Book Review: How to Survive Your Magical Family

When I first read the title of this book, I knew it was going to be a fun read, and I wasn’t disappointed.

How to Survive Your Magical Family
Clare Rhoden

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Odyssey Books (September 22, 2022)
Publication date ‏ : ‎ September 22, 2022
Language ‏ : ‎ English
File size ‏ : ‎ 962 KB
Print length ‏ : ‎ 199 pages
Young Adult

Toby’s family is not an ordinary family.

They are magical, talented, and special.

His father is a twin and works at the hospital. His older sister wants to be a lawyer. But his dad is also a renowned wizard, as is his uncle, and his sister can influence people. His mum was special too, but she had to leave…

Toby isn’t any of those things. The only special thing he can do is pretty useless. Toby can talk with cats.

The opening chapter of this delightful Young Adult novel introduces Toby and his older sister, Helen, in a dramatic rescue scene. No, they don’t save people from a burning building. They save a cat that has been hit by a car. Helen uses her magic to stop traffic long enough for her to use more magic to heal the injured cat and for Toby to gather up the cat, and her kittens before they race back to their car.

That introduction sucked me in. Partially because of the way Toby stepped into the story with his self-deprecating sense of humor, but also his connection to cats. If you’re new to my blog, I need to disclose that I’m a cat lover. Long-time readers already know that.

Toby communicates with cats, which is his special magical talent, and he uses that talent throughout the story to deal with the dark magic that threatens his family. I wish cats could talk to me like they do to Toby. That way I’d know what that silent gaze is all about.

But back to the story and the threat and the reason Toby’s mother disappeared when he was younger. He didn’t know why she’d left. His father said little about what had prompted the abrupt departure, just telling the kids that she was gone and wouldn’t be coming back.

Major bummer. And major reason Toby is conflicted about his place in the family and whether he can ever be a wizard like his father.

Sorting that all out, as well as dealing with the black magic, propels most of the plot and the drama of this novel, and I enjoyed every part of the story.

Toby is such an engaging character, as is Helen, who is steady and wise, always there to “center” Toby when things get particularly challenging. Then there are the cats that play prominent roles in it all. Katkin, a cat who’s been trapped in a silver bangle for centuries and has magical powers of her own. Flax, the large black cat, who has ruled the roost at home for years and definitely isn’t happy about the “intruders” in the form of a mama cat and her kittens taking up residence.

And there’s plenty of magic.

While the book is written for the Y/A audience, it can be enjoyed by adults as well. You just have to get in touch with your inner child for a while and go along for the magical ride.


Clare Rhoden is a writer, blogger and book reviewer. Inspired by politics, culture, and history, Clare writes thoughtful stories about characters with heart and soul. From immersive world-building in science fiction and fantasy, to well-researched details in historical novels, Clare’s books pivot on hope and love in the darkest of times.

Clare lives in Melbourne Australia with her husband and their very clever spoodle.


Before I go I want to give a quick mention of the awesome Black Friday Giveaway at the Kindle Book Review website. I’m one sponsors with the second book in the Seasons Mystery Series, Stalking Season, and the book is only $1.99 for Kindle until the end of November.

The contest runs until November 23, and you can ENTER THE BLITZ as many times as you’d like for a chance to win a $500 Amazon shopping spree. Wouldn’t that be a great win!!

Signing off now. Have a great weekend. Be happy. Be safe.

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