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Don't Expect Magic

Don’t Expect Magic is a YA urban fantasy novel by Kathy McCullough.

A dead mom, a move that takes her across the country – away from her lifelong hometown of New Jersey and her best friend that still resides there – and a new guardian in her absentee father. That’s fifteen-year-old Delaney Collins’ new life.

If you asked Delaney if she believed in fairy tales she would laugh. Probably something close to a cackle.

Problem is, soon after moving in with Dr. Hank (the name her life-coach/author dad is famous under), this comes under question. Her world is turned upside down when she realizes that “life-coach” actually means “fairy godmother”.

And, okay, her dad is a guy – so maybe the technical term might be “godfather”, though she quickly christens the ridiculousness as simply “f.g.” – but apparently that doesn’t matter. He’s got the magic, the wand, etc.

Plus, the f.g. gene? Apparently it’s hereditary.

Delaney, the girl with an anti-social personality, is supposed to make wishes come true? Ha!

Yet, soon enough, she finds that her new high school is full of wistful souls that cause her to experiment with her burgeoning powers. One of which is Flynn, a yearbook photographer that she butted heads with on her very first day, who is hopelessly in love with a beautiful cheerleader – who, of course, doesn’t know he exists.

Deciding she might as well give it a shot, Delaney decides that she’ll do her best to make his wish come true.

But she’s sure as hell not going to start wearing pink, sparkly, poufy dresses!

Don’t Expect Magic was an absolutely delightful, magical novel!

Delaney is a bitter, sarcastic, caustic protagonist to start, which can sometimes be a hard sell, but her grief is very real and her reason for disliking her dad is legitimate. Kathy McCullough manages to make the awkward scenes awkward for all the right reasons – Delaney can sometimes be, well, not so nice and it can be a little painful to witness. Yet this pain is what gravitated me to Delaney – I became invested in her quickly and began hoping for as close to a “happily ever after” as is possible.

After establishing her character quickly, we then get to delve into a truly refreshing storyline and an honestly touching view of a father-daughter relationship healing, slowly but surely. Don’t Expect Magic is funny, original, upbeat and positive without turning syrupy. It stays grounded and believable.

This is a swift read that made me almost deliriously happy – and sometimes that’s EXACTLY what you want! I most definitely recommend Don’t Expect Magic – and I hope for more new, contemporary fairy tales from Kathy McCullough in the future!!!


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