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The Last Magician #3

De vloek van de slang

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Spannende en meeslepende fantasy die zich afspeelt in een magisch Noord-Amerika

Esta is een ervaren dief met een aangeboren gave om door de tijd te reizen. Haar hele leven is ze getraind voor één missie: terugreizen naar het New York van 1902 om het Boek der Mysteriën te stelen. Maar dit boek bleek een groter gevaar te bewaren dan iemand ooit voor mogelijk had gehouden: de wraakzuchtige godin Seshat zat gevangen tussen de pagina’s. Haar gruwelijke kracht leeft nu voort in Esta’s vriend Harte.

Esta en Harte zijn de enigen die Seshat kunnen tegenhouden, maar ze zijn gestrand in de tijd, ieder op een ander continent. Gescheiden door tijd en ruimte zal Esta al haar magie en sluwheid moeten aanwenden om Harte te redden en Seshat tegen te houden. Maar wat ze niet weet, is dat er een nog veel groter gevaar dreigt – gruwelijker en meedogenlozer dan Seshat en de Orde samen.

704 pages, Paperback

First published April 13, 2021

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About the author

Lisa Maxwell

11 books1,999 followers
Lisa Maxwell is the New York Times Best-Selling author of THE LAST MAGICIAN. Also of UNHOOKED, SWEET UNREST, and GATHERING DEEP. When she's not writing books, she teaches English at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys.

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5 stars
471 (26%)
4 stars
696 (39%)
3 stars
457 (26%)
2 stars
99 (5%)
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26 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 305 reviews
Profile Image for Ashley Nuckles.
190 reviews7,202 followers
June 5, 2021
(3.75 stars more likely) OKAY SO THIS BOOK. I’m slightly bummed because the first book was SO GOOD. And the second one I thought was ALSO GOOD. But I had to get halfway through this almost 800 page book before the story finallyyyy started picking up.

I still loveeee these characters and I still like the plot no matter how absurd or crazy it may get, but the pacing....oh my goodness. When it’s slow, it’s SLOW. And when it’s fast, it flies by! This was very much a stop and go and stop and go kind of book for me, and I was ready to tear my hair out through much of it (partly because of the pacing and partly because of what was happening in the story lol), but overall I can’t say I’m not happy for more Esta and Harte content. Because I’m very much here for it hahaha
Profile Image for Hilly 🎐.
709 reviews1,324 followers
Want to read
March 20, 2021
I love big books, especially if they involve a certain angsty couple and an amazing magic system. I’m SO READY (actually....I need to reread both TLM and TDT before I can get to this one but that’s just details 🥲)


Excuse me while I start reading The Devil’s Thief and doom my existence because there’s no publication date for this book yet.
Profile Image for Angelica.
814 reviews1,152 followers
Want to read
May 7, 2020
So.... we’re not gonna mention that 900+ page count
No? Ok.
I'm scared y'all. I'm excited and I'm scared
Profile Image for Morgan.
135 reviews146 followers
August 2, 2021
1) The Last Magician: ★★★★★
2) The Devil's Theif: ★★★
3) The Serpent's Curse ★★★

*spoilers for the first two books scattered throughout the review*

In the kindest and most respectful way possible, this series is deeply disappointing. I instantly fell in love with The Last Magician. It will forever have a place on my favorites shelf and in my heart. That being said, I have yet to be impressed by any of TLM’s predecessors. The Last Magician was, originally, supposed to be a duology, two additional books later and another one on the way, I wish it stayed a duology.

To begin my long list of gripes with this book, there were approximately 4 povs too many in the story. Viola, James, Jack, Celia, and Jianyu povs were all too often and carried little substance. These additional points of view ruined any possibility of The Serpent's Curse having a smooth read.

I honestly liked the story most when it was only Harte’s, Esta’s, North’s, and Maggie’s POV. 100 pages felt like 10 because I actually fell into the story and was enjoying every page. The plot flowed and there was no sudden point of view change to an irrelevant character doing something in a different year with different people in a different place.

