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Beggar Magic

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  149 ratings  ·  64 reviews
In Gelia City, magic is music: a constant ever-changing melody known as the Strains. Hereditary ability to use the Strains divides the city into two classes: the wealthy Highmost, who can access the full potential of the Strains, and the Common tradesmen, who are limited to mundane spells, known as beggar magic.

With the help of the Strains, Common teen Leilani rescues and
Kindle Edition, 197 pages
Published December 9th 2014 by KDP (first published September 27th 2014)
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4.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  149 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Deborah O'Carroll
Ten Thoughts on Beggar Magic:

1. Another fun yet genre-defying read! (Apparently I really love those. XD) It started out like a mild Steampunk story with elements of very original fantasy, and then turned into a sort of academy-story, which turned into a murder mystery, and all with a strong thread of friendship and a dash of romance. Basically it was great. :D

2.The world was super interesting! It’s a psuedo-19th-century kind of feel, with a Steampunk flavor, but some other parts of it seem kind
Janeen Ippolito
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I downloaded Beggar Magic on a whim when it was offered for free, having no idea what a treat I was in for. This is a beautifully-written fairy tale in the style of Ella Enchanted and Princess Academy, with a likable, tenacious heroine and an intriguing kind of magic, seamlessly blended together for a satisfying read.

First off, the Strains. They are written with a mystery and deftness that makes the reader feel them as much as the characters do. Furthermore, Burke threads in subtle hints of thei
Book Troll Real Escape
Beggar Magic is one of the most refreshing pieces of fiction that I have read in a while. The book follows Leilani Weaver on her journey to living her dreams and becoming something that is beyond her “Common” status. Leilani’s life changes for the better, and for the worst, when she meets Zebedy, a “Highmost” girl who is so special that she can actually hear every word the “Strains”—the magical begins that help the people in Gelia—say. When they meet, you think that they are just two girls from ...more
Abby Jones
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're a reader, you probably know when you're reading an Indy book as opposed to a traditionally published book. There's often just something missing, or maybe we're automatically more suspect due to a large amount of badly written stuff out there. Well, I'm here to tell you that Beggar Magic is not one of those books. It's a well crafted, well written, sweet fairy tale. Burke does a great job with her fairy tales and I look forward to reading more of her stories. This one is great due to th ...more
Tina at Mommynificent
This is a great book! I found the setting fascinating, the characters mesmerizing, and the plot surprising. I finished it this morning, told my 10-year old about it, and she had finished it before bed and is already asking me to write the author to see if there will be a sequel! It is a clean young adult book with very, very light romance. I'm pretty picky about what I recommend my daughter read when it comes to romance but had no problems with this one.

There are a number of themes woven really
Lauren Lynch
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this unique read. Feisty heroine, Leilani, was a bit of an underdog (by station of birth) in this steampunk fantasy world -- but she wasn't about to let that hold her back. In a society that lacks equality, many of the "Highmost" use their gifts to jockey for power, while the "Common" are forced into subservient positions where they struggle to find significance. Suspense builds as Leilani and her friends explore a series of mysterious events no one else seems to notice at first ...more
Katharina Gerlach
The characters in this novel sprang of the first page, grabbed me by the hand and dragged me along for the ride. At first, they felt younger than they were meant to be but that changed as soon as they learned a bit more about their world. The prejudice against the lower castes could have been shown a bit more to drive the point home, but this was such a minor issue that it's not worth taking a point off of a thoroughly enjoyable read. I hope to be able to return to this world some time in the fu ...more
J.M. Butler
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: light fantasy lovers, fantasy lovers, music lovers, young adults
I keep intending to get Talk Story to Me up and running again. I've been reading so many great books, and there is so much to talk about! But thanks to the mighty Thor (my cat, not the Norse god of thunder), the tripod was destroyed. It was really quite impressive.

