Magic Mansion was originally written as a serial and unfortunately it shows when reading it as a novel. Also, the fact that it's about a weekly reality TV contest show only added to the weird up and down reading experience I had. It felt as if I was driving on a hilly road or one of those baby rollercoasters with the gentle rise and fall motion. I think this way of writing the story hindered the development of the relationship between John and Ricardo, the two main magicians. At least that's how it felt to me.
There was just so much about how this TV show was being produced and the details of the competitions; so much behind the scenes stuff when I would rather have been focussed on John and Ricardo. I didn't feel as if I got to see their relationship grow and progress from that initial 'coup de foudre' meeting at the auditions. Instead I felt as if we were being given relationship markers along the way. The pair is at this point of their relationship now here... and then at this point here. And it's a shame because I really, really liked both of them! I wanted way more about them and way less about the BTS shenanigans of the TV show. I find myself wondering how much of this lack was because of the way the story was originally published.
There was also the interesting "True Magic" angle. Some magicians have it, others don't. They can sense it in each other... or is it only some of them that can. I don't know what it is really, I wanted to know more about it and how it formed and affected those magicians that possessed the power. And is that the same thing as the "Truth" reading that John seems to be able to do? I don't know... it seemed to be more important to describe each set, each competition down to the last screw and nail than to explore the truly magical side of things. When I first started the book, a couple of chapters in and the "True Magic" was mentioned, I got all excited because I hadn't been expecting anything like this... then sadly... it became a minor thing, hauled out as a deux ex machina I felt.
Don't get me wrong, the tale was enjoyable, the MCs interesting, the supporting players were fun but the whole thing just ... left me feeling a little disappointed, a little flat, a little let down. I will most definitely read JCP again - I have the first PsyCop in my TBR and that's gotten A LOT of praise from people whose opinions I trust. It's just that I felt this book could have been a helluva lot more.