caused a runaway evolutionary competition where advertisements get stronger glamours only to be met with stronger wards, leading to a world where going out without warding objects is overwhelming and downright dangerous.
The characters are well-drawn and full of personality and charm. Joseph is the sole remaining founding brother of the firm, lost in depression and loneliness. His impetuous nephew, Jack, is a salesperson who might promise too much but does have the best interests of his family ultimately at heart. His daughter Daphne, practical and fae, is capable and romantic all at once. And the young apprentice Tad is brilliant, put-upon, and eager to prove himself. The spellbinders who work for the company are a solid and likeable bunch–cheerfully willing to put one over on their supervisor whenever they can, or to haze the apprentice (not without affection, at least), but when they have a project that interests and engages them, or when their House is threatened, they become a formidable group force. The story is lively and the action vigorous, leading to a final resolution that comes full circle to the beginning of the House and the relationships between its founders and other trailblazers in the magical world, healing old wounds and settling old grudges. It’s best to start this book with a good hour or two to spare–it’s engaging enough to lure the reader into finishing just one more chapter, then another, until the story is complete.
Rob Sheely’s OPEN SORCERY is a clever, creative, and engaging answer to the question, “What would our world look like if magic took the place of computing?”
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader