At 16, Karina has a shot at adventure—and an odd first kiss—when she's called to Whyland, a kingdom in another dimension, to save a guy she barely knows. Why her? No clue, but she's happy to help, and kissing Sian isn't torture, even if he isn't to be trusted. Karina's smart enough not to fall in love—or at least to tell herself not to. Once in Whyland, she realizes that risking a broken heart is the smallest of her problems. Chased by dark magic creatures, she joins Sian and heads to a mysterious castle whose secrets might be tied to her own. But when truths are unravelled, Karina will need to step up and stand between an ancient darkness and the kingdom—never mind her heart.
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The majority of this story takes place in Whyland, the fictional dimension created by the author. This world has a complex magic system that I enjoyed getting to know. I appreciated how unique it was in comparison to the elemental magic that I find in most YA Fantasy series. There is some fairytale-elements to their world, including “true loves kiss” and the magic of promises, but there’s also some high-tech elements, like communication devices and flying lifts, in the story that make it intriguing and memorable. It’s clear that the author has put a lot of work into developing this world and it was a pleasure to explore it.
The plot of the story, though heavy with action and magic, is actually a love story at its core. This is the second book in this series, but the story is completely separate. The same characters are in this book as in the first, so by starting with this book, I missed out on some of the character development that happened in the prequel, but the author makes it easy to start with this book by weaving recaps throughout the series. The book is very fast paced, action happens one after the after in quick succession. While this did keep me reading, it was a bit dizzying to have so many plot elements introduced in a fairly short book.
Since I missed some character development in the first book and the plot’s fast pace dominates the book, I didn’t feel like I got to know the characters very well. The story revolves around Karina’s relationships, so I enjoyed seeing her interact with her love interest and watching their relationship grow. However, I sometimes struggled to understand Karina and other character’s motivations, and they often changed from page to page. The characters had the will-they-won’t-they dynamic of a romantic sitcom. This made things a bit frustrating for me, but I’m sure that fans of that dynamic would love the hot and cold changes in the relationships of this story.
Kissing Magic is the second book in Day Leito’s Portals To Whyland series, but it’s easy to jump in with this second book, like I did. The setting of Whyland is fun and interesting world that will stand out among your other YA fantasy reads. The plot is fast paced and will keep you glued in until the end.