Book Review: This Rough Magic

by Mary Stewart

a book review by Jackie Houchin

“It’s a rough sort of magic for such as we are – a mere musician, and a couple of players…”

I’ve said many times before that “This Rough Magic” by Mary Stewart is my all-time favorite book ever, and after reading it yet again for the umpteenth time, I still hold that opinion. And now it’s even better than before because I’ve just come from visiting the Greek Island of Corfu.

Marty Stewart is my favorite author. She was a genius at mixing the genres of mystery, exotic adventure, suspense, and light romance without schmaltz or blushing passion. Her writing is evocative and atmospheric. She can portray setting and character, suspense and a variety of emotions, in a few phrases, whereas it would take others paragraphs.. (This is true in all her books.)

I especially like this book because of the wild setting, the sea, the theatre and Greek legend referances, and of course… the dolphin.

Lucy Waring is visiting her sister who is vacationing in Corfu. The idyllic days of beach time and swimming in the blue Adriatic Sea quickly turn to mystery, danger, and even terror, as first one and then two of the island’s men are missing or found dead in “presumed” accidents. Why do the police seem to turn blind eyes to the illegal smuggling going on? And what is going on up at the Castillo dei Fiori, with those dark figures climping the zigzag path on moonless nights?  Which of the handsome men vying for Lucy’s attention is a charleton, a heartless monster in disguise?  How can she tell?  In the breath-holding final chapters, we see her playing her finest, most harrowing role… to trap a killer. And the creature of the sea? He has a part in it too!

The story plays out with such glorious adventure in a mythically awesome setting, that for me – and most likely you – it’s truly unputdownable!


SIX out of five stars.




5 thoughts on “Book Review: This Rough Magic

    • Me too!. I’ve read them all (the romantic suspense, not the Merlin series) several times. She is a very atmospheric writer, (just wish her characters didn’t smoke so much! Haha)

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s a bit mind blowing to think that smoking was so pervasive in the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s. My mum told me that she lost a good friend because mum asked her not to smoke in the house when she had brought her newborn baby home. The woman was so offended!
        Which other of her books are your favourites? I’m tossing up whether to get copies of Thunder on the Right, The Gabriel Hounds & Thornyhold. I wasn’t too keen on the sounds of Touch Not the Cat with its psychic element but it’s hard to tell from Goodreads reviews – they’re so mixed.


  1. Thunder on the Right is good. I really liked My Brother Michael! The Gabriel Hounds has a very exotic setting and is good. I also liked Madam, Will You Talk? and Nine Coaches Waiting.
    I have the same feelings as you about Touch Not The Cat.


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