Rebecca York, Susan
Kearney & Jeanie London,
Midnight Magic
(Tor, 2006)

Legend has it that long ago, a certain artist produced a work of art using magical paints and then vanished into it, leaving this world behind. Midnight Magic is a collection of three novellas tied together by the eponymous painting.

In Rebecca York's "Second Chances," Sara Drimmon enters the painting and finds herself in the past, at the point when she first met Matt, her true love. Given a chance to fix the painful past, she must find the courage and make Matt believe her. But her very presence in the past seems to have already changed events from how she remembers them. Can she save Matt and change the future?

Susan Kearney's "Ulterior Motives" follows, in which Sara gives country superstar Merline a second chance. Instead of the past, "Midnight Magic" sends Merline to the far future, where only an obsessed collector knows who and what she used to be. Her one chance at happiness seems to be with a man who admits he has ulterior motives in befriending her.

Finally, Jeanie London's "Temptation" returns us to the 18th century, where a portrait artist offers psychic Nina de Lacy and her guardian a look into "Midnight Magic." Is it all a trick of the devil, or can Nina finally find relief from her dangerous psychic gifts within the painting?

Midnight Magic is an entertaining collection. The stories are well-told within the limitations of their form -- I would have liked to have seen a bit more backstory in "Second Chances" for instance, and maybe have learned a bit about the mysterious artist who painted "Midnight Magic." All three stories are fast-paced, with strong heroines who are prepared to do what is necessary to change their lives. These aren't deep stories that are going to change the world, but they're certainly perfect for reading pool-side on a hot summer afternoon.

by Laurie Thayer
11 November 2006

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