Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday #Review - The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell #YALit #Fantasy #Historical @LisaMaxwellYA ‏@SimonKIDS

Series: The Last Magician # 1
Format: Hardcover, 512 pages
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Source: Edelweiss
Genre: YA  / Fantasy / Historical

From Unhooked author Lisa Maxwell comes a captivating new world filled with magic and deception, about a girl who must travel back in time to find a mysterious book that could save her future.

Stop the Magician.
Steal the book.
Save the future.

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she's been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

The Last Magician is the first installment in author Lisa Maxwell's The Last Magician duology. Maxwell is also the author of Unhooked, Sweet Unrest, and The Gathering Deep. Told in the third person narrative, the story is set in an alternative New York City, but through different time frames like 1899, 1901, 1926, and the present. It is a story that features characters like Esta Filosik, Harte Darrigan, Dolph Saunders, & Jack Crew. One could argue that Esta is truly the main protagonist because of her ability and her curious upbringing

The story begins with Esta, a brilliant safe cracker and artifact hunter who also has the ability to travel through time and slow it down, traveling back to the year 1926 where she is on a mission to find what's called the Pharaoh's Heart. From there, she is sent back to 1901 to stop the destruction of a book called the Ars Arcana that could potentially destroy the Brink. The Brink is a magical barrier that keeps the Mageus from leaving the city with their magic intact. Esta has to infiltrate a group run by Dolph Saunders, find the Magician, survive being stabbed in the back, and return to the future with the book intact. Easy Peasy, right? 

The settings for this book is absolutely remarkable. As a descendant of Italians who came thru Ellis Island, and settled in the lower part of Manhattan, this really did bring that era to life in a huge way. This is a society that is ruled by gangs, and of course the Order who loves to keep those with magic under their thumbs. They have no issue with rounding up Mageus and making them disappear without a trace. It is a dog eat dog world, and if you are weak, you will just be tossed aside like so much garbage. The deplorable conditions that immigrants live in is realistic and heart breaking. 

I loved the pacing of the story, the details brought to light before our eyes, and the story that is remarkably engaging in all aspects. I loved Esta. I loved her ability to weave the spaces in between and travel any where in time. I loved that she is feisty, and capable all on her own of proving that she is as good, or better than any man in this story. I loved that she can break out of any situation, any lock, with just shear strength of her character. I loved the betrayal aspect of the story as well. You really can't trust anyone in this story, for they all have agendas. 

There are other characters in this book that stand out as well. Like Jianyu, who is Chinese (can bend light), and Viola Vaccarelli, an Italian who is a trained assassin and is deadly with a knife. Yes, there is a bit of romance as well, but it doesn't snuff out the action, or the mystery, or the backstabbing that takes place right before our eyes. Since this is part one of the duology, there is an ending that isn't closed. It is open ending. I am encouraged by the start of this series, and do look forward to seeing what Maxwell does next.

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