The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Publication Date: July 18th 2017
Source: ARC from Simon & Schuster
Link to the author: http://www.lisa-maxwell.com/
RATING: 4 Stars
“Not that he was fooled into thinking she was harmless-even kittens had claws, after all. And he’d had enough experience with this one to know hers were sharper than most”
The Last Magician came as a really big surprise this year, I hadn’t even heard of it until Simon & Schuster offered it to me for review. I was also pretty skeptical when I read the words, ‘gangs’, ‘time travel’ and ‘magic’ in the synopsis. That’s a lot to pull off in one book! Then when I began reading I realized there are multiple points of view, another difficult feat! I’m happy to report to you that Lisa Maxwell did it, she brought all those elements together so well, I really liked the characters and even though this is a stand alone I would definitely pick up a sequel.
Right away the main character, Esta was giving me Lila Bard vibes, and the dark gritty atmosphere combined with the gangs was reminding me of Six of Crows. Now, if you read this book and say “Hey this was nothing like either of those books!” No, it isn’t, and that’s a good thing. However, if you like strong, independent, snarky women like Lila Bard I think you’ll love Esta and if you enjoyed the atmosphere and never knowing who can be trusted, like Six of Crows, I think you’ll enjoy reading The Last Magician.
I loved Esta. I wanted to give you my favorite quote from her but my son pulled out half of my page flags and do you think I can find it now? Sadly not. She was independent and stubborn but she had moments of self-doubt as well and that made her likable as well as realistic and relateable. The romance between her and another character was far from the spot light and they dance around one another for most of the story. I liked it, and the few ‘intense’ scenes were swoony in my opinion. It also didn’t feel like it lacked romance because both characters had goals that directly opposed the relationship. It was kind of nice to see a female lead who decided that her feelings had to be second to her ambition.
Viola was another great character, and while I wish there was more of her what I did get I loved. She was straight to the point, cunning and sharp. Literally! Esta and Viola clashed a lot but that just made me like them more.
There wasn’t a lot of time jumping throughout the story, Esta is in New York 1901 for the majority of the book but I loved it. I cannot testify to the authenticity of the era it but I felt like I was accurately transported back in time. I found that the author did a great job of making the past come alive and Esta’s reactions to it believeable.
The magic system was probably the weakest point for me, that and a few parts of the story that I found to be a bit slow. There simply wasn’t a lot of explanation as to how or why things worked the way they did. I never really understood the different kinds of magic other than I think some was learned while others were born with it? Everything about the Brink felt really vague as well. I understood the basics, you can’t cross it without losing your powers and losing them makes you crazy at best, dead at worst. (Don’t worry no spoilers here this is in one of the very first chapters) The origin and the way it works was never very clear though, and I like to know the how and why of things in books. I will say that Esta’s magic was amazing, I loved the way it was used and described and the author did a really great job with that. Everyone else’s abilities were again vague or under utilized.
As for the slow parts, there were some but I am the kind of reader who doesn’t mind a few slower parts if the author already has me hooked. If in the first few chapters I have all kinds of questions I’m dying to know the answers to, then that usually keeps me going. If you like back to back action then you might struggle to get through parts of the book.
Lastly, I want to touch on the ending because I didn’t see it coming AT ALL. That earns top marks from me because nothing is worse than predictability. There are a few smaller twists along the way but they were understated and nothing like the big reveal. I live, or should I say read, for that moment when the author drops the truth bomb and your mouth falls open and you have to put the book down for a second while you mentally go back and connect all the dots you missed. That was pretty much me in the final chapters. The end is left sort of open, and that’s why I thought there was going to be a sequel, but it also stands on its own quite well.
Conclusion: I gave The Last Magician 4 out of 5 stars
Thank you for reading this review of The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell curtsy of Simon & Schuster Canada, in return for my honest opinion. I hope you enjoyed my insights and look forward to more reviews from me in the future.