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Grey Magic by JT Lawrence – Review

Title: Grey Magic

Author: J.T. Lawrence

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Book procurement: Received a copy from the author for an honest review. Currently available on Amazon.


No one appreciates the irony of her situation more than Raven Kane: she’s a burnt-out witch. Raven is a hip, hexing-and-texting sorceress – or at least, she used to be.

Now her ancient timber house is falling down around her, and the bank wants to repossess it. Nothing would make her cantankerous neighbour happier than seeing Raven and her messy menagerie out on the street. To add to her stress, the reckless Wicked Witches are causing mischief and it’s her job to reign them in. Worst of all is that her magic seems to be fading.

Just as everything seems to be too much to handle, there’s a knock on the (splintering) door. A not-unattractive man appears in her life: not to save her, as a fairytale would have you believe, but to arrest her for the murder of one of her clients. It wouldn’t be that bad for Raven, except that she knows she’s guilty.


First Thoughts

First and foremost, I thought this was a great book. It’s a fresh take on the whole “magic” and “witches” perspective. Grounds it in a natural and almost believable setting of earthly charms. Very apt for a South African novel considering the African cultural perspective on magic.

The entire story kept its center around the idea of “Grey Magic”, this idea that intention has nothing to do with consequence. Where something with the best of intentions can spiral towards a dark consequence.

There were a few inconsistencies or perhaps better to call them irregularities in the story, but they weren’t so major as to derail the story. They did break my sense of suspended disbelief though and it took a while to reign myself back in.


The writing flows well from beginning to end. It’s clear there was a good deal of research invested into the novel. Not only in execution of  the magic and spells, but the descriptions that captured places and events not rooted in our current age.

The clever use of technology and social media was also well written. If one can communicate with someone from across the world through Twitter, why not tweet spells and magical advice too. Perhaps we need more tech savvy-witches.

Raven, the main character, remains true to herself throughout the novel. Even as the story starts with Raven displaying sarcasm and wit, it’s all just building towards her self-discovery. The rest of the characters were also well captured. From detective Kruger, to Father Stephen Bishop, and the coven of witches with well-meaning agendas. I’d love to break each character down but then… I’d spoil the book for you. Some clever twists there.

I did feel as though their roles were to set Raven up as the main character. Thankfully their individual personalities made up for that.

Final Thoughts

Overall the novel is great. I really enjoyed the interconnected symbols appearing through the course of the novel. Ravens, fire, Fenrir and more. It was a beautiful amalgamation of fate, destiny and karma swirling about.

I was a bit disconcerted by the modern pitchfork wielding mob and the whole mob mentality, especially considering our time frame. Also the types of people who had shown up don’t seem like mob-mentality people, unless that’s just my ignorance speaking.

The criticism of the Christian ethos made me roll my eyes, as though every Christian is an ignorant fundamentalist with no concept of the bible (or God) they read. Picking and choosing context for their purposes. It’s not something I’ll get into now but it did annoy a bit.

Nonetheless it culminated perfectly, aligning all of the obstacles that had plagued Raven in the beginning to a perfect conclusion of karma, and the Grey Magic that spilled through lifetimes.

Rating: An enjoyable 3 out of 5

JT Lawrence

JT Lawrence is an author, playwright and bookdealer based in Parkhurst, Johannesburg. She is the mother of two small boys and lives in a house with a red front door.

She has written various plays for SAFM including ‘The Shelter’, ‘Unspilling the Milk’, ‘Every Breath You Take’, and serials, the most recent being the crime drama ‘Jigsaw’. Her short story collection ‘Sticky Fingers’ was broadcast in the last quarter of 2015, and will be available as a paperback and ebook in 2016.

Her first novel, ‘The Memory of Water’ (2011), is about a writer who would do anything for a story. Her 2015 offering, ‘Why You Were Taken’is a pre-dystopian sci-fi thriller starring a synaesthete, and takes place is a futuristic Jo’burg burdened by infertility and a water crisis. It was optioned by the national broadcaster, SABC, for a radio adaption.

