Destruction, by Sharon Bayliss

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Publication date: April 14th 2014
Pages: 250
ISBN: 9781620075159


David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn’t a choice.

Eleven years ago, David’s secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without.

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David’s wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children.

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.


I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.

In the acknowledgements of this book, Bayliss thanks J.K. Rowling for "inspiring my love for magic and wizards... despite her biased portrayal of Slytherins." This little sentence tells more of the book than one might imagine. In a way, it feels like Bayliss has set herself the goal of turning dark magic and other Slytherin-associated traits greyer. Not that this book has a setting or magic similar to Potter. Quite on the contrary, as this is set in the American suburbs and the differences in magic lay beyond the lack of use of a wand. And, of course, instead of our righteous boy with a hero complex, we have a cheating man whose courage wavers more often than not.

Indeed, the very story begins with an act of cowardice from David. After years of looking for his old mistress and their children, they are found but not at all like David wished. The children suffered abuse ever since their father left, and as for their mother, she is, quite simply, dead. But, despite years of searching, David never told his wife what happened. Now that he is collecting his children to bring them to his home, he doesn't either. He lets his wife put two and two together instead. A coward, wouldn't you say? And yet, this is a man who shows to care deeply for his family and to be capable of doing anything for them in various accounts. Just like the rest of his family members, like every character in this book, David has both light and darkness in him.

An interesting thing to find when one considers that the magic system in Destruction is heavily based on the concept of light versus dark, of seasons, and of a compatible incompatibility between them. As this system is explained throughout the book and I wish to keep this review spoiler free, I will only say that it is a rather interesting one that reminded me a bit of the Celts.

The story itself was engrossing and had a good pace that did not fail to make one think "just one more chapter". In spite of the existence of magic in a contemporary setting, this book does not take the common path of making it about the magic, about how different these characters are from anyone else, before setting them off to destroy some hidden evil wizard that is wrecking havoc without the common mortals noticing it properly. Instead, this is a story about David's family first and foremost, about their individual and family problems, and about their acceptance and learning of a magic they did not know to have.

It is an original story in many ways, but it had one great flaw that is hard to excuse. Plenty of these characters have been abused in one way or another, yet not only do we not know how most of them were abused, but we do not see the consequences of what should be a traumatic experience for all of these characters. They mostly seem to shrug it off and move on the next day. One character in particular comes to mind.

Nonetheless, Destruction was an interesting read that did a great job at showing that magic is not light or dark, even when it seems it can only go one way. 

The book in a quote

"We do not believe that light exists in spite of darkness. We believe that light exists because of it."