Iron Magicians: The Search for the Magic Crystal by Cétrix & Yuio (ARC Review)

Iron Magicians

Information

Goodreads: Iron Magicians: The Search for the Magic Crystal
Series: Comic Quests #5
Source: Quirk Books for review
Publication Date: August 6, 2019

Official Summary

This middle-grade graphic novel series makes YOU the hero of a fantasy quest—pick your panel, find items, cast spells, defeat enemies, solve puzzles, and play through new storylines again and again!

Step inside a steampunk re-imagining of nineteenth-century Paris, where magic and machines exist in harmony. The Eiffel Tower—a secret weapon built with magic—is almost complete, but the crystals that power the structure are missing! Find the hidden crystals and survive your dangerous mission.

HERE’S HOW TO PLAY:
• Select your character and begin your quest.
• Numbers are hidden in every panel. Decide where you want to go next, and then flip to the panel with the matching number.
• Solve puzzles, cast spells, and defeat enemies in your quest for success. Only after you’ve collected all the crystals will your journey be complete.
• If you fail your mission, just start again from the beginning! You can play the book again and again, making different choices every time.

Remember, this is no ordinary comic book—what happens next is up to you!

Star Divider

Review

An interactive comic book seems obvious, now that I’ve read one, but I’d never heard of one until Quirk Books included Iron Magicians on their Fall 2019 release list.  (In fact, there are apparently four other interactive comics in this series—not related to Iron Magicians; they’re just other interactive comics—and somehow all have managed to escape my notice.)  Now that I have read Iron Magicians, however, I think this may be my new favorite concept.

The book was, however, more intense than I anticipated, almost more a game than a story with a pick-your-path element.  I took the book on a train with me, expecting it to be an entertaining way to pass the time, only to realize I was expected to keep track of my skill points, inventory, spells, and gather energy (gathering 30 energy points is your ultimate goal), and I hadn’t brought a pencil.  (You can write in the book itself, and there are multiple pages to do so, but I ultimately elected, once off the train, to use a piece of paper.)  You’re also supposed to use a crayon to spin on two different wheels at the back of the book.  One wheel determines your skill points and whether you win or lose battles.  The other is a compass.  Not having a crayon or a suitable substitute, or a good way to spin one on a train anyway, I ended up fudging the numbers and generally assuming I won battles so I could move on.  Basically, if you want to read this book, come prepared!

Ultimately, I really did feel immersed, more so than with more traditional pick-your-path books.  The illustrations helped, not only because the book is so visual, but also because the author plays around with having readers, for example, go into a room and then choose different people to talk to, just to chat.  Some panels are also just you walking down the hall or looking at a door.  Then you need to go to a different panel to move down the hall or enter the door.  I got seriously lost in the swamp, coming back to the same panels again or again.  Basically, there’s a sense of “walking” or interacting with the space I haven’t gotten from most pick-your-path books.  There are also several riddles and codes.  Some I found fairly straightforward, which is fair since I think this is technically a middle grade book, and some I genuinely had to think about for a bit to solve.  The challenge was great.

The story lines are interesting and kept me engaged, but you’re definitely not reading for plot here.  I do think it’s more game-like than other takes on this concept, with some RPG components and the ideas of fighting opponents, gathering objects, etc.

If you like interactive books, I highly recommend Iron Magicians.  It took me several hours over a couple day to complete, and there’s enough in the book I think I could read it at least one more time without getting bored, though I do always semi-cheat and try to look at extra paths.  I can’t wait to see more from this author and maybe more in this series!

5 stars Briana

5 thoughts on “Iron Magicians: The Search for the Magic Crystal by Cétrix & Yuio (ARC Review)

  1. Michael J. Miller says:

    Oh my gosh this sounds so fun! I’ve loved the choose-your-own-adventure books since I was a kid. And the keeping track of your power/points/etc. here remind me of the ‘Lone Wolf’ series of choosable path novels I read when I was little. They were fantasy stories where your powers and skills would follow you and grow with you as you progressed from book to book. Although this sounds way more intense! Thank you for putting this on my radar! I’m always up for new versions of this type of story.

    A few years ago I found Ryan North’s choose-your-own-path versions of Shakespeare plays (there are two, ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ and ‘Romeo and/or Juliet’). They are far more traditional then this story but they do have fun illustrations and I’ve stumbled upon a couple puzzles. They are hilarious too. One ending saw me as Juliet (you can pick which characters you want to play and sometimes switch in the story) cradling Romeo’s dying body as he whispered, “Don’t let the ninja’s win…” and I turned to face them. So basically I loved it :).

    Liked by 1 person

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