The Author Visits Reviews The Seat of Magic

The Seat of Magic Book Cover The Seat of Magic
A Novel of the Golden City (Book 2)
J. Kathleen Cheney
Fantasy with Elements of Romance
Roc Trade
July 1, 2014
400 pages

Note - I received this book from the author in return for an honest review. These opinions are solely my own.

A unique read, The Seat of Magic is part of the The Golden City series by J. Kathleen Cheney. A blend of science fiction, fantasy and romance, this is definitely far different from anything I've read in this genre.

Set in the fictitious Golden City in the early 1900's Portugal, the second book in the series centers around Oriana Paredes and Duilio Ferreira as they work together, investigating the murders of human and non-humans, unraveling an assassination plot that is simply put, brilliant in its reverse psychology.

The magical creatures in Cheney's work include sereia, selkies and witches. Sereia or sirens are mythical fish-like creatures while the selkies are seals who once they remove their pelts, can function as humans. Very intriguing and nothing like anything I've come across in my reading.

I am a vampire girl through and through and each new book I am requested to review opens the floodgates to a new experience in creativity. Cheney does not fail in her world building and to set the book in the coastal country of Portugal is perfect for the engagement between the human and non-human worlds.

As the story progresses, there is build-up in both the plot as Duilio and Oriana as well as other ancillary characters including Duilio's brother Joaquim begin piecing together catalyst to the murders. It appears someone is out to create the perfect cross-breed of human and non-human creatures through transplantation. The result is a series of gruesome murders.

But there is the relationship between Duilio and Oriana that also grows. The two move away from being mere counterparts becoming an enamored couple. Oriana realizes she must court Duilio as a sign of her affections. The pacing of the relationship was balanced and the undercurrent between the characters was a welcome change from overt romance.

Cheney's writing is elegant. I've read just a few books set in the early 1900's and am pleased with the ease and fluidity Cheney captures the period through speech, description and a marvelous landscape of The Golden City she's created.

I didn't read the first book end-to-end in the series, however I didn't feel overwhelmed or lost - this is a plus for Cheney's ability to pepper enough important backstory in The Seat of Magic without overburdening the reader with impertinent detail.

The world Cheney has constructed is distinct and leaves an impression. I did have to go back to The Golden City to get some insight into what a sereia versus a selkie was. But that didn't perturb me from continuing to read the second book in any way. Again, that is relevant and a testament to Cheney's skill as an adept writer.

Overall, I enjoyed The Seat of Magic. A charming read with plenty of stand-apart qualities set against a stunning landscape with rare characters and an ingenious plot with conflict that isn't in-your-face but rather subtle in its evil and engaging in its unraveling.

My rating: it's a five-star must read!

The Author Visits Reviews The Seat of Magic

JKCheney Final Side Banner

About J. Kathleen Cheney

J. Kathleen Pic

J. Kathleen Cheney is nothing if not versatile in her story telling, but weaving through her work is a common thread, that of the improbable heroine. From worlds set in humanity’s distant post-apocalyptic future to alternate worlds of today or of the near past, Kathleen’s heroines include a siren who with help from a gentleman of the city must stop a regicidal plot, the neglected daughter of an absent king coming to terms with her shapeshifting ancestors, a blind teenager who dreams of others’ deaths and who uses her gift of touch to find their killers, and the widow of a trainer who with a most unusual horse must save her farm and way of life. All use their unusual gifts and talents to overcome obstacles and find their place in the world.

In 2005 Kathleen decided to pursue writing as a full-time endeavor and has since enjoyed seeing her stories published in Shimmer, The Sword Review, and Baen’s Universe. Her novella “Iron Shoes” was a 2011 Nebula nominee. Kathleen twice attended the summer Writer’s Workshop at the Center for the Study of Science Fiction under the tutelage of James Gunn. She lists C. J. Cherryh, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Georgette Heyer among the writers who influenced her most–as well as Ansen Dibell, whose ghostly fingerprints can be seen all over her work.

Born and raised in El Paso, Texas, Kathleen’s parents actually were rocket scientists (they worked at White Sands Missile Range), which made for interesting dinner-time conversations. After graduating with degrees in English and Marketing she worked as a menswear buyer for retail department store chains before changing careers to become a teacher, where she taught mathematics ranging from 7th Grade Arithmetic up to Calculus. Kathleen also served a brief stint as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. She coached the Academic Team and the Robotics Team and was the Chess Club sponsor.

When not writing, Kathleen likes to don a mask and get sweaty fencing, both foil and saber. Quieter hobbies include putting on her Wellingtons and getting her hands dirty in the garden. She also enjoys traveling and taking care of her dogs. Two large, hairy, dogs.

Follow J. Kathleen:

Where to buy:

Buy on Amazon
Buy on Barnes and Noble

Gift Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Irma Jurejevčič says:

    Lokks interesting. Thank you for the post :)

  2. Marjorie says:

    How long does it take you to search for material for the book.

    • I wasn’t entirely sure this question was meant for me, but rif you’re asking about research, it’s pretty much continual. I don’t have time to do much research up front, so I’m always jotting down a note to research one thing or another. Portuguese research has, for the last few years, been a constant in my life….

Leave a Comment