I am a time travel fan, but time travel is rough. I mean, I can’t imagine it’s too comfortable to be flung through time and space. But I’m thinking more in the execution of a time travel story that doesn’t fall into the crutches that Moffat did with his time on Doctor Who (don’t @ me, I LOVE DW but at some point “It worked out because I’m the Doctor” just doesn’t hold). I very rarely read time travel books because they never hold up for me.
But that all changed with The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell.
Not gonna lie, the cover of this book is what first caught my eye because it reminded me of The Neverending Story and The Neverending Story makes me happy. But then there was the title and that lead to me reading the synopsis and I don’t think I had ever bought anything else as fast as I did when I was done reading the synopsis (that sentence is terrible, but I’m letting it stand because I do what I want). So let’s check out that synopsis, shall we:
“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.”
Hot damn. I’d unpack all the words and phrases in the synopsis that drew me in but then we’d be here for days. So let’s continue on…
Esta is snarky and steely and a Mageus who can manipulate time. Hi, Esta, wanna be my new best friend? I’ve read some reviews where she is compared a bit to Delilah Bard (from the FANTASTIC Shades of Magic series by VE Schwab) and I can see it. She is strong, fierce, wants to prove herself, and has a thing for a grumpy magician that she can’t fully admit to.
Then we have Harte Darrigan. Handsome, charming, stubborn, and with a tragic past…Hi, Harte, wanna be my new boyfriend? Harte is everything I want in a male lead. Remember in the synopsis when it says “the very air crackles with magic.” The air doesn’t crackle with magic, it crackles with tension between Harte and Esta. It’s not over done, its just perfect. Slow burn to the very end and I am all about that.
The secondary cast is well fleshed out and I could see where they all came from and how they got to where they are now. As someone who LOVED Six of Crows, I thoroughly enjoyed the group heist plot aspect of this novel. And of course there is a betrayal (if there isn’t betrayal, is it even a heist book?) and I DID NOT see it coming.
One thing negative I will give this book is the pacing. It felt like stop and go a lot of the time. Some parts I felt like I was devouring the story at a breakneck pace because I needed to know what was going to happen. And then it would slow way down. At 498 pages, I’d call this book a door stopper and part of me thinks it could have been edited down just a bit. But, for all the pacing issues, I am thankful for the rich characters and world that was built.
I would definitely call the ending a cliffhanger, but it wasn’t the kind of cliffhanger where I wanted to howl into the void in agony over the wait for the next book. Sure, I want the next book, but I’ve been waiting since I finished this book last year and I’m still surviving. Though, I’ve been thinking of this book a lot lately, and now I’m starting to get a bit antsy for The Devil’s Thief, which is released on October 9th, 2018. Well heck, I thought it was sooner than that…If I get my hands on a TARDIS I know what my first stop will be!
Recommended for fans of Six of Crows, time travel, urban fantasy, historical fiction, and handsome magicians.