Second bonus review! Since the original link was to a very short introduction, I went ahead and purchased the collected set of all three novellas, "Ash and Magic". That review is:
"Ash and Magic" follows the struggle of Wizard University (an out-of-phase analog to the real-world University of Washington in Seattle) student Ashley as she deals with trying to pass her dueling requirement to stay in school. Already highly accomplished in Summoning, her struggles with War Magic lead to explosive growth both magically and sexually.
This is a personal story, told at the characters' gut levels rather than a sprawling, weighty, oppressive tome of epic fantasy. In setting and tone it's more like Jim Butcher's "Dresden Files", albeit with a female main character, but it's even more personal and less loaded with existential global annihilation than that. We're treated to one woman's troubles, her inner dialog, her struggle to come to grips with who and what she wants to be.
Not to say that this is some kind of droning memoir-style journal; Park keeps the tone light and fun, engaging with the reader in a way that's as charming as it is effective. You find yourself rooting for Ash even while you worry for her. She's far from perfect and part of the fun of the book for me was seeing her make what I think will probably be mistakes, though she seems oblivious as any youngster in the throes of making choices would be. Author Sophie Park's writing style is smooth, conversational, and easy to read.
There's also a delightful frisson between what we in the real world have been taught to think about angels and demons, and seeing what this universe of Park's creation has them actually being, all unfolding through Ash's ongoing and potentially naive experiences. I honestly don't know what the truth of the story is yet, and that's a lot of fun. This could all go horribly wrong in accordance with my cultural expectations, or wonderfully right as we find we've all been misled all along by what Authority has taught us.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and eagerly await the ensuing chapters. Park has a gift for writing engaging prose that never gets in the way of itself, and getting to experience a new world through the eyes of a thoroughly modern female character (who happens to be able to summon demons) was delightful. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys light urban fantasy with the potential to turn darker.
Warning: The novel contains adult language and explicit sexual encounters, all well done but still unquestionable adult in content. Parents of younger readers should be aware that these situations may not be appropriate for their child. For everyone else, giddyup!