Release Date: March 10th 2021
Read: March 16th 2021 – March 17th 2021
Rep: bi main character, non-binary/demigirl side character, chinese-american side character, mexican-american side character, implied aroace side character, implied bi side character, implied aspec side character
CW: grief, depression, parental death (off-page, in backstory), anxiety (especially thought spirals and overthinking), bullying/harassment, mild gore and medical body horror, violence, mention of violence-related PTSD, brief underage drinking, mention of drug use, mention of organised crime, 18 year old protagonist develops a crush on someone in their early 20s though this is not acted upon
Fight like a magical girl in this paperback original contemporary fantasy in which a Harajuku fashionista battles mutants—and social anxiety—by teaming up with an elite group of outcasts. Perfect for those obsessed with the technicolor worlds of Sailor Moon, The Umbrella Academy, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Book One of the Magic Mutants Trilogy.
Holly Roads uses Harajuku fashion to distract herself from tragedy. Her magical girl aesthetic makes her feel beautiful—and it keeps the world at arm’s length. She’s an island of one, until advice from an amateur psychic expands her universe. A midnight detour ends with her vs. exploding mutants in the heart of San Francisco.
Brush with destiny? Check. Waking up with blue blood, emotions gone haywire, and terrifying strength that starts ripping her wardrobe to shreds? Totally not cute. Hunting monsters with a hot new partner and his unlikely family of mad scientists?
Way more than she bargained for.
I have mixed feelings about this book.
It was, on the whole, a fun time! There were multiple parts that got me laughing, and the relatively fast pace meant that I didn’t get bored at all while reading. I also really appreciated how Holly refused to sacrifice her chosen aesthetic and interests in the face of everything that was going on around her. She might have suddenly gained super strength, blue blood, and a psychic connection with another one of the mutants, but she’s absolutely not doing anything if she’s not allowed to look cute doing it!
However, I struggled to connect to almost all of the characters, and for me that can really kill my interest in a book. I came away from it feeling like we’d been told some surface level things about the characters, but we hadn’t really got to know any of them properly. The character I ended up caring the most about, Nuñez, was the one we got the most backstory from and who (I felt, at least) formed the most genuine connection with Holly, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I ended up liking him the most. Holly spent a lot of time with Brannon, and constantly references having a crush on him, but they didn’t seem to actually like each other? I might just need to put this one down to allo nonsense, but I didn’t understand or believe her crush on him at all. The other two members of the team, Kyle and especially Laura, were pretty much non-entities. Especially Laura. It’s such a shame, because there’s potential here for a really cool found family dynamic, but it didn’t come through at all for me.
Something that other reviewers have picked up on, and that I’m echoing here, is that the decision to have the only Mexican-American character be linked to drug cartels is certainly a Choice™ that has been made. Also, Holly makes an assumption about the sexualities of two of the other characters based solely off one of them having a slightly feminine tattoo, and it’s a pretty long time between the point where she makes this assumption and when she’s corrected. Holly is supposed to be a messy and unreliable narrator, but she’s queer herself, and so should absolutely have known better than to do this. If her assumption had come solely from seeing the characters interact then I wouldn’t mind this sub-plot nearly as much, but the thought didn’t occur to her until she saw the tattoo and that bothers me a lot more.
If you’re looking for something with superhero origin story vibes, that’s fast paced and action packed, features messy queer characters that aren’t necessarily likeable, or that celebrates femininity (and especially harajuku and lolita fashion) and refuses to compromise on its inclusion, then I would recommend checking this one out! I don’t regret spending my time on it! It just didn’t quite hit the mark for me.
I received an e-arc through the author in return for an honest review.
About The Author
Erin Grammar writes about horrible things happening to good people—while looking as cute as humanly possible. When she isn’t working on her latest novel, she likes to hunt for gemstones and Hello Kitty collectibles, spend time with her family (including two real and very demanding cats), craft, watch horror movies, and style wigs big enough to hold tons of secrets.
About The Blogger
El is a 21 year old university student from the UK who loves to read and loves talking about what they read. They particularly like to focus on books featuring lgbtq+ main characters.