TITLE: A Criminal Magic
AUTHOR: Lee Kelly
PUBLISHER: Simon and Schuster
PUBLISHING DATE: February 6, 2016
FROM GOODREADS:THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly's new magical realism, crossover novel.
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.
MY THOUGHTS: This is magic for grownups. I love the world Kelly created an her writing style made it easy to imagine actually being a part of this glamorous underworld. This book has it all, action, great characters, an interesting and unique magical system and a near-perfect ending.
The story is told from duel perspectives of Joan, who travels to DC in hopes of becoming part of an elite, yet still illegal, magical troupe and Alex, a law enforcement agent who has his own personal grudge to bear with the criminal underworld and all its lackeys. Both Joan and Alex walk a very thin rope between making morally sound decisions and getting caught up in the magical world which encompasses them. Kelly did a wonderful job of showing how Joan, a tremendously likable character, walks a fine line between doing the right thing and becoming engulfed in a highly glamorous and profitable world of magic. It is also especially interesting that in this life, magic can be used to produce a highly addictive after-product called "Shine" which takes over one's mind and produces a high unrivaled by anything else on the street.
I can't recommend enough that you pick up this book and become lost in its world. I believe it is a stand-alone novel, and that ending! I totally felt it could have ended one way and I would have been so pleased with the outcome, but then Kelly throws in so many twists in the last 50 or so pages of the book that I actually am happy to say she didn't take the expected way out. Preorder a copy now because even though I was provided a free galley from Booksparks and the publisher in exchange for an honest review, I HAVE to have my own copy sitting on my shelves! I am also grabbing a copy of her first book, City of Savages, the first chance I get.
RATING: 5 PAWS
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Kelly has wanted to write since she was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until she began studying for the California Bar Exam that she conveniently started putting pen to paper.