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Rag and Bone #0.5

A Queer Trade

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Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead, and his papers sold. Papers with secrets that could spell death. Crispin needs to get them back before anyone finds out what he's been doing, or what his magic can do.

Crispin tracks his quarry down to waste paper dealer Ned Hall. He needs help, and Ned can’t resist Crispin’s pleading—and appealing—looks. But can the waste-man and the magician prevent a disaster and save Crispin’s skin?

A 16,000 word story set in the Charm of Magpies world, and a prequel to the novel Rag and Bone (March 2016). This story was first published as part of the Charmed & Dangerous anthology.

Cover design by Catherine Dair.

59 pages, ebook

First published February 2, 2016

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About the author

K.J. Charles

58 books8,108 followers
KJ is a writer of romance, mostly m/m, historical or fantasy or both. She blogs about writing and editing at http://kjcharleswriter.com.

She lives in London, UK, with her husband, two kids, and a cat of absolute night.

Twitter https://twitter.com/kj_charles
Join the lively Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/13876...
Sign up to the (infrequent) newsletter at http://kjcharleswriter.com/newsletter

Please **do not** message me on Goodreads as I no longer check the inbox due to unwanted messages.

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5 stars
656 (32%)
4 stars
900 (44%)
3 stars
449 (21%)
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34 (1%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 249 reviews
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,859 reviews5,634 followers
June 16, 2020
I loooove the world of The Magpie Lord, so I was SO excited to see that there was a new set of books coming out that was set in that universe.

I actually had originally started with Rag and Bone but I was pretty lost with who the characters were and so I decided to backtrack and read this novella first. I'm REALLY glad that I did. This is an excellent introduction of Crispin and Ned, and it gives us all of the relevant background information that we need for the next story.

No steam here but REALLY well done, I think it's a necessary read for those who want to explore this new series.
Profile Image for * A Reader Obsessed *.
2,133 reviews432 followers
November 10, 2021
4 Stars

Was there any doubt this novella, set in Charles’s Magpie world, would garner any less than 4 stars?

I love this gritty historical, dark and gloomy magical world and this time around, the reader catches a glimpse of what being a warlock is all about and why our intrepid justiciars Stephan and BFF Esther, go to great lengths at monitoring, capturing, and possibly hobbling those that use what we call black magic.

Crispin has been the apprentice of a warlock who seemingly has presented himself as a benign “researcher”. When his mentor dies suddenly, Crispin finds that his master’s piles of paper detritus (aka experimental magical spells) have been sold for recycling and he must find them quickly before possible mayhem ensues. Crispin enlists the aid of Ned who bought the paper “waste”, hoping against hope that they’re not too late.

Whoops. They’re too late.

An intriguing, tense, and fast paced appetizer where extreme situations lend a spark to the attraction brewing between Crispin and Ned. A very nice introduction to their fully fleshed out novel Rag and Bone, a book that I certainly look forward to reading!
Profile Image for Nancy.
557 reviews768 followers
February 3, 2017
Cross-posted at Shelf Inflicted and at Outlaw Reviews

Loved this charming, magical, sexy, and suspenseful story by a new to me author. Apprentice warlock Crispin Tredarloe’s master, Hepzibah Marleigh, was hit by a bus. He left Crispin his books and documents, but the real important papers left on the floor were cleaned up and sold by the Burfords to waste-man Ned Hall who in turn will sell the paper to butchers, florists, or anyone that can use it. No one but Crispin knows what the magical words and symbols on the paper are capable of. Once a sheaf of the paper gets into the hands of the untrained citizenry, strange things start to happen. Crispin and Ned must work together to retrieve the papers and stop the illegal magic before Crispin gets in trouble. Though the two men are as different as night and day, their interactions sparkled and chemistry sizzled, leading me to believe they will indeed be magnificent together. I look forward to reading the series!
Profile Image for Ingie.
1,343 reviews169 followers
February 2, 2016
Review written February 2, 2016

3.7 Stars - Yay, it's here, a first in a new KJC series. As always superbly delightful M/M romance reading ...but short

Book #0.5

A Queer Trade Is the short prequel novella to K.J. Charles's new "Rag & Bone" series (#1-Rag and Bone is planned to be publ. in March 2016). A new book and series in the The World of A Charm of Magpies. — A marvelous great book-world to visit every single time. Higly recommended always.


