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Oysters, Pearls and Magic by Joyce Chng


A serialized novella about a girl’s journey of self-discovery, set in a future world of oysters, pearls and magic. Mirra is a magic user, but her gift is scorned by the menfolk in her village. Men are allowed to use magic; women are not. So, after a tumultuous event, Mirra decides to leave and heads for the City to continue her own self-journey.

A complete novel

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Listed: Aug 28, 2009


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an original premise

By A. M. Harte, editor, author of Theatre of Horrors

Sep 4, 2009: I only read the prologue (which stands at a lengthy 4,000 words!) but my initial impression is that Oysters, Pearls and Magic has an intriguing premise.

It is based in an alternate universe, a place where gender roles are strictly defined: women fish for oysters and pearls, and men "curl light" (or cast magic) to power the boats and so on. The author has clearly given the setting a lot of thought, and the writing strongly evokes a small fishing village. I found the world-building to be well-planned and rather original.

The main character, Mirra, is a girl who straddles the gender roles. She can both fish, as is expected of her, and cast magic, something which is strongly disapproved of and feared. A quick glance through the subsequent chapters indicates that the story will continue to follow Mirra as she comes to terms with her uniqueness and seeks to carve a place for herself in the world.

That said, I found the writing too ornate, and almost passive in tone, focusing more on telling the reader what happens than actually showing the events. The story sounds almost like a memoir, but told from the point of view of a narrator who already knows the end of the story; there is little sense of excitement or discovery in each action.

The website itself is relatively simple to navigate, with a muted colour palate that’s easy on the eyes, although I would prefer a ‘landing page’ with a table of contents, rather than being confronted with the most recent update.

If you like ornate, descriptive writing, almost more literary in style, than this is the story for you. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my cup of tea.

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