Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1) by Jennifer Estep
Expected Publication: April 28th, 2015 by K-Teen
*I received an eARC of this novel from the publisher and NetGalley. This in no way affected my opinion.
It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.
But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .
I'm glad to know that I can always count on Jennifer Estep for some seriously fun paranormal novels. I really enjoyed the Mythos Academy series and was so excited to see she had another YA series coming out. Cold Burn of Magic definitely did not disappoint.
Lila Merriweather is an orphaned thief living in the basement of a library in Cloudburst Falls, a tourist attraction for those who like little tricks and illusions and to believe in magic. Of course, the magic in Cloudburst is all too real. And so are the monsters that come with it. A book like this doesn't need elaborate world-building the way that something like Throne of Glass does, but Estep certainly makes use of what she has. I loved Cloudburst Falls and could easily imagine it. Somehow, Estep made a town full of trolls and pixies and magic seem incredibly realistic. And, of course, it's a town run by feuding magical mob families. MAGICAL MOB FAMILIES, YOU GUYS. It's such a cool concept that's executed very well.
Lila is selfish, stubborn, good with a sword, and filled with both sadness and rage from the death of her mother. She's very rational but willing to take risks when it's necessary, and she has fun doing it. She's clever. She's funny and very easy for me to connect with, which made reading from her perspective really fun. You can't help but sympathize with her. She just wants to be left alone, but instead she's forced to guard a boy she hardly knows, live in a house full of strangers, stay silent in front of her mother's murderer. She's angry. She's bitter. She's practically been sold and blackmailed into doing the same thing that got her mother killed. But slowly, gradually, she comes to accept that it's who she is - a protector. A good one. One who could actually have friends. Lila starts to open up to people again, and it's kind of heartwarming, to be honest - and she still retains her stubbornness, her strength, her snark.
"And look where it's gotten me. Smack dab in the middle of a gilded cage, one with spikes around the edges, all pointed in at me."
And let me say, this book definitely threw me for a few loops. There's the overall mystery of the novel, of course, which had a shocking conclusion, but there are other, smaller things along the way that definitely surprised me. I can't say anything without spoiling all of it, but rest assured, this novel will keep you on your toes.
Cold Burn of Magic has a cast of varied characters. Devon, of course, the son of the head of one of the most powerful families. His guard and friend, Felix, his mother, Claudia. Mo, the man who's been trying to look after Lila since her mother's death. And my personal favorite, the pixie Oscar, tasked with essentially being Lila's maid. Then, of course, there's the Draconis, the mob family to rival the Sinclairs. And I loved them all. I know I've already talked a little about the mob aspect, but it is SO COOL. It's unique and fresh, and I can't wait to see the conflict heat up in the next book. (You know what else is fresh? No love triangle. Thank you, Jennifer Estep.)
"Kind of sucks, doesn't it? When someone has you by the throat like that? When they can take away someone you love just by saying a few words to the wrong person?"
I think the only things I didn't particularly like were that Cold Burn of Magic suffers from a bit of Special Snowflake Syndrome and some info dumping, particularly in the beginning of the novel. In Cloudburst Falls, plenty of people have Talents. Some can see very well, or hear better than anyone, or move across the room in a blink. Lila, of course, has several Talents, and one of them is incredibly rare. Estep makes this work better than a lot of authors do, though. It's important to the story but not the most important thing on the planet.
Overall: Though so far I prefer the Mythos Academy series, Cold Burn of Magic is full of action, mystery, and magic. It's got a very unique concept and a clever heroine I absolutely loved, a developing romance I can't wait to see more of, and a fast-paced plot full of monsters and plenty of surprises for me. 4 stars.
"By the time I'm done with you, those will feel like paper cuts."
My Song of Choice
About Jennifer Estep
Jennifer Estep is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.