Ah, but you still have a camera, you might say. True. Or rather I did. However, Loki (another cat, not the Norse god of trickery) has confiscated it. I heard a strange clumping sound and looked up just in time to see Loki disappearing
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Unique and captivating fantasy

I have yet to read a book by H.L. Burke that hasn’t elbowed its way to the top of my to-be-read pile and held me spellbound as soon as I turned to the first page. Beggar Magic is no exception to this. It turns the typical fantasy formula on its head by featuring a main character who’s the friend and sidekick of the person with formidable magic powers, instead of the “Chosen One” herself. It has one of the most interesting magic systems I’ve read about in a long time
S. Naomi Scott
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Young Leilani Weaver loves the woods. She goes out there often to play among the trees as the Strains sing to her. She loves listening to them. They are a part of every day life in Gelia. Leilani couldn't imagine having to live without them. The Strains are kind of like magic. They can be used to help make bread and start fires, small things like that among the Common people like Leilani. Her mother taught her never to take them for granted and never use them for things you could easily do yours ...more
Dec 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, indie
This story started out a little slow, but it was so worth it to keep reading. The backbone of this story is friendship, and the two main characters forge together through all the odds against their sisterhood. Leilani is a very well written seventeen year old with a strong sense of self. She trusts her intuition and isn’t afraid to be herself even in the face of class discrimination. Zeb, on the other hand, is an incredibly sheltered girl with little life experience and a degree of naivety that ...more
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*I received this book for review from the author. This in no way affects my thoughts expressed below*

So I'm pretty sure y'all know by now what a big fan of H.L. Burke I am. If you don't, well it's safe to say you've probably been living under a rock. She has an amazing ability to write stories that pull you in and don't let go, that take you on a journey of imagination and magic and just all around awesomeness. So, yeah, I couldn't wait to dive into this new world from her.

In Gelia City, music
K.M. Carroll
I received a review copy of this book from the author, and I read the book with a jaded eye. Thus, I'm pleased to announce that it's a very pleasant read.

I'm unfamiliar with Burke's writing, but I'm thinking I need to grab a few more of her books. The writing is very good and immersive. Leilani is Common, Zebedy is Highborn, and they become friends despite the class divide. This was fun and refreshing, but the thing that most endeared this book to me was Brick, the deaf guard. His handicap is wr
Shelly Hammond
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first and only book I've read by this author and after reading it I'm wondering why. Why it's taken me so long to get around to picking up this book and reading it that is! It's terrific!

This story is so incredibly unique! In a world where the Strains are heard by all but a select few and used for things, heard and used differently depending on your birth standing, the author has created everything that didn't exist until the very first page of this book was opened and read. It's ref
Linda Hamonou
Dec 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had the chance to read this little marvel of a book as a beta reader.

The story is one of the most original I have read this year. It takes you to a world when magic can be heard, then depending on what you hear, you can do different things. In this world, everyone has a role predetermined by what they can hear, it's a genetic gift.
I loved the world building and the fact that magic is seen as an entity called "the string" more than as a tool. There is a clear hierarchy between the characters
C.L. Wells
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been an avid reader my entire life, and because of that, it makes it really hard to get into any old story. This is not any old story. It's unique, very well thought out, and wonderfully entertaining. For some reason, the strains make me think of the Eywa from Avatar, even though it's not depicted that way at all. So don't go thinking of trees just because I said that. It's more in the beauty and innocence aspect. Another thing is, I always love it when a character is strong enough to evoke ...more
Rachel John
Jun 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beggar Magic is a YA fantasy novel that I received for free in return for an honest review. The main character, Leilani, is a feisty common girl with big dreams. She befriends a highborn named Zebedy and gets pulled into her aristocratic, educated world. Together they must save the Strains, the musical magic that brings them together, but also separates them into classes. Zebedy can understand the Strains and use them more fully, while Leilani can only do Beggar Magic. There is some light romanc ...more
Carolynn Markey
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I loved both main characters and also the love interests!!! My favorite parts were just watching both girls interact and seeing the story grow.

