The Lightning Charmer – Kathryn Magendie

Goal: find out what to do next. Dream: know what to do next. Fears: what comes next. 


A literal “square peg in a round hole” Laura is lost in the world around her. Desperate to fit in she pretends she loves the city, dating the right man, wearing the right clothes convinced she is the problem rather than the other way around. Finally she cannot resist the pull of home any longer and returns to her parents’ house nestled in the mountains of North Carolina.

She had pretended to love it as much as he did because she’d wanted to be a part of something huge and pulsing with energy. But she’d lied, just as she’d pretended to like sushi and the crowds and noise.

It would not be an understatement to say that Laura is one of the most frustrating characters I have ever encountered. While I did not dislike “her” per se. I found her unrelenting obstinacy was aggravating and compromised my enjoyment of the entire book and as such I didn’t have a lot of empathy for the plight of her character wishing that she would do something, anything rather than whine and moan from scene to scene and when she finally did spur herself into action she simply repeated the mistakes she made in New York proving that she was not just lacking in self-esteem but intelligence too.

Laura is caught between the modern and the mystical, struggling to lead a normal life in New York despite a powerful psychic connection to her childhood home in North Carolina—and to the mysterious stranger who calls her name.

She’s a synesthete—someone who mentally “sees” and “tastes” splashes of color connected to people, emotions, and things. She’s struggled against the distracting ability all her life; now the effects have grown stronger. She returns home to the mountains, desperate to resolve the obsessive pull of their mysteries.

Alexander Scriabins key-color association
Alexander Scriabins key-color association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As much as Laura’s character was vexing, Ayron was appealing, yet I found that even as “the lightning charmer” of the title that his character was under utilized. So many opportunities to have these characters interact were missed and instead the reader was subjected to a literary version of Laura with her hands over her ears chanting “I CAN”T HEAR YOU!” set on repeat indefinitely.

What was fascinating was the concept of synesthesia, a concomitant sensation; especially :  a subjective sensation or image of a sense (as of color) other than the one (as of sound) being stimulated. A phenomena more commonly associated with those who have schizophrenia or who are autistic. It certainly put an interesting spin on my daughter’s claims that the colour red gives her a headache? Which I had always dismissed as more than a little odd but not reason for alarm.

Kathryn Magendie is a good writer and the story of The Lightning Charmer was interesting for all of my complaints about Laura. Yet I felt that something integral was absent, instead of a good ol’ yarn of the likes of a Deborah Smith novel, what I read was a tale missing an essential component. In that the characterization was somewhat two dimensional, particularly in the case of Matthew and Flem, each who seemed to lack reason for their motivation. While characters like Laura’s brother Bryan and her neighbour Betty were likable and delightfully quirky, they simply played too small a part to enhance the whole. Though conceptually sound The Lightning Charmer came close but just wasn’t electrifying enough.

AUTHOR: Kathryn Magendie

RATING: 3 Stars (rounded up)

GENRE:  Women’s Fiction/Romance

Disclaimer: ARC was kindly provided by the publisher for an honest review. 


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