Review of The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Updated: Aug 3, 2020
A smart master thief bends time and finds her loyalties divided in turn-of-the-century New York.
I appreciated the character of Esta as a smart master thief who can bend time, and I loved the 1901 New York setting, Dolph Saunders as a kindly magical mobster, Viola as a lesbian tough girl (with a heart of gold!) who's a genius with knives, and Harte Darrigan as a stage (and actual) magician whose loyalties are difficult to pin down.
Add in the Brink as a method of controlling those with magic, the Book and its unclear powers, and the discriminatory, powerful, and dangerous Order and there's a steady, sinister underlying feel to the story.
I don't think it benefited me to listen to The Last Magician, the first in Maxwell's series, as an audiobook, what with the jumps through time; varied points of view; layered disloyalties, misdirections, and motivations; and the extensive double-crossing. It was a little tough to keep track of all of these elements. Candace Thaxton's frequently unexpected speech emphasis pulled me out of the story somewhat as well.
Some of the twists at the end felt implausible (not recognizing the Professor for who he really was, without any magical manipulation of his looks or other explanation? Truly?), but others wrapped up frustrating revelations-come-too-late (the identification of her parents; the potential for a future with Harte; and the reestablished loyalty of Jianyu) in satisfying ways.
What did you think?
The second and third books in this series are published; I seem to often start series and have to wait impatiently for the next installment. Have you read any of these books?