The magician Crispin Tredarloe, with a “willowy frame and light voice” (makes me smile), returns from a visit to his parents in Cornwall to London. His master (like in teacher) is dead and a big bunch of important mystical spell papers has mistakenly been sold. Crispin tracks those lost papers to a 'waste paper dealer' (never heard of before), Ned 'Neddy' Hall. A dark skinned stranger living behind the 'Rag & Bottle Shop' in St. Giles a more poor and scrubby part of town.
‘He had a West End life in his odd, specialised way. He’d only seen men of colour as itinerant street-sellers, never actually spoken to a black man before, certainly never touched one.
Hall’s hand had felt… well, Crispin was sure he should assert that it felt the same as any other man’s hand, but..’

 photo image_zpsanjzmvoi.jpeg

‘Crispin might be scared and guilty, and a warlock, whatever that was, but his tongue was in Ned’s mouth like that was the only thing that mattered..’

Aaaa!! K.J. Charles is the best
This prequel novella had it all: sweetness, excitement and lovely characters. It was just way too short. (Sigh!!)

Last there were some promising sentences:
“Warning: Contains a warlock who needs to go straight (but isn’t), a waste-man running out of patience, blood magic, bad-tempered justiciars, and a pen with a mind of its own.”
Tempting words that makes me groan and eagerly yearn for the next part (Rag and Bone in just one month). I'm sure it will be a good, exciting, mysterious and yummy hot (longer) read ... as always when Ms Charles has delivered. And even better, I will buddyread it with lovely Sofia. What a threat.


I LIKE - to once again visit ‘The World of A Charm of Magpies’
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 58 books8,108 followers
December 16, 2015
The first story to feature Ned Hall, waste-man, and Crispin Tredarloe, accidental warlock. I really enjoyed writing this one, so much that the characters have got their own full novel coming (Rag and Bone, in March 2016). The Rag and Bone stories are set in the Charm of Magpies world, off at a tangent to the action of those books. Ned's profession was, incidentally, a real one, and I hugely enjoyed putting together a forgotten trade, Victorian recycling, and some magical mayhem.

This was first published in the Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy anthology; this is a standalone edition of the same story.

Profile Image for  ~Preeti~.
671 reviews
October 27, 2021
Wow!!!! You can always trust KJ Charles to write an unlikely pair and a unique MC. This novella(60 pages) is the first in the Rag and bone series. As the author says, the story was originally written for this novella but later the main book Rag and Bone was added to make it a series.

Again this is very much part of The world of Charm of Magpie series and has an interlinked storyline but the concept of blood magic/scripti in warlocks is explained the first time in detail in this novella.

Now, let's talk about the MC, Ned Hall, a waste-man as he likes to be called, is a POC, a waste paper collector and seller. He loves his work and is unapologetic about his love for his chosen profession or men. He knows his physical rugged look has an appeal but again he is not ready to compromise what he thinks is right. And, then we have Crispin, an accidental warlock who is vulnerable, scared and hungry for magic because he physically looks soft and is taunted throughout his childhood for it. 

I think if the book didn't have a dual POV, I would have disliked either Ned or Crispin but these kinds of MCs are unique to KJ Charles. And, I am so excited to read more of this couple in the next full-length book, Rag and Bone.
Profile Image for ᴥ Irena ᴥ.
1,649 reviews214 followers
February 18, 2017

First, I love the world of A Charm of Magpies series so I am not that certain it doesn't play a role here. Maybe I wouldn't love this if I didn't read A Charm of Magpies stories.

