Title: A Criminal Magic
Author: Lee Kelly
Genre: Young Adult Alternate Historical Fiction
Publisher: Saga Press-Imprint of Simon and Schuster
Pub Date: February 2, 2016
Pages: 424-ARC That I got at ALAMW16
My Copy: Courtesy of Simon and Schuster-ARC
Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive - and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.
It's 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city's magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters' crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer's shine.
Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC's most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family's home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.
Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic - and when their paths cross at the Shaws' performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.
I was completely engrossed with this book from start to finish. I totally love how this is an alternate 1920’s where Magic is very much at the center of the story and how these two characters, Joan and Alex find themselves falling for one another, despite their circumstances of being on opposite sides.
The Alternate 1920’s, Magic as Forbidden,
One of the things that I like is the alternate roaring 1920’s that she has created. You feel like that this world is so true. Instead of having prohibition, we have practitioners of magic that are locked up because of the amendment that was passed that made practicing magic illegal. The fact that Magic or even the practice is illegal sets up our story. The reason it’s illegal is that some sorcerers make this potion called Shine which is like a drug and it’s quite addictive. People get really high off of it. It’s very tricky to make and can only be made by sorcerers that are quite gifted. I totally love how this is explained.
The Romance between Joan and Alex, backstories
One of the things that I really liked is the way the backstories of our two main characters are presented. Joan comes from a small town that has a family history of powerful magicians or sorcerers like her uncle. Her mother had blood magic. The blood magic is powerful and needs to be used only in the most extreme situations. This blood magic is really rare but Joan knows how to do it. She can make the shine. So when she meets Gunn, her life changes in a way as the family is struggling to survive. Joan does what she has to in order to make her life better. I like the fact that she takes charge of her life and wants to make her brother and sister’s life easier by taking Gunn’s offer that was meant for her Uncle Jed. This is in sharp contrast to Alex’s backstory. Alex had a father that was infamous for what he had done. Alex has to live with that shame. He got out of the mess by deciding to pursue a career in law enforcement. There is a lot of things that happen with Alex. Also the way the romance developed between Joan and Alex was a very good and interesting way to start it. They also both learn that they have a wonderful gifts and ways to use the magic they were both born and have learn ways to use them. I really liked how close they got.
Lots of Twists, Revealations, and tons of surprises,
I like that this book had some really interesting crazy twists. The fact that both Joan and Alex take on some big time risks with their magic and performances really was an excellent way to expand on who they were as individuals. The twists were really different than what I thought would happen. Also the fact that the criminal element in this story is very much from and center. What is going to happen when things spiral out of control and they have to make decisions. Plus, what happens right at the end of this book left me saying “WHAT”… I was definitely shocked by that ending.
Overall a very good book.