For the characters, I was once again disappointed. My biggest disappointment was Viola. She suddenly became a weak, indecisive, and borderline disrespectful character. In almost every chapter in Viola’s point of view, she threatens to kill someone. But when granted the opportunity to kill the said person, she hesitates or fails to live up to her threats. Where did the confident, violent Viola go? I miss Viola who didn’t mind death and would do anything to protect those she loved.

I think my biggest issue with The Devils Thief and now The Serpent's Curse is how the plot is a constant loop. The main idea of both books is retrieving the lost artifacts and defeating Seshat and Toth. But somehow it has taken our large cast of characters over 1,300+ pages to find the artifacts, though not necessarily retrieve them (I’m looking at you, Jianyu). The main issue attributing to this dilemma is that Maxwell is basing full books on this cycle:

[insert character] Loses the artifact —> discover where the artifact is —> “I don’t have the item you’re looking for” “it’s gone” —> *character pain and conflict* —> finds artifact —> loses newly found artifact —> [repeat x5]

This loop gets old, very fast and aids certain characters in becoming a nuisance to read.

*Spoilers for the Serpent’s Curse Ahead*

For the other time jumps in the story, I understand why Esta took Harte to 1952; It was a logical move to save his life, but why stay in the 1950s?

Why not return to 1904 or 1902 when discovered possible with the Quellent? Why go through the learning curve of a new decade? Staying in 1952 added so many pages of explanation about what has changed since Harte and Esta jumped through time and the consequences of their actions. This made the plot move slower than molasses because suddenly, Esta and Harte had to relearn their surroundings and the world around them.

I also think traveling to the 1920s was completely unnecessary. Esta and Harte going to the Republic Convention of 1920, the random cameo of Al Capone, the reintroduction of North as a bootlegger (of sorts) all made the story feel like Maxwell had a laundry list of historical events and topics she had to cover before the book ended.
As I mentioned, wouldn’t it be easier to fix everything in 1902 instead of working backward through time? And they shouldn’t have to worry about crossing the artifacts with their older version since they were originally taken from that time period (1904). Perhaps I don’t understand the time travel rules Maxwell created, but I find all the different decades presented in the story exhausting.

And I SWEAR if Maxwell even thinks about making Esta pregnant or creating any type of pregnancy scare in the next book, the whole book is getting docked a star from me. There was a little too much emphasis on certain consequences in TSC for my liking.

I did enjoy the reveal that Nibs created the Antistasi. I like villains who are powerful and logical, so I appreciate Nibs covering his bases when it came to searching for the artifacts/Esta+Harte.

Overall, I feel like a hundred+ pages of the story could’ve been shaved off. There were too many points of view, too many irrelevant events, and the story overall was repetitive. You might be thinking, “Morgan, if you’re so disappointed in the book, why did you give it three stars?” Valid question. I’ll be honest, there were moments I did like, they were just too few and far between. And I suppose I’m forever an optimist and I am hopeful that I will be blown away by the next book and this series will be redeemed slightly in my heart.


According to Goodreads, this is now a 2021 release, Ms. Maxwell is making me nervous...


The Last Magician: ★★★★★
The Devil's Theif: ★★★

Will Lisa Maxwell redeem herself after making the perfect duology into a trilogy and adding a completely unnecessary book in the middle? Let's hope so because The Last Magician is one of my favorites and I really want to love this one too.
Profile Image for Laura.
Author 29 books206 followers
December 26, 2021
Finally finished it. It was a tad bit too long for my taste. Too much history and too much repition of events. Still one one of the best series. Looking forward the last installment.
Profile Image for Lia Carstairs.
417 reviews2,318 followers
Want to read
April 16, 2021
after 2 long years of waiting, we finally have the 3rd book-

have i forgotten everything that's happened in the last two books? yes, yes i have.

will i be rereading them? nope.

