I liked this alright. It's quite short (being a novella), ringing in at just under 80 pages. It's quite well-written, though the constant, heavy descriptions of magic use were exhausting at times. Every time Mika - whose name it took me half the novella to learn because this is first person - uses her magic it is described in excruciating detail of threads and weaving and whatnot. There are books like Harry Potter, which basically say "magic happened and it was quite difficult," and there are books like Eragon which wax poetic about how the magic happened. Note that the use of Eragon here is not at all related to the plot of this novella, which is not Star Wars in Middle Earth.
The plot is quite good, though it seems to be middle grade. Or at least, it had that feeling to me, as there weren't any real consequences for the protagonist. In fact, I think this storyline would work really well with some neat illustrations for the MG crowd! It is dark at times, but no more dark than Legend of Korra, which was allegedly a show for children.
Unfortunately, fantasy worlds with guns are not something I can get behind without suspending literally all belief. It's like walking into a Michael Bay film - you go for the explosions, and try your hardest to pretend there is a plot (again, do not confuse this with criticism of the novella's plot). This goes double due to the amount of focus Mika has to put into using magic at all. If magic seemed to be instinctual and reactive, then guns wouldn't seem out of the question. As it stands, the danger doesn't seem real, because there are no consequences for anything. The Joker dangles Batman off a cliff but doesn't drop him because without Batman he has nothing else to do. You know the protagonist won't get shot because the story isn't over yet. Guns, in my opinion, work far better as a tension device in films, and even then it's iffy when nobody ever gets shot. They feel more like set dressing than what they are, which is a hair trigger death.
Double marks for not ending on a cliffhanger. It's gotten to the point where a cliffhanger will make me set a series aside nine times out of ten. It's cheap.
In all, I did like this, though I do strongly feel that this would work better for a middle grade audience due to the utter lack of consequence. Then again, I like my characters amoral and my plots bleak. If you are one for a happy ending, this novella will delight you to no end, and don't let me Grinch all over your happiness.
Thank you to the author, who provided a review e-copy to me in exchange for an honest review.