You do get the exceptional writing (no surprise there) and occasional black humour remark here though. But because I know a lot about the world and because I didn't need too many explanations, I am not sure if the story would be as great. For example, 'a small man darted forward out of the crowd, arm up, finger pointed' had more meaning for me than for someone who hasn't read the series yet. Anyone would recognize who that is from that sentence only! It was like I was reading between the lines.

My point it, Rag and Bone series promises great things. I don't know how A Queer Trade would stand on its own. I loved it but take this with a grain of salt. I may be biased.
Profile Image for Skye Kilaen.
Author 15 books304 followers
June 8, 2020
A Queer Trade is the meet-cute-with-magic short story about Ned Hall, a Black Londoner who collects and sells waste paper, and Crispin Tredarloe, an apprentice magician. Crispin's mentor dies and his papers are accidentally sold to Ned, leading to some bizarre magical events as the papers circulate in the city. Rag and Bone, the follow-up novel, picks up a bit later, Ned and Crispin having been dating for some time while Crispin is studying under the magical authorities.

I was gripped by the drama of Lucien and Stephen, then heartbroken over the struggles of Jonah and Ben, but it's quite possible that Ned and Crispin might be my favorite couple in Charles's Magpie-verse. They are really struggling for the first half of Rag and Bone, each insecure in a different way about what Crispin's powers mean compared to Ned's practical, working-class life. When Ned's neighbor is magically murdered, it's a blow right on the fracture line of their relationship, but Crispin tries SO hard to fix his mistakes even though he feels undeserving of Ned's love. He just adores Ned, and I want to wrap him in a blanket and give him a cookie. Ned is intensely practical, very clear-eyed, and his character voice is stunning in its stripped-down wisdom and emotion.

This is a spinoff from the Charm of Magpies series, which includes some glimpses of what's happening in Jackdaw, but you could read it as a standalone if you wanted. The cameos would mean more if you'd read them, but no big deal if you didn't.
Profile Image for Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*.
2,429 reviews1,060 followers
February 13, 2017
A short prequel introducing the Rag and Bones next full length book.

It's an okay story set in the times of Stephen Day in historical time period where a magic council exists to keep order and peace...somewhat. Crispin finds himself in a bind when his magical master has died and his magical papers have been carried off. He finds himself at the shop of Ned, who is a business owner that deals with waste paper and the like, a "queer trade". Together they track down some of the sold papers and prevent worse mayhem than walking corpses, fish returning to life, and the like. Ultimately they find each other in the chaos.

It's a good introduction to the series. Both characters are likable, different off plays from each other. It was also in the controversy of mixed race relationship, with was another taboo back then. There is instant attraction but it's realistic and not harlequin-lightning. K.J. Charles always writes with a talented hand.

I do have a small complaint their relationship felt a little rushed for my liking, especially since it's the first time they've met. Since she introduced them in a short, though, there's not many other directions the story could have gone to have them come across convincing.

I love the magical world Charles created in previous series, so I'm glad to see it continue with new characters and fresh blood. Each time there are not only new magic users, but new ways that magic is used. The finger bone thing sounds painful, but the pen with the magician's blood is wickedly intriguing. Looking forward to more of the story with these two.
Profile Image for Erika .
415 reviews129 followers
June 25, 2016
3.5 stars

This was a nice little amuse bouche before the main course. I'm so happy to read about a well written black protagonist in my favorite K.J. Charles series and can't wait to read the full story. Exciting!
Profile Image for Ami.
5,809 reviews499 followers
December 23, 2015
Read it first as part of Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Anthology. Review copied from my review of the anthology as well. Might revisit when the story is released independently as I plan to also buy it before reading the follow-up novel

Oh, this is delightful! I think I had more fun reading short story in comparison to the last story of Charles that I read.

