Kristen Burns's Reviews > A Criminal Magic

A Criminal Magic by Lee   Kelly
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4.5 Stars

Full Review:
This was one of my most anticipated books of the year. You see, I've always been interested in the Prohibition Era, and I love urban fantasy, so...

Prohibition Era + Magic/Urban Fantasy = Very Happy Kristen

And I was not disappointed by that combination! So many aspects of this book blew me away.

First of all, the writing did an amazing job of capturing the alternate 1920s vibe.

There was also the world building, which added even more to the amazing 20s feel. It had all the right details and in the perfect amount---everything from the gangsters to the settings to backstories about the characters/society/gangs to the way the magic worked to the plot itself.

Then there were these specific things that I just loved and found really fascinating. For a while, Alex's POV was my favorite because the gangster side of things was so intriguing. I guess I read about magic a lot, but I never read about gangsters. And every single little thing about the gangsters, the two different gangs, the history, the bosses and underbosses, the drugs, the deals being made, etc. was so detailed and well thought-out without being confusing once you got all the information.

But then I also started to enjoy Joan's POV just as much because everything about the Red Den where she worked was just as incredible. The whole performance---*MILD SPOILER ALERT* (view spoiler) *END SPOILER ALERT*---was so creative. Even the way they had the schedule for practice... it was that attention to detail that just made everything so realistic and made me feel like I was there, surrounded by the story.

Yet another amazing, realistic thing was the characterization. They weren't my favorite characters ever, but damn if they weren't ridiculously well-written. The two main characters grew and developed in a really natural way, even if it wasn't always for the better.

And for anyone wondering about the romance, it was there, but it wasn't mushy, and it never overpowered the story.

Last but not least, there was a great build up of tension throughout the entire book as things got worse and more complicated and more tangled and more dangerous. The book was a little slow-paced at times, but that tension kept me hooked. I just kept waiting for everything to come crashing down and explode. I didn't get quite the massive explosion I wanted since things kind of crashed down in parts instead of all at once, but there was still a good resolution to all the anticipation.

As for the ending, my immediate, subjective reaction was that I didn't like it. But now that I've had some time to think, I realize that it was the only right way for the story to end.

So overall, this book had a unique magic-filled Prohibition Era world, attention to detail that really made things come alive, and incredibly realistic characterization. Rarely have I come across writing and storytelling this intricate and superbly well done!

Recommended For:
Urban fantasy fans, anyone who likes books set in the Prohibition Era, and anyone who likes realistic, well-developed characters and intricate plots.

Original Review @ Metaphors and Moonlight
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Reading Progress

January 18, 2016 – Shelved
January 18, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
April 21, 2016 – Started Reading
April 21, 2016 –
April 21, 2016 –
9.0% "Damn, I just met these characters, but I can already feel the tension."
April 23, 2016 –
35.0% ""She tips the basket toward me as evidence. Inside are hundreds of white feathers. 'Literally.' \n I smile. I guess she’s some sort of stagehand. 'So you work here?'\n 'Nah, I just like to wander off the street sometimes. Smuggle out random props.'"\n Why is this cracking me up so much? Lol"
April 23, 2016 –
73.0% "Everything in this book keeps building up and up, and I'm anxiously waiting to see what happens when it all explodes."
April 24, 2016 –
100.0% "Ummm... :-/ That was... not quite the ending I wanted."
April 24, 2016 – Finished Reading
April 27, 2016 – Shelved as: read-2016-books
April 27, 2016 – Shelved as: super-creative
April 27, 2016 – Shelved as: paranormal-urban-fantasy
April 27, 2016 – Shelved as: mancers-mages
April 27, 2016 – Shelved as: historical-fantasy
April 27, 2016 – Shelved as: fantasy
April 27, 2016 – Shelved as: amazing-world-building
May 5, 2016 – Shelved as: reviewed
May 5, 2016 – Shelved as: favorites
November 24, 2016 – Shelved as: beautiful-writing

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