there better be a recap in here or else im doomed💀
Profile Image for Yeganeh.
611 reviews247 followers
November 29, 2022
All I'm saying is that it's been a while that I haven't read about two of the best main characters. God knows how much I love Harte and Esta.🥺

This book was epic. I think I liked it more than the second book, just because something is always happening at any point in the story, but the pacing felt a bit off because there were two climaxes. The page count scared me at first, but I somehow managed to finish this in three days; I loved the characters and can’t wait for the next book.the last magician is absolutely a stand out book in historical fantasy.
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
680 reviews3,949 followers
August 15, 2021
okay so the pacing was a bit off at the start but then I got SO INTO THIS. I loved the final third so much and I actually really liked the different timelines and character perspectives even though it shifted often. The angst was at times a little off the charts? but overall I'm still very much on board with and in love with this series and I cannot wait for the conclusion!
Profile Image for Alexa.
2,214 reviews11.7k followers
Shelved as 'library'
August 27, 2019
Am I screaming because there is suddenly a cover for this novel?
Why, yes. Yes, I am.
Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews1,013 followers
April 22, 2021

Warning, this review contains spoilers about The Serpent's Curse and the two previous parts of the series.

I have to say I am perplexed and disappointed, all at once. I suppose partly I can blame my frustration on the fact that this book was released with a big gap between this one and the previous one. It was too long and I've forgotten a lot from The Devil's Thief. It doesn't help that in book 2 we had new characters implemented into the story. And I couldn't remember half of them.

After I manage to partially restore my memory I was bored to death with multiple POVs. I really didn't care about Antistazi and stuff due to my faulty memory and the abundance of events taking place in this book. But I was more than happy to concentrate on Esta and Harte, until I wasn't.

Esta turned into a special snowflake/damsel in distress. Harte turned into a helpless ninny and a caveman. Gosh, it's a 180 degrees turn from the characters I ADORED in books 1 and 2. Now Harte can't stop thinking about Esta; he would do anything to save her. Esta can't stop thinking about Harte, and though he acts like a jerk, she would do anything to help him.

His woman, Harte refers in relation to Esta. Well, it doesn't get worse than that. Oh wait, it actually does! They have sex and then Harte announces that he'll do an honorable thing if there are consequences. For god's sake, the girl arrived from the 21st century, why on earth haven't you grabbed a couple of condoms with you before going on a stroll in 1902?!

The dynamic between Harte and Esta used to be hot as hell because of their rivalry and readiness to backstab each other. I get that love and all that jass happened but these two are acting absolutely out of character!

Jack wasn't a bad antagonist in the previous books, but here his POV was unnecessary. Boring, boring, and boring! I suppose Nibsy is still alright but Viola stole the stage light of the best among all characters. I really enjoyed her POVs in this book.

Color me surprised when I found out The Serpent's Curse is not the last book in the series. Agh, 700+ pages, and we still not near the ending. This book was exhausting, really. I don't know if I can take it one more time, which I probably will, because, hello, cliffhanger, and unresolved issues. But my only wish is for Harte and Esta to come back to their normal selves. To stop drooling and start acting like themselves. That's all I wish for, really.

Bottom line, The Last Magician started as a series I highly enjoyed and was ready to put on my favorites pedestal and quickly - or slowly - derailed into your average young adult fantasy with star-crossed lovers. If things continue that way, I hope MCs end up like Romeo and Juliet. At least then, I will have something to mourn.

Profile Image for Kennedy.
120 reviews15 followers
March 10, 2023
I really enjoyed this book a lot! The plot was really good and it felt nice coming back to the characters. I always feel like it takes me a long time to get to the next book in this series and when I'm finished with it, I'm always like ugh why didn't I read this sooner lol. One thing I will say is a constant theme throughout this series, is the characters having what they need literally in their hand and then the next page don't lol. 4.2/5 rating for me! Excited to see where the next book goes.
Profile Image for ♰denise♰.
170 reviews14 followers
July 26, 2023

