A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly
What I drank prior:
I’m on a bit of a gin kick. So, mostly gin. Yet again, there was some lemonade…. it’s a good combo.
It’s a world where magic has been outlawed (instead of alcohol) during prohibition. That doesn’t mean that people don’t practice. Our heroes are Joan and John. Joan is a woman from a small town trying to protect her cousin and young sister. John’s dad is in jail for magic and has a chip on his shoulder because of it. They’re recruited by a mobster who thinks that magic can be greater than the sum of its parts and wants the best magicians to host a show for oodles of money. And also it’s super dangerous because mob.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: Look I started out with very strong opinions on both of our main characters, in that I loved one and loathed the other. Parts of those opinions changed drastically over the course of the book and holy shit can that be hard to do. This book was a whirlwind. The maigc system was something I hadn’t necessarily seen before (and at times didn’t completely understand) but was still a ton of fun.
Characters: Joan was tough because she needed to be in the situation she was put in. John was tough becuase of what he had been through. Their pathways to the underground magic den were slightly different (recruited by very different people to say the least) but watching their journey was fascinating. It’s rare to see two character arcs cross paths and end up on opposite sides of where they started in a way but this book made it happen. The growth was so subtle too, that it didn’t strike me how much had changed until the last few pages.
Plot: There are the two major plotlines. Joan is working for the mob, and John is undercover with the FBI as their mole. They both have very different goals but need magic to achieve them. Everything taking place durin prohibition was incredibly interested as it replaced alcohol with magic. Some of the twists and turns were completely unexepcted.
Writing Style: The writing style was very clear while also making it a book very much of it’s time. I never once wondered about the setting becuase of the way this book was written. The descriptions of the magic and what was possible really did feel fantastical in a way that I’m not always used to magic systems seeming.
What to pair it with: Old Fashioned. This needs a drink that you could see yourself ordering in a speakeasy. There’s something about a dark liquor with a bit of something sweet and fruity that seems like a really solid idea.
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
COMMENT DOWN BELOW: Let me know if you have any opinions!