Katerina Kondrenko's Reviews > A Criminal Magic

A Criminal Magic by Lee   Kelly
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4.5 out of 10

Ревью в моем блоге/This review on my blog
Living A Thousand Lives
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Short-Soundtrack:
Funk Off – Magic Touch
Caro Emerald – The Wonderful In You
Mits Jazz Band – Magic Mirror

Genre: magic-realism, historical-fantasy, YA
Stuff: illegal magic, Roaring Twenties
Fail: boring story
WOW: the ending
POV: 3rd-person, she/he
Love-Geometry: zero with seeming elements

Quote-Core:
"Run until you win, or until you fall."

Buddy-read with Nastassja and Vera. Check their reviews and see that I'm not alone with my annoyance.

Sometimes we live in a fool's paradise. Yes, this man is an asshole, but with me he would change. Yes, this dress is awful on you, but it would suit me well. Yes, this book is known for a so-so read, but I'd fall for it, sure as hell. Uh-huh...

This book has everything to win a reader's heart: Roaring Twenties, illegal magic, characters with flaws, antiheroes instead of villains; but no spark, no suspense, no spice. You admit to yourself that the story is kinda unique among YA-genre, that its stuff is well-thought-out and logic's at home, but you're bored and not caring. How's that possible? Good question.

We have a world in which some people have magic touch, they can do extraordinary things, make spells and create an addictive drink aka 'shine'. Government forbids sorcery, so if you are one of these powerful persons, you'd better keep low profile. Of course, there are secret rooms where commoners can see some tricks and buy a short of shine. Some belongs to particular families while some are under gangsters' control.

Our MCs, Joan and Alex, are special, but their lives aren't easy. Alex's father was using his son's power for making contraband magic-drugs and now he's in prison. Joan's mother is dead and that wasn't an accident. Moreover, she has a druggy bastard of an uncle and has to take care about younger siblings. The boy works for Feds hoping to clear his family's name. The girl is a barmaid who's gonna lose her house. One day both of them would receive an offer, the offer they wouldn't decline. Thus Alex will become a cop undercover among dangerous gangsters The Shaws, while Joan will become a performer at one of the Shaws' rooms, but first she would have to survive sorcerer's Hunger Games (no kidding).

Sounds interesting? Well, maybe. If I retell you the whole plot you would consider this book as an intense read with awesome twists, but you should know that between these twists there are million dull moments. This story might be great, but the way it was told... screwed its potential. You know that feeling when something's off but you can't grasp what exactly is bothering you? During this read I was wondering and wondering, why I'm not invested in the story, why I wanna all the characters dead, why they refuse to be dead, why, why...

I felt Roaring Twenties' presence, but in a very narrow way. All we see is a gangsters' life, their deals, their fights, their attitude. Turned out, I don't give a fuck about this kind of stuff. But in every Alex's chapter we have to participate in it. When it comes to Joan, we see only walls. She never leaves the building in which she works. You may expect more magic, but nuh... Usually we hear how she and her troupe are preparing for the show and when she hear how the show is already over. Nice, 'cause I never wanted to see it. I was always in need of more information about rehearsal. It's way better than magic itself. Sarcasm block is over! And you know what? Maybe rehearsal is really a better thing to read about, 'cause local magic is freaking boring. You will see a few tricks after all, people in the book would tell you it's fucking amazing, but I'm sure you wouldn't agree with them. When someone writes about sorcery she or he may use even purple prose to make their descriptions vivid, to make readers feel. But Lee Kelley wrote about tricks in a matter-of-fact narration. And the tricks themselves were nothing special at all.

Now to my other issue which is romance. The author tells you Alex and Joan are thing, but they're not. There are some beautiful scenes between them, but the characters lack chemistry and I had no emotions about them. Better development might help. Or not... Since I didn't like MCs. At first, Alex seemed sexy and dark and then he became a puppy. Joan seemed a shy and kinda submissive girl and turned out being a fucking the best of the best with maniacal intentions. There is another person, Mr. Gunn. He had never acted out of his character, he was creepy and scary and cunning. No wonders, I liked him. Not as a love-interest or a hero I would team up with, but as an intriguing man. He was kinda involved in a romance between MCs, but not in a traditional way. You'll see if you'd pick up a book (don't do this, you don't wanna do this, xD). And to be honest, Joan's romance with Gunn may be way sexier than the once she had with Alex.
“My fate is tied to this man’s fate. The fate of this sadistic, scheming enigma of a gangster.”

Isn't it sexy? The more I think about this book, the more I enjoy Gunn and the more I despise other characters. Sorry not sorry.

