Friday, 4 November 2016

A Criminal Magic [Book Review & Giveaway!]

Hello there!

Title: A Criminal Magic
Author: Lee Kelly
Publisher: Saga Press
Published Date: 2nd February 2016
Rating: 4 Stars

*Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for the review copy*


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Synopsis: 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.

A Criminal Magic casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties.

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Review: A Criminal Magic was a novel I wanted to read after everything I had heard about it. There were so many positive reviews and it sounded so promising. The novel did not disappoint in the slightest. I was immersed in this book from the beginning to the end.

What initially captivated me was the voice of the main characters. This novel is told from two alternating points of view – that of Alex and also Joan’s too. The best thing about both these characters was their development. I feel like we really follow them on their journey to becoming better – or maybe even worse – people than they started out as being. They have their reasons for everything they do, and as readers we get to see this through the gradual explanation of their backstory. They sounded so real to me, it was almost as if they could jump out of the page and join me in reality. I loved Alex and his charming determination in everything he did. I loved Joan for the way that she cared for her family like crazy.


The world building was done incredibly well, especially when it came to the boundaries and limitations of magic. Everything made complete sense to me, and I loved that magic was something which was temporary. And even though I have read books where magic is criminal before, the addition of ‘shine’ and how it can be used as a drug was something entirely original to this novel. It added a whole lot of depth and well, seeing as the main plot revolved around this it was incredibly relevant. I just loved the daring, dark side to magic that was depicted here.

The secondary characters were well done, and they all had their own roles to play. I feel like the secondary characters were given a lot more focus in the beginning of the novel, and the first half. We got to see their personalities shine, and a bit of their lives as well. But that was one thing I would have wanted to see a little more, especially in the latter part of the book. Then the focus really shifted to our protagonists and they faded into the background, only taking to the stage when it came to be of importance to the plot.


Now let’s talk about the plot… it was so good! Gradually you saw how Joan and Alex’s stories became entwined… There was so much going on (well, this is the criminal side of things, so of course there was.) There was a whole lot of betrayal and a whole load of plot twists I didn’t see coming. Even when I thought that everything was set and a done deal, the author put another spin on things that shocked me once again. The plot was incredibly clever, well written, and took me on a brilliant rollercoaster ride. If you’re a plot driven reader, you’ll appreciation the suspense and tension of this novel!

The ending really got to me. As it was happening I was so involved, and could see things unfolding that made me want to cry out to the characters to do things differently. The reader ends up knowing more than the characters themselves do and well… the ending just broke my heart. The author played me perfectly, just the way they wanted to.


The romance was okay. It was there, but it never took the forefront of the story or was particularly wowing. It was necessary for the plot to work, and it was a nice enough touch.

A very, very spell-binding book. I was hooked from start to finish.


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Gif Summary: 

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Giveaway: Enter to win a hard copy of A Criminal Magic, and a few of Lee's other favourite magic reads: A Darker Shade of Magic, The Night Circus, The Witch Hunter and a preorder of Caraval!


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Olivia’s Question: Could you live a criminal lifestyle if you knew it was the only way to keep your family safe?

Olivia-Savannah x

14 comments:

  1. What a fun contest! I hope I win!

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  2. Alex and Joan sound so amazing! The world building on point tho! 👍
    Haniya
    booknauthors.blogspot.com

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    1. They were brilliant characters and the world building shattered my world <3

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  3. This sounds like a great read. I love that it is so magical and that the two main characters are so well developed. Thanks for sharing! :)
    ~Jess

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    1. The characters were absolutely brilliant <3

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  4. Hmmm, life outside of the law to keep my family safe? If every other option is exhausted? Then, likely. ;)

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    1. I think I would probably be able to do it too, if it was for my family!

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  5. I love books that have good characters. It makes a big difference in what is a good read and what is not. Sounds like it moved right along- my kind of read too! :)
    Glad you enjoyed this one.

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    1. I have to agree, characters can make or break a novel for me too. :)

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  6. Amazing photographs and infographics! I love how you integrate photography and text graphics into your blog content. I plan to do this as well. Here is my latest blog post from earlier today: http://www.briggs-artstudio.com/blog/category/entertainment
    Keep up the great work, you are inspiring!

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