After five years chained to a cruel king’s throne and trapped in his ursine form, Veier has forgotten what it means to be human. He knows only humiliation, pain, and anger. So when his captor is killed by a neighboring ruler, Veier finds himself at the mercy of a new master. Rather than being killed outright, he is given into the care of the new kings’ brother, Elrid. As a mage and healer, Elrid recognizes Veier as a member of the Ursinai and knows a man is trapped beneath the fur. But only time will tell if there anything left of the man Veier once was.
With patience and kindness, Elrid helps Veier rediscover himself once more. He understands and accepts Veier’s anger and, in return, the bear shifter allows himself to trust the royal mage, despite the magic that flows between them. But Veier has long been away from his clan and even with Elrid’s help, he is afraid he may no longer fit in the world he once loved. And even if he can, he isn’t sure he wants to if it means losing Elrid.
I thoroughly enjoyed Magic Runs Deep. It’s a quick, engaging read with just enough world building to give the reader something to sink their teeth into. Elrid and Veier are both interesting characters: one who has learned to fear magic and the other who wields it like breathing. This juxtaposition sets up a nice level of tension between the two, though Elrid’s kindness is always evident. The romance is subtle and the book as a whole is more about the friendship between Elrid and Veier rather than any sort of sexual relationship. In fact, the romance is almost an afterthought, but that doesn’t detract from the overall story in any way. The author does a good job of portraying Veier’s return to humanity and the realities of having to deal with his actions while in bear form.
Magic Runs Deep…doesn’t run that deep. This is a light fantasy to be sure and while what we get is good, there aren’t a lot of layers. The story and overall world imagery works despite this. I would have appreciated a bit more development of the kingdoms involved and more exploration of Veier’s time in captivity, only because this information would have helped to round out the plot. The only part of Magic Runs Deep that stumbles is the ending. There are essentially two epilogues, which don’t really fit with the rest of the book’s natural, easy pacing. The end feels rushed and sort of crammed together, and the story markers don’t really fit the wider narrative. It left Magic Runs Deep feeling a bit jagged at the end.
On the whole, Magic Runs Deep was enjoyable and satisfying. There’s nothing huge happening here, but the story is well written and the characters are endearing. So it was easy to become immersed in the action and forget about the rest of the world for a while.