57% reading update: when your two fav characters that eventually end up together finally reunite after more that half way through the book >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Profile Image for Christine Manzari.
Author 12 books1,142 followers
April 22, 2021
I thought this was the last book. It’s not. It ended on a cliffhanger but that’s okay, I’m glad I get more time with these characters!
Profile Image for Caitlin  Whetten.
1,154 reviews9 followers
April 28, 2021
I might be done with this series. Book 1 was a five star read, but I hated Book 2. Was hoping that it was a fluke and Book 3 would be back to form, but it was just more of the same stuff I hated from 2. It's too long, too many characters and not enough stuff happens to justify the page count, not to mention a fourth book in the works. I just stopped caring about 400 pages in. The characters, magic and world that once held my interest have become so convoluted and bland and drawn out that it no longer excites me. This book was a slog to get through even though the short chapters made the 700+ pages feel quick. Mostly I had no interest to pick it up. Overall, this series is probably one of the biggest disappointments for me and I probably won't be returning to it.
Profile Image for Kayleigh.
318 reviews16 followers
March 11, 2021
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for letting me read this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Spoilers are hidden below.

Diving back into this series after a three year gap between the second and third book was difficult. This book jumps right back into the action immediately where book 2 left off which is great for readers who are binge reading the series but confusing for readers like me who waited the three years for publication. I wish the book had started with a recap of what had happened in books 1 and 2. However, after taking time to check out some summaries online and a quick reread of the last 100 pages of The Devil's Thief, I felt confident enough to jump back into this book.

Unfortunately, this third book is a weak addition to a series that started out so strongly with The Last Magician. This book suffers from a bloated plot and poor character use. Firstly, the book is far too long and filled with so many dialogue scenes that add nothing to the story and are just there to fill in the page count. I lost count of how many chapters were filled with arguing between characters over what decision to make. I also got tired of characters being in mortal danger every 10 chapters or so and having to be rescued from death.

This book could and should have been more heavily edited to get rid of the unnecessary scenes across the multiple timelines including, but not limited to, the scenes with Viola and Ruby in 1902, The side characters that were integral to the story in the first two books felt pointless in this book. Cela, Abel and Jianyu added nothing to the story. Ruby was so unnecessary that the author herself wrote the character out of the story.

The villains felt extremely cartoonish in this book and some of the decisions around them were just perplexing and odd.

Finally, I do not understand why this series needs a fourth book. Even though this book was already too long, I feel like if the author had just added the extra 200 pages and made the book the 900 page finale it was originally planned to be, this series could have successfully ended as a trilogy.

Ultimately I was disappointed with this book especially because of how much I adored The Last Magician and how excited I was to see where this series would go. However, since I read this ARC at the same time as my best friend, Megan I am curious to see if our predictions for the fourth book come true. I think we have a good idea of what is going to happen.
Profile Image for thea ♡.
253 reviews85 followers
June 13, 2021
2.6 stars. even though theo is a dear, viola vaccarelli and ruby reynolds were the only reason why i read this book. but no sapphic energy was found >:( check out my book blog!

this is the third book, so spoilers ahead!

the main problem i have with this series is the plot. this book is about to give me trypophobia from the amount of plot holes it has. for example, when they were in chicago and jack had ahold of esta, she couldn’t have gotten out of his hold with her physical training that she used on other dudes a few paragraphs later?? i was just not vibing with the plot — it was chaotic, repetitive in some parts, and there was more tell than show.

this book was longer than it needed to be. i enjoy the characters, esp my original gang back in new york, but esta and harte’s journey was not for me. still lowkey holding out the hope that through one of the artifacts, viola will bring back at least dolph, and maybe leena. that would spice things up a lot.

enjoyed some parts, but overall: confusing, dragging, and i’m still gonna read the final book because i’ve made it this far.
Profile Image for nally nalka.
106 reviews25 followers
May 5, 2021
What a mental marathon!! this was so incredibly - perhaps unnecessarily- looong but I enjoyed the escapism nonetheless and it had many great moments but not enough Jianyu POVs in this one at all T__T hoping the finale rectifys that!

