I Am Magical, by Briana Lawrence
Series: magnifiqueNOIR, Book 1
Publisher: Sewn Together Reflections
Release Date: September 7, 2017
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
“The revolution will be magical”
There’s a city. It’s like most other cities. Buildings. People. Monsters who can destroy sidewalks by vomiting acid onto the ground, and an elite group of black, queer, magical girls who work to put those monsters in their place.
See? Just like most other cities.
Bree Danvers would’ve compared it to a video game, maybe a cartoon or comic book, except black girls are rarely the heroines of the story. But there her heroine stood, plus size and wonderful, rocking a dazzling amount of purple and defeating monsters with galactic sparkles. Galactic Purple, that was her name, and soon, Bree was joining her on a magical adventure full of transformations and after school battles to defend a city like most other cities.
And soon, others would join them, and each one would be magical in their own way… give or take a few bumps on the acid covered ground.
Novel with bonus Art!
Content Warning for:
Video Game/Superhero-type mild Violence against monsters
Racism (directed towards the MCs)
* Before the review I just want to clarify that I am not black, but I tried to be as sensitive as I could while discussing the racial issues/black culture addressed in the book. If I wrote something incorrectly please please let me know. It is not my intention to be hurtful or discuss anything inappropriately.
This book reminded me a lot of Sailor Moon in all the best ways! The friendship and magic transformations were especially reminiscent of the show, but the rest was all Lawrence! I feel like the superhero genre really needed something like this.
This is an Own Voice book written by a queer, nerdy, plus-sized black woman who cosplays. The book features a variety of queer black women: some who cosplay, some who are plus sized, some who are nerds. It was great to see black women portrayed with different personalities and interests instead of being a side character or an archetype.
My personal favorite character was Lonnie (Radical Rainbow). She was so tough, but kind and just wonderful. She wanted to be self reliant and work alone, but learned that teamwork wouldn’t take away from her independence and strength. By the time we meet her we’ve already met Bree (Cosmic Green), a giant nerd cosplayer who fumbles trying to talk to a girl she has a crush on, and Marianna (Galactic Purple), a super femme girl who loves baking and takes things very seriously.
The banter between them was really great and I liked that there was a flashback to when they first met and didn’t get along. We got to see their individual growth as Magical Girls and as friends!
Although this book was overall a lot of fun, Lawrence uses her characters to address some stereotypes and conflicts that black women face in their everyday life. Some things, like people commenting on their weight, are relatable to a lot of people. Some things were problems that black women specifically have to deal with. An example of this is when Lonnie was accused by someone of looking manly and also of being angry like other black women.
This is important because there will be WOC who will relate and hopefully feel like someone understands their struggles, but also because allies will become more informed about these issues so they can be better allies. This is why writing and reading diversity is so important: it opens us up to a world we don’t understand, while also providing voices to people who often get left out of books.
A really cool feature about this book was the artwork. There is a lot of beautiful art scattered throughout the book done by an array of different artists. These images helped me see what each magical girl looked like, as well as the monsters they are fighting. Sometimes it was hard to picture their outfits and this gave a nice clear picture of them for the readers. Gorgeous art!
All in all I’m really glad this book exists and I am super excited about the next book! I got just enough of a taste to get into this world but not enough! I need to know more.
Briana Lawrence graduated Iowa State University in 2006 and moved to Minneapolis with her partner. Here, she tried to get into graduate school, but things didn’t pan out the way she wanted. She ended up working retail, her dream becoming buried by Black Fridays and other busy times of year. Once again, however, that dream returned. She went from immersing herself in geeky fan fiction to actually writing about the geeky things she loved for several anime and video game review sites. However, it was her discovery of National Novel Writing Month that made her go back to creating her own characters and plots.
Now, here she is, an author in the writing world.
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I received a copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.