She is currently working on her new novel, ‘Grey Magic’, slated for December 2016, about an eccentric modern-day witch, accused of murder, who must explore her past lives in order to keep her freedom — and find her way back to magic.

Website: Pulpbooks

Amazon: J.T. Lawrence

Twitter: @pulpbooks


Instagram: pulp_junkie

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Wednesday Book Review: Sticky Fingers

Stick Fingers - JT Lawrence

Title: Sticky Fingers

Author: JT Lawrence

Genre: Short stories

Book procurement: Received a copy from the author for an honest review. Available on Amazon from the 28 July 2016.


Diverse, dark-humoured, and deliciously bite-sized, this compelling collection of 12 short stories by JT Lawrence include:

‘Escape’ — a story about about a suicidal baby who knows he was born into the wrong life, and has to get creative to take measures correct the mistake, much to his mother’s horror.

The Itch’ — a story about an intense, uncontrollable, unexplainable itch that lands the protagonist in a mental institution.

‘Bridge Gate’ — In this poignant and charming short story, a daughter yearns to connect with her absent father through the letters they exchange. She’s not put off by his pedantic corrections of her writing, despite the slow reveal that he is less than perfect himself.

‘The Unsuspecting Gold-digger’ — a woman gradually poisons her husband so that she doesn’t have to break his heart.


As a short story writer myself, I’ve got a soft spot for anthologies. There’s something unique and expectant in short stories that novels (unless they are sequels) do not have in their endings. You know you should expect some sort of cliff hanger and JT. Lawrence, in her short stories, executes it perfectly often enough.

I think to review each story would be a bit much, so instead I’ll pick out ones that stood out for me:

Escape: This suicidal-baby short just left me traumatized. Initially I was confused by the concern of the parents; the father thinks the baby is attempting to end their life and the mother thinks he’s exaggerating. And then both agree the child has a death wish. Perhaps some clarity? Other than that, the descriptions were vivid and clear. A clever use of words, and a prompting of the question that I’m sure many have asked: how aware/cognitive are babies really?

The Itch: Eeeuuwww. I think that’s a sufficient review? No? Okay… well imagine having an itch so intense it causes you to burrow through your skull? I think my only issue is that I still don’t know what caused the itch. And I’m starting to feel an itch in my head too…

Something Borrowed: I did not see that coming. Not one bit. Such a beautiful beginning. And then I saw that one point thrown in offhandedly. But nothing is random in short stories. It’s the wriggling worm and you’re the unsuspecting fish.

Pigeon Pair: Have you watched Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds? I find pigeons far more sinister. I got the creeps reading this.I’m convinced you will be too.

The Little Pink Book: One of my favourites. Because I honestly did not see that end coming. And so casual and sweet and unassuming. Midwife fears. Another great example of good writing.

Travelling Slacks: Fantastically written although I would never go so far with a “customer”. This short is written as the communication between a reviewer and the hotel where the person stayed. It’s funny. It’s incredulous. It’s just that good.

In terms of writing, JT Lawrence is spot on with most of her stories. I enjoyed reading through all of them; some just to figure out how they end and other’s because the writing was just that compelling. I did, however, find myself wondering if all the characters were the same as they bore the same sort of characteristics often. There was even a story where I was convinced the character was female (as most of them are) and was surprised when he wasn’t. And I’m still trying to figure out what “Off the Hinge” was all about. There was a good change up in perspective with stories like Bridge Gate (which doesn’t sound like a B&B at all haha), Travelling Slacks, and Pigeon Pair. Yet, whenever the stories were based in South Africa, I didn’t get a sense of “South Africa” in them. They still felt very “Western”.

The stories in the anthology have themes that I wouldn’t personally relate to, but that make for compelling stories nonetheless: weddings, children, marriage, infidelity (marriage and religious), child birth. At the end of it, the stories played on fears that I didn’t even think I had.

In overall this is great selection of short stories, and JT Lawrence is a fantastic writer. She draws you in, builds up the tension, and then leaves you dangling over the edge only to find the edge doesn’t exist after all. And the little covers for each story are gorgeous.

Rating: An enjoyable 4 out of 5

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