I received this book for free from The Fantastic Flying Book Club in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Black Blade #1
Published by K-Teen on April 28, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, YA Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Young Adult
Amazon • Barnes & Noble • iBooks • Add to Goodreads
There Be Monsters Here. . .
It’s not as great as you’d think, living in a tourist town that’s known as “the most magical place in America.” Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.
I try to keep out of it. I’ve got my mom’s bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.
But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend’s pawn shop, and I have to make a call–get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn’t. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I’m stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I’m going to end up just like her. . .
I’ve only been a fan of Jennifer Estep’s books for a couple of months, having recently started reading her Elemental Assassin series (I made a weekend reading marathon of the first nine books). I haven’t yet picked up any of her YA books, so I was intrigued when I learned that she would be starting her second YA series, this one sounding a little bit edgier than Mythos Academy.
In Cold Burn of Magic, book 1 of Jennifer Estep’s new Black Blade series, 17-year-old Lila Merriweather is a thief who’s spent her life trying to attract as little attention as possible, and for good reason. She’s gifted with Sight, but also a rare magical ability called transference, which allows her to absorb magic when it is used on her and then turn around and use it to her advantage. But rare and powerful magic comes with a price—in a town ruled by magic-wielding Families constantly in conflict, you could lose your life if you choose the wrong side, get caught in the middle of a skirmish, or even simply attract the attention of someone who wants to rip the magic out of you and take it for themselves. Then Lila does something that proves no good deed goes unpunished: she saves the life of the scion of the Sinclair Family, which just happens to be the mob currently in conflict with the most powerful Family in town, the Draconis.
First off, I need to underscore the fact that Estep is a masterful builder of worlds. The nature and rules of magical Talents and use, the multilayered and complex society through which the characters are forced to navigate, the intrigue-filled political climate that hangs between the magical and non-magical authorities and the different Families—all these things combine into a compelling and texture-rich setting for the story. And it says a lot about an author’s world-building skills when, to cope with your book hangover, you come up with side stories for characters who might exist in the world but weren’t developed or even mentioned in the novel. Like a librarian. Or a teacher at Lila’s high school. Or a tourist keen on seeing all there is to see of “the most magical place in America.” You get the picture.
Another point in this novel’s favor is the main character herself. Lila is a deliciously complex, conflicted character. You get a sense of her youth when she talks about wishing she had a pixie so she wouldn’t have to make her bed or do any housekeeping-related chores. But she also has a cynical edge that ages her in a this-girl-has-seen-bad-stuff-and-keeps-seeing-it kind of way. She has a marked addiction to bacon and a seemingly compulsive need to steal valuables whenever and wherever she gets the opportunity. She makes a big deal out of looking out for number one and never relying or really trusting anyone but herself, but then she goes out and puts herself in danger to save someone she doesn’t even know and she goes out of her way to befriend a character predisposed to disliking her. She’s got a hot temper, but also the cold head (and blood) to match it. To put it simply, she’s a character with depth and multiple facets.
Then there’s the action and intrigue, which are infused into every chapter of the book. What exactly happened to Lila’s mom? Even when we learn more about that, we’re left with lingering questions. How did their enemy find them? What exactly was done to her, and why? Will Lila get justice for her? How? Beyond the personal intrigue, though, is the political: What are the Draconis up to, and are they all in on it, or are there innocent parties within the Family? Who is trying to kill Devon Sinclair, the boy Lila is charged with protecting, and how do they know so much about him? Add a handful of adrenaline-charged fight scenes to the mix, and you’ve got one humdinger of a page-turner.
I would definitely recommend Cold Burn of Magic to any fan of urban fantasy or YA fantasy. The book will be out on April 28, 2015, and is currently available for preorder for $7.53 on Amazon. I also cannot wait for Book 2 in the series, Dark Heart of Magic, which is also available for preorder at $7.53 on Amazon and set for release in October 2015.
Series Reading Order
Giveaway (US Only)
One lucky winner will get a $20 Amazon gift card and a print copy of Cold Burn of Magic. Four more winners will also get copies of the book. Join via the raffle below: