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The Conductors

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  127 ratings  ·  106 reviews
A compelling debut by a new voice in fantasy fiction, The Conductors features the magic and mystery of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files written with the sensibility and historical setting of Octavia Butler’s Kindred: Introducing Hetty Rhodes, a magic-user and former conductor on the Underground Railroad who now solves crimes in post–Civil War Philadelphia.

As a conductor on the
Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: March 2nd 2021 by John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books
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Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  127 ratings  ·  106 reviews

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Chelsea Humphrey
Oct 16, 2020 marked it as to-read
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
Aug 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2020
DNF at 30%

A big thank you to the publishers and Netgalley for providing me with an uncorrected proof of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like this book. I can’t say I hated it because there might be a slight hope for this book. I just hope that it gets polished a bit before the release date.

Reasons why I didn’t like this book:

The magic system. When you start reading it, it becomes clear that only POC can access magic and because of that they were punished and e
The Artisan Geek
Nov 29, 2019 marked it as to-read
So intrigues by the premise! A black murder mystery set after the civil war, about former conductors of the underground railroad, featuring black elites AND it's fantasy?! Wild. Going to have to read this one!

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charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)


Rep: Black cast, gay characters, trans side character

CWs: period typical racism, descriptions of slavery, murder, gore
Rosava Doshchyk
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

It was a quite good debut. 3.7 stars from me.

The novel is designed as a town mystery in historical settings with some fantasy elements. Married couple Hetty and Benjy are solving a crime of their friend’s murder. It’s post Civil War times and police wouldn’t be very interested in the Black people cases so they took responsibility for helping their community with major and lesser problems. The strange death of the respected tho
Sheena ☆ Oh, the Sheenanigans!

‘The Conductors’ is a truly compelling debut that did at first have a rough start but page by page, I become engrossed in Hetty and Benjy, infamous duo that now solves crimes in post-Civil War Philadelphia, journey in discovering who were committing the horrific murders while they dealt with the bubbling feelings and well guarded secrets neither one expected during the course of their marriage of convenience.

It was a perfect blend of an historical novel with fantasy and mystery e
This is such a fun historical fantasy adventure, with a fantastically real-feeling cast of characters full of rich personal histories, a beautiful magical system, and a husband-and-wife crime-solving team that is only too horrified to realize they're actually falling in love (several years after their very practical marriage)! I hope there are lots more books to come in this series.
Sep 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, historical, arc
3.5 stars

Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

This was a great historical fantasy book that I really enjoyed reading. I loved the magic system; I love how the author integrated both sorcery and celestial-based magic. It felt very fresh and original, and not something I’ve read about before. This book is a captivating blend of genres; traditional fantasy elements mixed with a murder mystery, all in a historical setting. The premise was certainly fasc
Seema Rao
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
So enjoyable and engrossing. This is the type of “historical” mystery I love; one that reimagines reality and history. Plus it plays with conceptions of race. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

Thanks to NetGalley for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
Jul 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Genre blending is much like fusion cuisine, you have to really do it well and even then it won’t be to everyone’s liking, depending on ingredients. This book’s author decided to take a mystery set in the post emancipation, post war US and infuse it with magic. Specifically, fantasy style magic of spells and such. And I am quantifying this because I love all things related to the other kind of magic…the prestidigitation kind. But when it comes to magic with spells and magic wands, no thank you. I ...more
Oct 07, 2020 rated it liked it
When I requested the arc for this book, I didn't really know what it's about, only that it was murder mystery combined with magic.

At first, it was kind of slow and I didn't really know what was going on. I was confused about where the story was going and I couldn't follow all the names that were mentioned, who was friends with who, who was good, who wasn't. Plus, I had trouble connecting with the main characters, Hetty and Benjy.

BUT THEN things suddenly changed. The story picked up, the charac
Jun 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Thank you Netgalley for this uncorrected proof arc in exchange for an honest review.

The Conductors is a historical fiction, meets fantasy, meets murder mystery mash up with interesting characters set during a post Civil War America.
Hetty and her husband Benji are the ones people go to to solve problems and get things done that the regular authorities won’t touch. Missing children, strange magic, and murders are just a few things that are handled by this team in Philadelphia. When a friend is f
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Historical fiction but with MAGIC and MURDER MYSTERY. Nicole Glover's debut novel features an expansive cast of characters led by Hetty and Benjy, former conductors along the underground railroad, now living in Philadelphia, building, protecting, and maintaining their Black community. When they begin to discover dead bodies marked with a cursed sigil, they begin the search for connections and a killer. This book moves slowly, with brief interludes into the past, to truly build and show the intri ...more
jordyn reads too much
Sep 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Thank you to NetGalley for providing an ARC to review.

The Conductors has rather a lot going for it -- a story of POC triumphing over the great evil that was the South in the Restoration era of American history. The general plot is about two underground railroad conductors solving a series of murders in their hometown. Oh, and there's magic.

However despite the extremely promising premise of the novel, I found this book to be lacking more than a few ways.

