A Criminal Magic/ posted in: Reading A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly
Published by Saga Press on February 2nd 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive - and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.
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.
Prohibition in the 1920s recast as a ban on magic instead of alcohol? Yes, please.
Magic has been driven underground. After a person does magic they are able to focus their energy into liquid to make a magical brew called shine. The more complicated the magic, the stronger the shine. Speakeasies pop up where people can watch an illegal magic show and then buy the shine that the sorcerers make after the performance. Shine can’t be bottled. It doesn’t keep past a few hours. The person who learns how to bottle it stands to make a fortune.
A group of powerful sorcerers are brought together to compete for the chance to be part of a high end speakeasy. As the profits and the magic soars, the sorcerers find themselves kept captive by the criminal bosses that own the club.
This book had so much promise that I don’t feel like it fully lived up to. It was good but at the end there was a vague feeling that it should have been more. It might be The Night Circus effect. Every book that involves setting up magical venues is going to pale a bit in my mind when compared to that book.
Read this book if you are more into 1920s stories with gangsters than urban fantasy. It much more of a criminal story than a magic-first story. Magic is the illegal substance that fuels the crime, not an end unto itself.
There are times of great imagination and other times the grand spectacles that the sorcerers are supposed to be making fell a little flat for me. I mean, I’m sure making a sunset out of thin air would be cool in person but this is fantasy so I’d expect something grander for the highest-end club in Washington, D.C.