I really really hope this is not the only novel set in this world. The magic system is so simple but so complex and so ingenious. I've really never seen anything like it.

Every chapter flows so neatly into the next. I couldn't put it down. I felt like I wanted to be best friends with both the girls.
Kerri Vandermeer
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
H.L Burke has one again written a clean and delightfully well written book with endearing characters and a fascinating magic system. Not only was it refreshing to have a story from a normal(by setting standards at least) character, there was the added delight of having a fully developed deaf character who never once felt like the token minority character. I also really enjoyed the friendship between the two leading characters, even if I did want to smack Zeb now and than. :)
Dec 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, first-reads
**I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.**

A great quick and easy read that caught and kept my attention throughout the whole story. I only found myself back reading a few times when the characters’ dialogues ran together, but overall I found the author’s writing style to be very pleasing.
Rashad Gibson
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The strains are super cool. I want them. It's just, can you imagine having singing macig? I love singing anyway, so this would be like the bestest excuse. My roomies coulnd't complain if I was washing dishes with he Strains.

Anyway good story too. I liked it lots, and I want to read more of this writer's stories.
Gábor László Hajba
First of all: I received this book through the Goodreads giveaways.

And I have to tell you I really liked this book. The new concept of divided magic-usage is quite interesting.

The book read itself easily and was interesting and has everything a YA book needs: romance, intrigue, mistery and a good constructed and written story.
This is a sweet, young-adult, fantasy novel. Well-written and really quite enjoyable. The ending, however, left me wanting. After such a lovely novel, things just sort of dropped off in the last couple of pages. Sad face.

For more, check out my blog at
Elise Edmonds
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this young adult fantasy novel with a touch of steampunk. The two main female characters are strong and drive the action forward, and they complement each other well. My favourite thing about this book is the inventive magic system. It's based on music & voices constantly in the air, called The Strains, which can be used and manipulated to perform various tasks, as well as acting as guides. Recommended.
Absolutely delightful! This is a short mystery in a magical steampunk world, so it basically combines three things I always want more of into one book- and I might've been annoyed by the short length in other circumstances, but I think it was actually just right in this case. (That doesn't mean I don't want a sequel, though!) I loved the characters- Zeb was a bit annoying sometimes, but that's all. And Leilani and Brick are adorable.
Oct 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a unique read with some very original world-building. I think fans of the Paper Magician Series will really enjoy this - society is divided into two groups, Common and Highmost, and the Highmost are then sorted into careers based on their talents, such as Research, Healing, Art, etc., and each department has its own mansion where people in that division live and work. Common people are tradesmen, things like weavers and tailors, and also serve in the Highmost houses. Everyone in the cit ...more
Heather Hayden
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I should give a brief disclaimer before I continue with this review… I do know HL Burke. However, she did not solicit this book review. I’m reviewing it because I enjoyed the book.

Beggar Magic takes place in and around Gelia City, where magic comes from the Strains–a constant melody that all but the Wordless can hear. Leilani, the main protagonist, is a Common teen, who can only manipulate the Strains for mundane spells (called beggar magic.) When she rescues Zebedy, a Highmost teen, they become
Angela Castillo
Dec 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read a lot of books, and I truly enjoy most things Steampunk. Though Beggar Magic is what I consider 'lightly Steampunk' it brings forth a very unique idea... a town where mysterious music, called 'The Strains,' can be heard by almost everyone constantly. This music is perceived in different ways by different people, and can even be used to manipulate objects and help in every day tasks.
To me, 'Beggar Magic' is refreshing in idea and writing style, very well written and put together. There wer
Mar 02, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
H.L. Burke creates a creative and interesting magical world in her novel, Beggar Magic. With a new twist to the 'magic and music' combination called the strains, the author throws in the power friendship in overcoming social class boundaries, and finding love. But ... with the good comes the bad and there is class snobbishness, manipulation, deceit, and a villain seeking revenge on not only the murderer of his elder brother but also against all of those having the capacity of utilizing the strai ...more
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Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, o
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