First off -- the magic system is FRUSTRAT
Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)
The problem with getting such early arcs is that when you read the book and you have issues, you don't really know if you should point them out because clearly they might still be editing the book. So I will only say this: I like the main ideas of the books and I like the story arc, I think if they fix some of the dialogue and tighten the narrative a bit, then this could be an absolutely excellent book. The mix of fantasy/speculative historic fiction was interesting, some of the ideas refreshing ...more
Debbie Gascoyne
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyable. The protagonist, Hetty, is a strong, three-dimensional character, the blend of history and fantasy is believable, and the central mystery plot was intriguing and suspenseful. Only lost some stars for a lot of proof-reading errors which hopefully will be eliminated in the full published copy. Highly recommended.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free e-copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

So unfortunately I DNFed this because it's just not for me. But I did read enough to provide some comments.

I was so excited when I first saw this book. I mean, magicians and a crime solving detective couple? Set post-Civil War? How intriguing! But this is more of a historical novel with fantasy and mystery elements, rather than a category fantasy novel. I think that was my biggest problem.

Milena Nová
Jul 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: not-bad, dnf
When I saw this book for the first time, I immediately wanted to read it. All thanks to synopsis, that sounded like amazing mix of historical fiction and fantasy. Well, sadly this didn't work for me.
The pacing of this story was just too slow. I was usually bored while I read The Conductors, and I could not make myself to enjoy the story properly. Another problem I had was with writing, which was too descriptive for me, especially when it's combinated with slow pacing in story. That's why I postp
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
This would make a cool TV show. Part historical fiction, part fantasy, all mystery. Hetty and Benjy used to be conductors for the Underground Railroad. Now she’s a dressmaker and he’s a blacksmith. Together, using their magical skills, they solve murders. The using magic and solving murders would lend itself well to a weekly tv show, plus altough Hetty and Benjy are married, it was more of a marriage of convenience, so it’s also fun to watch their relationship develop over the course of the book ...more
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was first entranced by The Conductors because of the absolutely beautiful cover featuring Hetty, standing resolute and knowing, and then by the blurb, which promised an interesting setting and story. Hetty Rhodes was once a conductor on the Underground Railroad, using magic and her wits to ferry people to freedom, but several years after the end of the war, she and her husband, Benjy, solve mysteries in Reconstruction era Philadelphia. The Conductors feat. a marriage of convenience (or is it?? ...more
Jacqueline Rohrbach
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

If you're looking for a good murder mystery with likable main characters, then I'd recommend this book. The history the author wove throughout was also interesting and really added to the book's narrative. So, if you enjoy murder mysteries in historical settings, that's an added bonus.

The Conductors has a really intriguing premise—two former conductors for the underground railroad solving crimes for people the police would no
I didn't know much about this book going into it, and let me just say, there is A LOT to love. Post-emancipation time period featuring an all Black cast. CHECK. A compelling main character who is tough as nails but also has a kind heart, even if deep down sometimes. CHECK. LGBT representation. CHECK. A mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat. CHECK. And what I love the most is that it's a book about Black folks who are their own heroes, who protect each other, police their own communities, a ...more
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
The magic system and the idea of Conductors solving crimes was a huge hook for me. While neither disappointed, it was the romance angle and the characters of this story that shone brightest.

I would have loved more information about how the magic works: limits, costs, patterns, etc. Everything in the book was tantalizing and fascinating, but I never felt like I could grasp it. That felt like a lost opportunity.

The interludes with flashbacks were strong and the most emotional parts of the story. E
I received an ARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

This story was a fun read and I really liked the main characters Hetty and Benjy. This story had a lot of potential, but fell short for me for a couple reasons:

1. the magic system: it was really interesting, but very vague. The sorcery magic used with wands by the white people in the story vs. the celestial magic used by former slaves is glossed over and never really formally explained - how are white people tau
Aug 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I struggled to get into this book, but by the end of it I had fallen in love with it. It starts off with some wanted/alert style ads about people running away from or helping others escape slavery, and when we join the actual story it was right into some intense action involving an entirely new magic system. In the first few chapters, I was constantly going back to the start to remind myself of the names and times and events.

However, it really took off when we settled more into the main characte
Thanks, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for the early review access.

To start off, Hetty, the main character, is one of the strongest characters I've read and I love her backstory and motivation. But further (and it's possible it's just me) I was expecting something else from reading the summary. The pitch of this book made me believe it was going to be a suspenseful dark fantasy fused with historical mystery. Although I like my fantasies as I like my tea (yes, dark), I had trouble getting into this b
Aug 20, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arcs
Thanks to NetGalley and John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Conductors is designed to be a murder mystery set in post-civil war Philadelphia with some magical elements. It follows the story of Hetty and Benjy, a couple that solves crimes, while they try to unravel why one of their friends was killed.

The premise of this book really intrigued me, I mean historical fantasy is awesome. However, I ended up not liking the book that muc
Geonn Cannon
Jun 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A really fantastic book. Most people will probably make the Dresden comparison (it's definitely apt) but I was reminded more of the Thieftaker series by DB Jackson. Historical fiction, well written and expertly researched, with a nice dash of magic thrown in. The magic of the world felt authentic and lived-in. A contender for the first great fantasy novel of 2021.
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. It took me a little bit of time to get very involved with the story, but, once I was, I was all in and couldn’t put the book down. It was a fun and clever murder mystery with magic. This was an awesome book with a really engaging story. I can’t wait for more from this author.

Thanks so much to the publisher and to netgalley for the arc in exchange for an honest review.
Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.
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