Full review to come.
Profile Image for Sandra.
644 reviews97 followers
June 15, 2021
Great as always. I just flew through the story again even if it is seriously big book.

I loved the atmosphere and the characters, but I cannot say any more since this is the third installment in a series.
Profile Image for Vee.
1,213 reviews96 followers
December 7, 2021

I was a little nervous to jump back into this series because it had been over two years since I read The Devil's Thief and I remembered it as being a bit of a confusing installment. I figured that if I was confused two years ago, when it was fresh in my brain, then there was no hope for present-me - so I kept putting it off. (Sidenote: this really, truly, is a great example of a series that could have done with a recap section at the beginning of this third book, there are a few timelines to keep track of and if there are going to be big gaps in between books it would encourage folks to continue reading on. I wish more publishers would do this.) Whilst it did take me longer than usual to get situated in this world again, I thoroughly enjoyed it - a lot more than the second book, which wasn't received particularly well en masse.

I think Maxwell took a lot of the confusing elements of book two's structure and elevated them. It was much easier to understand what was going on in all of the timelines, most of the time, and she didn't lose any of the cool aspects of the time travel elements of this story. I still think the cast is slightly too large for a time travel story, but it would have been difficult to write them out of the story considering a lot of their arcs only started in book two. However, I do think that there was much more page time devoted to Esta and Harte - the characters we have been invested in since the first book. I also think this book did well at getting the momentum of the story back on track and furthering along the plots/character arcs, which is something I struggled with in The Devil's Thief because it ended up being a pretty stagnant filler book.

The thing I enjoy most about this series, and why I continued wanting to read it after being a little disappointed with the previous book, is the atmosphere and how Maxwell manages to maintain that atmosphere no matter what time period we are in, whilst also keeping those time periods quite distinctive (in this third installment, at least.) I also really love Esta as a main character, she's quite complex and a little distant but it's been nice to see her development up to this book, especially with her powers.

I'm looking forward to the next book, I just hope there isn't another long wait!
Profile Image for Heather.
533 reviews39 followers
April 15, 2021
Disclaimer: this is a 4.5 star read. But it's a really, really solid 4.5 stars and this godforsaken hellsite is making me round up. Anyways, feel free to bury me with this series.

It's only been a year since I got into this series, but The Last Magician is without a doubt the most underrated series I've ever read. It's the perfect blend of fantasy and historical fiction, magic and wonder, and hits literally every single mark of what I look for in a series. After discovering that this third book would not be the conclusion as I anticipated it being, and that it would now be stretched into a four book series, I wasn't happy. I didn't want to wait yet again for more of this story and just wanted to get to the ending. But I get it now. Though Maxwell covered so much in this third book, there are still so many things left to resolve, so much more to do, and I see why she needs more time. This isn't a story that can be rushed or fixed with simple solutions; it needs to be thought out, it needs to be delicately crafted, and I'm confident that Maxwell is capable of doing just that. She has to be one of the most talented writers I've discovered in a while and I think if this was in other hands, this story would be an absolute disaster. But that speaks to Maxwell's talent, which I've talked about before, so it makes me incredibly happy to still be thinking so on the third book.

