The Last Magician, by Lisa Maxwell
On Sale Date: July 18, 2017
**I received this as an e-galley from Simon Pulse through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.**
My Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5 out of 5 stars)
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 1901 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.
Let me just start off by saying that this book is dense.. Not that it’s a bad thing. It just took me a really long time to finish it. And it wasn’t because it wasn’t interesting or anything – in fact just the opposite – there was just a lot there. I’m also going to claim fatigue as well for a reason why it took so long to finish, because I’ve been working a lot more recently and every time I would sit down to read my tired eyes just wouldn’t cooperate and focus properly. But anyway, enough of that, onto the review.
When I first read the synopsis for this book, I knew I was going to want to read it. Actually, that may have started with the cover but “you’re not supposed to judge a book by that”….*shrugs*. Anyway, this book is a beautiful combination of thieves, magic, and time travel. It’s as though Lisa Maxwell looked at my brain, saw what kind of books I really enjoy reading, and pulled the three major elements out of those and put them into one book. And it is an excellent combination.
To begin with, the world building is both wonderfully complicated yet easy to understand and follow along. I felt like I immediately understood the magic and people of the world, with explanations of it coming naturally to the story and not all at once in some awful info-dump (I hate those). The settings were also excellently expressed, with descriptions of characters and places that built up the time periods and kept the feel of them throughout, so never was I in doubt of when these characters were existing. The plot was intricate yet easy to follow, with many twists and turns, some of which I guessed and some I did not entirely, and kept me engaged the entire time I was reading it. There were some complicated explanations of hermetic sciences and alchemy and comparisons between “old” and “ritual” magic that I’m not sure I always entirely understood, but otherwise I had no trouble immersing myself in the world of this novel.
Finally, the characters were wonderful and interesting, particularly Harte and Esta. They both had a lot of depth and intriguing characteristics about them, and their personalities and desires took them in directions I didn’t always expect, which was made for an interesting read. I will say the secondary characters felt like they could have been developed a bit more, because with the few scraps that the reader is given over the course of the novel of their characteristics, it feels like we were just scraping the surface of their personalities. I want to know more about them, and who knows, maybe that will happen in the next novel. (I’m assuming there will be a next novel, right?) Also, there was one who was a little too reminiscent of a another infamous thief and gang leader from another book series…but he still had his own detriments that made him a little unique.
So, other than my extremely slow pace of reading this (then again, it took me over a month to read ACOWAR and this book has over 500 pages I think I might have just been right on track with it), and desire for a little bit more in terms of the characters themselves, I would say this book was an excellent read. It was both a great urban fantasy and time period piece, with a great characters, wonderful world-building and writing, and a plotline that keeps the reader captivated. Towards the beginning, when I first started reading it, I kept thinking “this is like a combination of Six of Crows and Back to the Future” and while it kind of is and isn’t, I would say if you like both of those, then I would definitely recommend this book to you.
P.S. I would also like to note that I was utterly confused about why the synopsis and all the promotional blurbs kept saying this was set in 1902 and when I finally got my copy I realized why:
Apparently my egalley was off by a year (and remained so throughout)….that’s probably the weirdest discrepancy between an egalley and a finished copy I’ve seen yet.