Friday, April 10, 2020

Review: Beach Magic by Lynne Cantwell

Editor's note: Longtime Books and Pals readers will remember that we sometimes have what we refer to as "doubleshot review" where one pal gives their take on a book and then a day or two later another pal gives you their thoughts on the same book. We haven't had one in a while, but when two pals are clammering to read the same book it seems like the obvious solution, so here we are. Today we get Judi Moore's review of Lynne Cantwell's latest with ?wazithinkin slated to give her opinion on the same next Monday.

Genre: Modern Fantasy


This is the fourth and concluding book of the author’s Elemental Keys series. If the title and/or cover tempts you to think it might be a bit like Baywatch, let me assure you right away – this is nothing like Baywatch.

The scent of supernatural battles to come is heavy on the air as the book opens. Romance is also rife. The team of four half-Elementals tasked with saving the world have been bested in each of the previous three books. How will they fare this, last, time?

The cast of characters includes (but is not limited to) Elemental Beings, half-Elemental Beings, human beings, a demon, the Fae, golems, deities from the Hawaiian and Irish pantheons, a high council of Elemental Guardians, and a mind-speaking cat. Never a dull moment.


Our Lynne Cantwell (not to be confused with the Irish woman rugby international of the same name) worked as a broadcast journalist for many years. She has written for CNN, Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a number of recherch√© radio and TV news outlets, including the now defunct wire service Zapnews. Amongst her many qualifications, Cantwell includes a journalism degree from Indiana University, a master’s degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University, and a paralegal certificate.

These days she is a prolific author of modern fantasy novels and novellas, usually with a warm romantic strand. She is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited. She lives near Washington, DC.


The half-Elementals – Gail, Raney, Collum and Rufus – are (finally) getting better at this saving-the-world schtick. Not before time. If you’ve read the first three novellas in this series you will know that they are searching for four vital keys. So far they’ve managed to lose three of them to a demon named Surgat, who has possessed Raney’s father. Raney didn’t like him much anyway, so it’s no great loss. But being outsmarted has taken a toll on the moral of all four of them at the beginning of Beach Magic.

Can they pull it all together when Surgat comes after the fourth Key? Yes they can. And in rather a surprising way. More is at stake than the faithful reader of the first three books might have imagined. People turn out not to be who they seem (except Surgat – he’s just a nasty demon, end of); instructions and, indeed, locations get turned on their heads.

Cantwell has come up with a most engaging conclusion to the story. I pride myself on guessing endings – and I was way off with this one. There is oodles of plot, many engaging characters, spectacle and battles galore, romance and witty repartee. Both uplifting (and we surely do need a bit of that just now in the real world) and satisfying in just the way one wants the final, climactic, book in a series to be. Recommended.

If you haven’t read the first three novellas, I urge you to do so before reading this one. This final book does stand alone. And Cantwell gives ‘the story so far’ at the beginning of each book in the series. However, reading them in order will be a much richer experience.

Buy now from:            Amazon US        Amazon UK


The series is getting a new suite of covers. To my mind the new covers rather undersell the content. I prefer the originals, which loosely tied this series to other Cantwell fantasy series such as The Pipe Woman Chronicles. But I expect there are good reasons for the change.

This book is to be published on 9 April. The other three are currently unavailable, presumably while their covers are updated. One presumes all four will be available on 9 April 2020.

Format/Typo Issues:

I was working from a pre-release copy.

Rating: **** Four Stars

Reviewed by: Judi Moore

Approximate word count: 50-55,000 words

1 comment:

Lynne Cantwell said...

Thank you for the wonderful review! And yes, all three of the original books are now available with new titles and covers: River Magic, Bog Magic, Gecko Magic, and Beach Magic (this one).