This book picked up right where the last one left off, with Esta reeling from the fact that Harte left her alone and took the artifacts with him in 1904, and with Viola coming to terms with Jianyu fighting for his life in 1902. What I find interesting about this series and where we are in this book is how though we're dealing with two very different timelines, it always feels like the same story. Because of Esta's affinity, she is able to pull the strings of time and travel and go to any time in history she needs to, but whether the story takes place in 1902 or 1904 or 1952, the main characters are always battling against Jack Grew, the main antagonist, and trying to save magic. I think it's really interesting to see how, in 1902, Jack is still grappling for power and control within the Order and that storyline of procuring the ring artifact involves so many different players, but then in the future years Esta is able to travel to, that image of Jack that they're fighting has essentially done what he'd dreamt of in 1902. And while it looks and sounds dire, because Esta can time travel there's never any lost hope just because Jack accomplished all those things and gained power through outlawing and attacking Maegus over the years. Though I'm firmly against time travel because no one ever seems to follow the rules, I really enjoy seeing it in this series because Esta never tries to work against her affinity or whatever ripples in the timeline she creates, but works with them. I like that she has a very strong understanding of time travel and history, which is a great reflection of Maxwell, and uses whatever year she ends up in to her advantage rather than just jumping back into time travel. A great example is how she and Harte travel to 1920 to procure an artifact and try to stop an attack on Maegus at the RNC to prevent a terrible future of Jack Grew as president. I like that Esta doesn't just disregard the consequences of her time travel and regardless of what year she's in, she's always fighting to stop the Order and save magic. It makes it exciting and unpredictable, regardless of what plot timeline you're following, because anything really can happen.

Another thing I loved about this book was how it's very plot heavy and is full of action and different storylines that come together for that common goal, but it also doesn't really ignore its characters. I love the storyline of Harte coming to terms with his relationship with his father, Esta's relationship with Harte and her role in the war for magic, Cela and Abel's relationship with their community and magic, and Viola's relationship with unlearning the toxic hatred her family has instilled in her. Because there's so much story going on it's easy for characters to get lost, but I feel like Maxwell did a good job involving the characters and providing them with necessary development. And though I hate Jack and Nibsy equally, it's really interesting to see their antagonistic side of the story, how they become the way they are and how they work against the characters and the story itself. I do feel like we underused Jianyu a little bit, since I feel like he's just as important to the story as everyone else, but given how he was on his deathbed for a good chunk of the book it makes sense how his POV was lacking. Though the POVs weren't wholly balanced, I still feel like we constantly got a well rounded look at what was happening in this story, regardless of where we were in the timeline, and it was constantly interesting, constantly relevant, and never predictable.

I think the reason I docked a half star is because there were some elements of the story that felt a bit unresolved, like what happened with Ruby's character but one can only assume that she'll be back for the grand finale, and part of me is still slightly confused about the involvement of Seshat and Thoth. I definitely understand them a lot more now, and I think it was explained really well near the end of this book, but I wish that the recap of how they happened to be in the story and both Harte and Jack was done a bit better. The overall recaps were well done and triggered my memory when necessary, but there's always room for improvement, you know?

This was a hefty book, one of the biggest I've read in a while, but it was so solidly good. I truly admire Maxwell for being able to balance the magic of fantasy and the heaviness of historical fiction, and you can feel how well researched everything is and how astutely she goes about tackling what could be difficult times in history. Just like Esta, Maxwell works very well with different times in history rather than against it or glossing over things that can be seen as ugly because, as said in her Author's Note, history is ugly and historians don't have the luxury of glossing over such things. The theme of prejudice and superiority is a constant in the story, whether it's with the Maegus and the Sundren or the Black and Asian communities in history respectively, and I love how Maxwell uses them in the story as driving points for various characters rather than relying on them to tell her story for her. As I said, this is a very well done series, written and crafted so solidly and constantly improves over the series, and I truly cannot wait to see how it all ends now that I know where and how it plans on doing so.

Seriously, if you haven't picked up this book yet you really need to. The most underrated series I've ever read and will be one of my favourites for years to come. But if I have to wait over a year and deal with more pushback I might have to riot. God, what a magical yet stressful series; I love it.
Profile Image for Maren Johnson.
602 reviews5 followers
June 1, 2021
*sigh* This book put me in a reading slump. Minus a star for that lol.

The Good
- Esta and Harte. Legit why I'm here. I will even read book 4 just for them. I like them both, and believe it or not, I'm now here for the romance. It's the silver lining in this massive tome.
- You know I actually don't mind North and Maggie. Weird, I know.
- Jianyu has grown on me. His plot line is still a waste of space, but I like him more now.
- Okay, that whole San Francisco spot and the time traveling and the freaking plague section. Wow, that was a 5 star section, kids.
- The time travel and magic is still dope.

