Synopsis: In the gritty city of Dusk, seventeen-year-old Irina makes her living as the street magician Bantheir’s assistant. The job isn’t glamorous, but she loves the crowds, the shows, and most of all, the illusion of magic. But Irina’s world is shattered the night she is arrested and charged as Bantheir’s accomplice to murder—murder by magic.
Real magic, the kind that’s been forbidden since the old wars.
Irina finds the idea of flashy showman Bantheir using actual magic to kill someone laughable, but she’s the only one who sees how ridiculous the claim is. But how can she convince everyone Bantheir is innocent when they’ve already made up their minds? Desperate, Irina must decide who she can trust to help her win her freedom. Is the surly, handsome Captain Leonid telling the truth when he says he believes Irina is innocent, or is he just using her to get to Bantheir? What about Aden, the sweet soldier and longtime fan of Irina’s who claims he’s on her side?
Irina said she wanted to know the truth, but when she stumbles across a dark secret that changes everything, will she be strong enough to survive?
“Everyone deserves a chance to live, I thought…But no one has the right to say their life is more important than another’s.”
This book was not what I expected it to be. And unfortunately not in the best way.
I will fully admit to requesting this book because I fell in love with the cover art and the description. I’ve said many times before that I am one of those people who will judge a book by its cover and that is likely what can get me into some trouble when choosing books.
I thought this book would be filled with magical elements or at least have magic as a running theme, which it did to some degree, but most of the book ended up feeling like more of a “who-dun-it” murder mystery book than the magical fantasy novel I was expecting.
While the overall tone, pacing and world were enticing I really wish the author would’ve spent more time fleshing everything out and explaining why “real magic” is forbidden instead of just giving us little glimpses.
The characters also felt like they lacked depth to me. While I really liked them overall, I kept feeling like their personalities would flip-flop and change and that was hard to relate to at times. The only character I really liked, Vernen, ended up getting the short end of the stick from the plot in the end and my favorite things about him were destroyed.
Leonid and Irina were an interesting relationship and I still don’t know how I completely feel towards them. The banter between Leonid and Irina was cute, when it actually was banter and not teasing, there is a difference. And I can see myself really growing to love their relationship as the series progresses if there is some change in their dynamic, it’s just hard to get past a lot of what happened between them in the beginning of the book.
I agree with another reviewer I read that the book did a good job in the beginning really jumping into the story but then unfortunately slowed down to almost a crawl until right near the end. While there was enough to keep me interested, I felt that putting so much at the beginning and then at the end with very little in the middle was a mistake as it’s hard to keep focused when the story seems to drag.
Overall this was a nice and easy read, one that kept me interested enough that I wanted to know how the characters were going to end up and where the story was headed. While it had its issues I still feel that it has lots of potential and I’m most likely going to take a look at the sequel, hopefully sometime soon, to see how the next chapter unfolds.
*I received this free ebook through NetGalley from Patchwork Press – Cooperative in exchange for an honest review*
Extra Thoughts (Spoilers Ahead):
- The whole debacle with Aden and Irina could’ve been handled better in my opinion. He was such a cute and dorky character and I was disappointed that the story went in the rape direction with him, and overall it made the other characters behave poorly too, although I was happy at the potential for his “redemption” even though I honestly didn’t really buy that he was such a bad guy in the first place.
- Leonid being so violent didn’t sit well with me at all. I’m not a big fan of violent characters, even when it’s in protection of a loved one. I always feel like there is a better solution than just outright violence, especially when most of his personality is shown to be so sweet.
- I wish that Irina would’ve shown more qualities that made it more reasonable for me to believe her as a spy, because honestly it was very hard to. She had a very delicate nature about her besides the sarcasm and so it was hard to believe that anyone would trust her or give her access to such an important mission.
- The fact that the prison had every convenience imaginable was a bit unbelievable and I kept wanting the author to show us more places considering that Irina had such a love for Dusk but we got to see so little of it.
- I did love the idea of real magic being disguised as fake carnie magic, there needed to be more of that.
- And more of the almost gypsy, victorian style atmosphere because that was really interesting as well.