Crispin is a practitioner who is on a mission to look for magical papers of his departed Master, only to found those papers have been sold by his inheritors. This brought Crispin to Ned Hall, a waste-man (who buys waste papers and sell them for other purposes). It feels like an 'finding an item" kind of adventure. There is time limitation in which Crispin and Ned need to find those papers before the magical words on the papers are making havoc. And making havoc they do!! I was very much amused when I read about the rising deads *lol*.

In addition to the quick partnership, the 'fun' at the market, some actions and magic, Charles also wrote Ned Hall as a black man, with a occupation uncommon in a romance story. I found those aspects to be wonderful indeed :). Oh, and I LOVED Ned's endearment for Crispin.

PS: The story is set in Charles' Magpies universe, and we have Esther Gold (Stephan's justiciar partner and friend) makes an appearance. However, you don't need to read those novels beforehand to enjoy this.
Profile Image for Tess.
1,872 reviews26 followers
February 3, 2016
4 stars

Intriguing start to a new series with very unique characters in very unusual professions (waste man and warlock?!). Definitely whets my appetite for Rag and Bone!
Profile Image for Chelsea.
871 reviews7 followers
March 20, 2017
That was a great introduction to these characters and their budding romance. I haven't read Rag and Bone yet and I'm glad I read this one first.

I really enjoyed this being about a warlock, someone the Justiciary hunts, it was interesting seeing the other side of practitioners, even though Crispin is far from evil.

Looking forward to seeing Ned and Crispin together in the next book.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,651 reviews1,689 followers
May 28, 2022
KJ Charles finds the most unusual but interesting historical things to write about. Waste paper men! Butchers wrapping cuts of meat in people's old love letters. Kind of wild.
Profile Image for Wollstonecrafthomegirl.
472 reviews203 followers
August 6, 2017
“Marleigh was dead: to begin with.
Hepzibah Marleigh, gentleman of the parish of St. Alban the Martyr. Bent-backed, blue eyes bright in a face like crumpled parchment, teeth as brown as the meerschaum pip they always clamped.”

Come on KJC, how do you do that?! Thirty-seven opening words of absolute perfection and I was hooked. She has so much talent it’s just not fair. She should break it up and hand pieces out, like that scene in Mean Girls.

This is such a fantastic little novella. Magic conspires to bring together one of romance’s most unlikely couples. Ned, the paper scrounging and selling working class Londoner. Big and beefy and gay. And Crispin, well-to-do, somewhat feminine, hapless magician, also gay. Ned has bought some paper, and it turns out to be ridden with awful spells cast by Crispin’s former teacher. Together, they embark on a journey to find it all and figure out what is happening and how to stop it. And, of course, Ned proves to be just what (or who) Crispin needs and vice versa.

I am grading on a KJC curve. The story here was fantastic. The writing is some of her best. I think I wanted the romance to be a bit more explosive. A bit more Crane and Day, if you will. So, I cannot quite give this five stars, but it’s a cracking, cracking read.
Profile Image for ☾ Dαɴιyα ☽.
447 reviews73 followers
February 4, 2016

Any day I get my greedy little hands on a KJ Charles book is a good day. Especially if that book is set in the magical A Charm of Magpies world where a few characters very dear to me live. I didn't find them here, but that's okay because I enjoyed reading about Crispin and Ned, and the story was not only interesting, but it also reminded me the magical world of A Charm of Magpies can be a scary place.

Crispin, in search for his dead master's magical, and potentially dangerous papers, found himself in Ned Hall's shop. Ned was the waste-man who had bought those papers, and the only one who could help him find them. Looking for those blood spells wasn't all Ned and Crispin were doing; they were looking at each other and finding that they liked what they were seeing, which I always enjoy reading about.

Just when I was thinking their search mission would finish uneventfully, dead beings started walking around, a pen was a terrifying object, and Crispin learned some important truths. I'd forgotten how scary and complicated things could get in this world.

I can't wait to read what happens with the two of them next!
Profile Image for Ele.
1,274 reviews40 followers
March 9, 2016
“O, it's a queer trade, but there's many worse.”
London Labour and the London Poor

I'm undeniably biased; I love studying this part of London's history, my master's thesis was about life and labour in the streets of London, based on Henry Mayhiew's journals, and I 've read the thing a bazillion times.