My Complaints
- This series is really starting to feel like a giant wild goose chase. The characters have been trying to do the same thing for TWO MASSIVE BOOKS, and they've made absolutely NO PROGRESS. The end of book 3 looks just like the end of book 1. Did I also mention that the problem these massive books are trying to solve is one that the CHARACTERS CREATED OUT OF MISCOMMUNICATION??? So the whole plot these days feels like a waste of time. *sigh*
- Too many characters and POVs. *sigh*

I'm just glad I've finished, and I hope I can continue to read in my life, and this book wasn't the end of it all. (also I thought this was the last book, but now there's going to be a 4th, and that makes this book even more of a waste of space)
Profile Image for Kristina.
77 reviews1 follower
May 2, 2021
First of all,why is this book so long? With the plot it has it could easily be written into 300 pages. I don't like that nothing happens in it as well. The ending felt rushed and absurd . The characters also made idiotic decisions which i couldn't justify anymore even if i wanted to like this book. I couldn't wait to see what will happen after the 1st book. I had mixed feelings about the 2nd one but now? I couldn't care less even if all of them died and Seshat won in the end (and actually now i prefer that ending).
Profile Image for redlouder.
352 reviews112 followers
September 11, 2021
J’estime que Lisa Maxwell se moque de moi. L’histoire devait être une duologie mais finalement il y a quatre tome et le problème c’est que ça se ressent ! L’histoire est allongé au maximum dans le moindre raison donc un événement qui pourrait se resssoudre en 10 chapitres prend le livre entier 😬
Je ne sais pas si je lirais la suite c’est beaucoup trop lent pour rien…
Profile Image for Sarah.
517 reviews1 follower
September 30, 2021

I cannot express my complete and utter frustration and disappointment with the third book in the Last Magician trilogy, especially when I waited with bated breath for 3 stinkin’ years for this book to come out.

To recap quickly, I rated The Last Magician (book #1) 4.5 stars. I absolutely loved this novel and I was recommending it to everyone I knew. The Devil’s Thief (book #2) wasn’t quite as thrilling at book 1. It added way too many new characters to the narrative and Esta and Harte’s relationship seemed to take a step back instead of forward. For that, I rated the book 3.5 stars, still clearly enjoying the overall story, but it wasn’t quite up to par with its predecessor.

The Serpent’s Curse (book #3) was highly anticipated and I purchased this book as soon as it came out. As you can see from my drastically lower 1 star rating, this book took an even more sever nose-dive, crashed to pieces, and burned away any desire I have for wanting to continue the series.

So, what the heck happened?

Well first things first; let’s talk about the general length of this novel. It was 749 pages long and could’ve (and absolutely should’ve) been scaled down to a maximum of 500. I am not intimidated by long novels but the plot was slow, the action only present in bursts, and I was so unforgivably bored for too much of the novel for there to be any excuse about why this couldn’t have been cut shorter. Entire chapters were flowery, unneeded, and ultimately irrelevant to any plotline of the novel. They added zero value to the storyline or character development and were there solely to waste time.

Then there were the characters and the different points of view I was subjected to. As I have stated in just about every single review I write, if an author is going to have multiple POV’s, they need to execute them well. Maxwell was so successful with this during The Last Magician and I had no reason to doubt her skill. The Devil’s Thief quickly slapped me in the face with the reality that skill and finesse executed once doesn’t make an author a master at it. It was a point of contention in my review of the novel with all of the added characters. The Serpent’s Curse continued to dig that same hole for itself that was started in book 2. Here again, this book took a more downward spiral and I absolutely hated it.

