I read this as a Kindle book, although I think as an Advance Reader Copy rather through the Amazon interface (there was a time when I had a surfeit of spare time and volunteered to help proofread in exchange for free books), some time around 2012-2016. I'm blanking on a lot of the details, but the main character, a teenage boy, finds a smartphone in a hotel room (I want to say that one or both of his parents owned the hotel? Worked there?) and he learns that the icons on its home screen cast spells. Not long after that, the actual owner of the phone, a kind of dark magician, is after him. If I recall correctly, the phone was a new prototype and the magical society hadn't yet decided whether it should be allowed to stand. This might have even been an illicitly obtained prototype. Either way, it bypassed the usual method of long study and memorization of rituals, and it was very important for this dark wizard to find it again.

Other than that, it's a bunch of vague memories. I remember that one of the early spells he uses creates a small tornado that I think wrecks the hotel room. A later spell, I think sets fire to his school's theatre prop room. He has a female friend who is involved in the theatre who winds up accompanying him as they try to evade the dark wizard and I think there are hints of a blossoming romance. At some point, the dark wizard is leaving a social club of some sort which caters to wizards. At another point, the protagonist and his friend are at some sort of underground area where magical creatures that can't fit in with humans live, and they're attacked by dark wizards, one of which has the protagonist's father's face (I believe said father was away on business travel, and it looked like this was going to shape up to be the source of the protagonist's ability to use the magic phone, but it turned out it was an illusion or a coincidence).

It's not part of Diane Duane's Young Magician series, although I know they also have magic smartphones. I don't remember anything about the cover. I feel like it was supposed to be the first book of a series, but I don't know if further books were ever released.

1 Answer 1


I found it, but not in a way easily repeatable for others. I remembered that one of the other books I'd done the ARC for was The Switch, from Curiosity Quills, so I started searching for books from them that mentioned magic and smartphone and my search for site:goodreads.com "curiosity quills" smartphone magic brought up How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin' Days by Megan O'Russell.

Ever wanted to grow a five-story tall flower in Central Park? How about fight a deadly battle under the subway tunnels of Manhattan?

Don't worry. I never wanted to either. But if you're ever being chased by ladies made of mist and have to save the girl with the sparkly eyes you've never had the guts to say actual words to, there's an app for that.

I found a magic cell phone, opened an app I shouldn't have, burned down my high school's theatre, and it was all downhill from there. A seer guarded by the undead is my only hope for keeping my mom alive, and I’m pretty sure the cops are after me for destroying my dad's penthouse.

But it gets better! Now I'm stuck being the sidekick to the guy who got me into this mess in the first place. It'll be a miracle if I survive until Monday.

So, it has the magic smartphone, the fire at the theatre, his father's penthouse at the hotel, and the reviews mention the love interest.

It looks like it has received one sequel, Seven Things Not to do When Everyone's Trying to Kill You.

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