The ending a little redeemed the story. It was action-packed, dark and bitter-sweet (where the 'sweet'-part wasn't necessary at all). It was an open final, but I wish A Criminal Magic wouldn't have any sequels, 'cause this cake is need to be re-backed before someone decides to put some icing on it.

PS: I have a question. If sorceress are so kick-ass creatures why gangsters without magic touch rule them and not vice verse?
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Quotes Katerina Liked

Lee   Kelly
“Back when the line between magic and reality was a lot more blurred, before this world started regarding sorcery with such fear and suspicion, magic was like a language among sorcerers. It was a thing to share, not a thing to hide. And for a long time, it was rumored that a worthy ring of seven sorcerers could unlock a magic within the magic. That seven was the key to strengthening gifts and surpassing weaknesses—and could even bend and flex the laws of magic itself.”
Lee Kelly, A Criminal Magic

Lee   Kelly
“I’ve gotten into tons of fights before, but nothing like this. I’m trying to push a gangster past the brink. A gangster from a gang that kept my father drenched in sweat and nightmares. A gangster almost double my size. Howie better be watching.”
Lee Kelly, A Criminal Magic

Lee   Kelly
“Joan.” Gunn shifts on my bed, bringing me back to the here and now. “I’m not in the habit of asking twice.” He stares at me with those cold, hard, almost taunting eyes. “In fact, I’m not in the habit of asking at all.”
Lee Kelly, A Criminal Magic

Lee   Kelly
“My fate is tied to this man’s fate. The fate of this sadistic, scheming enigma of a gangster.”
Lee Kelly, A Criminal Magic


Reading Progress

October 29, 2015 – Shelved
February 7, 2016 – Started Reading
March 10, 2016 –
5.0% "So magic makes drug-drinks? Who needs alcohol when one can reach the Moon with a short of magical shine. I expected smth different... but will see."
March 13, 2016 –
7.0% ""You're really a sorcerer's shine virgin?"\n \n New virginity's level guys."
March 13, 2016 –
13.0% "Wow, now I like it. Quite a company does she have."
March 15, 2016 –
22.0% "So far the magic is kinda dull. Give me more fire."
March 15, 2016 –
22.0% "Wow, she literally heard me! I've got my fire)"
March 15, 2016 –
29.0% "Freaking scary"
March 16, 2016 –
41.0% "I'd love to see this particular show. Way better than a standard planetarium."
March 16, 2016 –
53.0% "No suspense. Not a bit. So I'm already tired of reading this book."
March 17, 2016 –
67.0% "Danger is near."
March 17, 2016 –
93.0% "I'm on my way to your end, bloody book! Who's the survivor here? I AM."
March 17, 2016 –
96.0% "Ooh, I like it. In a very maniac way."
March 17, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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Nastassja "During this read I was wondering and wondering, why I'm not invested in the story, why I wanna all the characters dead, why they refuse to be dead, why, why..."

Aw, it's so rare to see you swear in reviews... Fuck, yes!!! (I know, I know, I am a bad influence) xD

"I have a question. If sorceress are so kick-ass creatures why that's gangsters without magic touch who rule them and not vice verse?"
Good question, it crossed my mind a few times during reading and I think it would be logical for magicians to rule. I guess, it one more flaw this book has :/

P.S. Jazz soundtrack is amazing!


Katerina Kondrenko Nastassja wrote: ""During this read I was wondering and wondering, why I'm not invested in the story, why I wanna all the characters dead, why they refuse to be dead, why, why..."
"


That's right! Referring to how Joan was dealing with gangsters in the end... magicians have to rule the world!)


Vira Thanks for the music, I should have used it while reading)
"When it comes to Joan, we see only walls"
Good one, Kat! And this doesn't only concern Joan - the whole world here was as plain as a wall.
And to your final question, we never got to know what is the general picture with the magic? Really, how come powerful sorcerers are at the bottom of society?


Katerina Kondrenko Vera wrote: "Thanks for the music, I should have used it while reading)
"When it comes to Joan, we see only walls"
Good one, Kat! And this doesn't only concern Joan - the whole world here was as plain as a wall..."


Thanks, bro. I mean, a sorcerer can take your gun without second thought and he's afraid of your gangta-ass anyway... not believable.


message 5: by Pang (new)

Pang Hahaha the writing and plot sounds dull and boring. See you and Nasta really don't like this book! I am so sure gonna stay away from it! LOL!


Katerina Kondrenko Pang wrote: "Hahaha the writing and plot sounds dull and boring. See you and Nasta really don't like this book! I am so sure gonna stay away from it! LOL!"

That's worse than donotliking, 'cause in the end you have no idea what exactly to write in your review, since the book is booooring. No emotions at all(


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