Inside cover blurb:
“In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.
Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.
But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.”
This book is all about power- who has it, who doesn’t, who’s trying to get it, etc.
It’s all very Mission Impossible with multiple heists and close calls. Maxwell also weaves in historical elements seamlessly, including opium dens, banking barons, and European immigration.
I liked that the story is told from the perspective of multiple characters because you start to feel like you have insider information. But then Maxwell turns it all on its head and you realize you had no idea after all!
Things started to go sideways for me when it came time to explain both the time travel elements of the story and the complicated magical mechanics of the Brink- the force that keeps all magical folks from leaving the city.
But I will say that all that time travel double-crossing is juicy! So much drama.
I would have loved to hear more about the Order and all the mystical relics they possess. But since the ending makes it pretty clear there will be a sequel…I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Plus: Secret societies, romance, old-school New York street gangs, dastardly schemes, ancient magic…there’s something for everyone!
Minus: Clocking in at over 500 pages, I do think the story dragged on for a little too long.
If you like this book, try:
A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly- Set during Prohibition, only it’s magic that’s been outlawed this time. Read this if you’re craving more about crime bosses, dangerous secrets, and illicit sorcery.