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.
So, this was another book that (due to an online offer) I had just a matter of a couple hours to read. To be honest, upon first glance at page length and tone, I didn’t think it’d be worth it. I could tell I’d enjoy the book if I really gave it a chance, but I didn’t think I’d like it enough to try and marathon 800 pages in two hours.
That was, until… I read a tweet from the author deacribing the book as “history, magic, and cute boys in suspenders.” While this may seem like a ridiculous reason to read a book of this length, I would like to remind everyone of my all time favorite character, Daniel Sheridan, the ultimate cute boy in suspenders (from Something Strange and Deadly). Thus, I decided to give this little novel a chance.
Overall, I enjoyed it a lot! The first few hundred pages were a bit slow, but once we had Esta and Harte working together on the mission, it was really captivating. The two characters had a really strong dynamic that made you want to keep reading, because you honestly had NO CLUE what kind of stunt they would decide to pull. xP
On one side, I didn’t really like the changing POVs. We had five or six POVs in this novel, with two of them being the main focuses. The shorter POVs, the ones that lasted only a few pages and never returned, made the plot feel very choppy and harder to understand. There were a few times I actually just skipped those chapters because they were just confusing me more than anything else.
On the other side, I was also a bit confused by their magic. The magic itself, where it comes from, how it works, etc. was really never covered. It was very unclear to me—did the artifacts they were looking for CONTAIN their magic? Why were the artifacts so important (other than the Brink). The world building there was a bit week for me, I think the focus was just in the wrong place.
Overall, however, I did really enjoy this book. The characters were wonderful, the setting was wonderful, and the time travel was written really well. The plot was exceptionally in depth and detail in a way that YA doesn’t seem often—it was not simplified at all. The cliffhanger at the end really killed me, tbh, especially after I had marathoned the book and had sucked myself into the story.
If you enjoy steampunk, you’ll like this novel. It’s a strong historic fiction novel that one can’t help but enjoy, especially if you don’t mind heftier novels.
3.5 our of 5 Stars.