Here are the different characters and who gets their own POV:
1. “The Serpent” (aka Nibsy / Professor Lachlan / James Lorcan)
2. Nibsy (see above)
3. Professor Lachlan (see above)
4. James Lorcan (see above) (Yes, the same character gets 4 different POV’s under multiple names in multiple different timelines)
5. Esta
6. Harte
7. Jack Grew
8. Viola
9. North (aka Jericho Northwood)
10. Maggie (love interest to North)
11. Ruby (love interest to Viola)
12. Cela
13. Jianyu
14. Plus our honorable mentions: (They didn’t have their own POV but they were featured a lot) Theo, Logan, Able, Thoth, and Seshat

Breaking this down a little more (from what I can remember – because keeping track was a nightmare):
1902 POV’s included: Jack, Viola, Nibsy, Cela, Ruby, and Jianyu
1904 POV’s included: Esta, Harte, North, Maggie, Jack, Nibsy/the professor
1952 POV’s included: Esta Harte, and Jack
1920 POV’s included: Esta, Harte, and North

Because there were SO MANY different POV’s in this book, it never made for a smooth read. We were constantly pulled from one character to the next (and from one timeline to another) that very little momentum to the story was ever really able to be developed. This book went stagnate with very little substance or depth because it was so focused on pointless dialogue between characters or overly-long monologues.

The differing timelines also bring me to my next point: that this story became one convoluted, twisted, disaster in the worst possible way. It was the butterfly effect on steroids because Esta and Harte couldn’t stop changing things and messing things up more than what had been on course for the future already. The amount of mistakes they made were truly mind-boggling

To compound this, book 2 and 3 are almost identical in that we are stuck in our own time loop with the characters chasing after the artifacts: losing them, finding them, getting them back, and then losing them again. And, even at the end of The Serpent’s Curse, we still don’t have all of the artifacts in our grasp. Seriously, how much more can this be dragged out??

While there were certainly POV’s that were a clear waste, I was also disappointed with who Viola became in this novel. This hard-core, tough-girl that I had fallen in love with earlier in the series, became so disgustingly weak in this book. She completely lost that fire, strength, and confidence that I had associated her with. It was like she became someone else entirely. I could barely stand her for most of the book.

Look, we get it: murder is bad. Unless you’re in a fantasy novel and you’re kind of at war with a group of people that wouldn’t hesitate to kill you. While I complained about Viola losing her tough-as-nails persona, part of the reason she did so is because Viola kept threatening death to her enemies but never once followed through. The assassin developed a conscience and became an oowy gooey marshmallow. But it doesn’t begin and end with Viola. Both Esta and Harte talk about killing Jack a few times

The [human] villains in this novel (Jack and Nibsy) became more cartoonish in this novel as well, like that mustached-curling man laughing manically “MuHahaha” and rubbing his hands together. They were so incredibly conniving and seemed to plan for almost every single possible outcome/variable that could be conceived (therefore having backup plans already in place for anything that occurred that they weren’t 100% prepared for). Whereas Esta, Harte, and the other “good guys” made mistakes seemingly all the time, our villains never did. They were infallible and god-like, which not only made this book frustrating for our hero’s/heroine’s but I absolutely abhorred it as well.

Esta and Harte were the 2 character that I have felt so invested in. While it’s clear that they have a few more chapters than the other characters in this novel, and that these two remain our main protagonists, the other characters mentioned above weren’t far behind them (contributing to that feeling of stunted development and a book that is incredibly drawn out overall). I continued to love them (generally speaking) but I don’t think the issues surrounding the rest of the book can make up for how much I hated the other aspects of this novel.

This series was originally supposed to be a duology and has spun out of control for no reason. Maxwell should’ve tried to stick to that plan and not messed with a good thing because her writing and her series has suffered for it. After reading this book, I cannot, in good faith, continue wasting my time with this series. The Last Magician (book #1) will remain one of my top-rated books but I would caution you to set your expectations low for the following books in the series. They DO NOT get better.

It took me 4 long months to force my way through this novel and almost every second was pretty brutal. I was close to DNFing this book a number of times but was determined to power through it. This book is done (Victory at last!) and I will say goodbye to the series because there is absolutely no way on God’s green earth that I can make it through any subsequent novels like this one. It’s not worth the agony.
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