So, yes, I'm definately biased. But Charles has undoubtedly done a terrific job introducing us to the new series, Rag and Bone, set in the Charm of Magpies world.

Considering that this is just 50 pages long, the characters are amazingly well-sketched, and the balance between romance and action/magic, is perfect.

So, this is a very intriguing start; a warlock, a black waste paper dealer, and lost magic papers! And freckles! Lots of freckles! I'm looking forward to reading more stories with Ned and Crispin, and exploring defferent parts of this world.

Profile Image for Alisa.
1,777 reviews174 followers
February 28, 2016
This was a very enjoyable short story that introduces us to Ned and Crispin, a new couple in the Magpie world. This shows us how they meet and end up a couple. There's a really good paranormal story as the back drop. This author always packs so much into her stories. You all should read this and definitely read it before book one in this series.
Profile Image for Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight).
885 reviews123 followers
November 8, 2020
4 Stars

This was cute! A short story (or maybe novelette) that's part of the A Charm of Magpies world, but I could see it working as a standalone if you just wanted to read this. As part of the series, it functions as a prequel to Rag and Bone, introduces you to two new characters, and shows how their relationship starts. I liked these new characters---Crispin, a magic practitioner tired of people's assumptions about him being weak and meek, and Ned, a paper waste-man hardened a bit by prejudice against him but still jovial and sweet. They dove into a relationship rather fast, but I wasn't too bothered. It was cool seeing a different kind of magic in this one, since Crispin was technically a warlock using blood magic, and the chaos the magic caused was fun. It's frustrating though that this isn't included with Rag and Bone or available as an audiobook since it's maybe not 100% necessary but does give the character and relationship backstory, which is important. Anyway, I recommend reading it before Rag and Bone if you can. I enjoyed this fun little story!

*Rating: 4 Stars // Read Date: 2020 // Format: Audiobook*

Original Review @ Metaphors and Moonlight
Profile Image for Andrea.
902 reviews131 followers
October 23, 2017
This was fun! I was hooked from the first sentence ("Marleigh was dead: to begin with"; really, how could I resist that :D) and it just got better from there.
This new series is set in the Magpie series, and so far I'd say it makes sense on its own, but it's more fun if you know the other books, too IMO. This short novella introduces us to the main characters from Rag and Bone and takes place 7 months before it. We meet accidental warlock Crispin Treadarloe as he tries to clean up a mess his dead master warlock accidentally created crossing paths with waste man Ned Hall (which, apparently, was a real job that entailed buying old paper and selling it on to, for example, wrap food in; I love that I now know this :D) who bought some paper's that should never fall into human hands...
I liked this story. It introduced both characters and serves as a nice set-up for their future relationship. I only wish they didn't have this instant lust that had them unable to keep their hands of each other quite this soon.
On the next one!
Profile Image for Maya.
282 reviews69 followers
March 2, 2016

“Because you need someone to help you, and I don’t see anyone else lining up. Because those freckles are killing me.”

That was wonderful and creepy. Loved it!
On to Rag and Bone.
Profile Image for Dawn F.
495 reviews67 followers
July 21, 2019
Aaaah what a nice warm-up, can’t wait to read Rag and Bone now!
Profile Image for Gerbera_Reads.
1,418 reviews131 followers
April 27, 2020
Set in the world of The Magpie Lord series, this was a delightful little snippet that introduced another pair of characters that have great potential for love and magic. I liked both Ned and Crispin, each man was unique in his own way. From the series I remember the hatred to all things warlock, and this book showed the trade at work and exactly why the warlocks are feared and hated. Crispin is such a darling. I loved how he was with Ned. They were so sweet together when they were not running around averting one catastrophe after another. I loved the magic, the danger and the promise of more between two men who have only just met but already feel connected. Good story.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 249 reviews

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