Book Review: English Magic – Uschi Gatward

English Magic paperback book cover
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Rating: 3 out of 3.

English Magic is Uschi Gatward’s debut short story collection involving fictional snapshots of Englishness. Yes, that does mean tea and biscuits, but also a range of situations—casual, emotional, mysterious, and bizarre. And all very timely.

12 masterfully told stories take you around England, past and present. Here are some key features you can look forward to in this collection, a surprisingly satisfying read.

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Intriguing Glimpses of Everyday Life

While some stories in English Magic play with politics, intrigue, and more, others are unassuming yet very engaging. From a couple tackling a bird trapped behind their fireplace to a creche’s trip to the beach, even these tales are enthralling.

In other words, you might end up with a few favourites, but this whole collection of stories will hook your heart and mind in different unexpected ways.

Immersive Narration and Characters

The quality of the writing makes English Magic especially powerful. It’s simple but very well-tuned to boost the effects of each short story. Rich and intriguing characters complement your experiences.

The political subversion is palpable but not tiring. The magic of Beltane gives your spine a delicious tickle. Memories of the past trick perceptions of the present.

There are moments and structures that confused me, but I found myself entertained every step of the way regardless.

Stories Without Endings

Linear narration, explanations, and conclusions aren’t necessary to move a reader, and this collection proves it. English Magic is a fantastic example of what stories can do without following a traditional structure.

As you read, you’ll feel and think about things, while often coming to your own conclusions, shaping each story with your interpretations. A major aspect of what writing as art can achieve.


English Magic is a must-read debut in fiction and short story collections. High-quality experiences await inside to take you from the sweet and mundane to the unsavoury and distressing. This is also a great choice for writers who want to know how to tell simple short stories in unique and intriguing ways.

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Author: Electra Nanou

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