Title: The Last Magician
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: July 18, 2017
Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Source: LitJoy Crate – July Box
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Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.
In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.
Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.
But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.
**Sorry in advance about how long this review is, but it really is a gushing review. For a shorter version either jump down to my final thoughts or check out my YouTube review here:**
This was such a fun read. This was a book that I only learned about when trying to guess what the book in the LitJoy Crate Box was and when I read the synopsis, I knew I wanted to get my hands on this book. Not related to the review at all, this book is absolutely gorgeous. The photo I have does not do this book justice at all.
Focusing on what’s in the book, the story itself was great as well. I personally love multiple perspectives in fantasy books, especially when different characters have different relationships to the magic and MC. Being able to go inside of the character’s mind when the events are unfolding is great. That being said, I’m happy that the author only uses another perspective when that’s what’s needed to move the plot forward. I know that sounds dumb, but what I mean is that the POV will only switch if another character’s POV is necessary for fully understanding the next part of the plot. They can still be in the same setting as the previous character, but for some reason, it was that character that was needed to show the emotion in the scene. From what I understand, this is very Martin-esque (I have not read the Song of Ice & Fire books, but I hear that’s how is POV tends to work).
The characters were also super likable. Esta was a badass MC from present day that was thrust into a sexist world in the early 1900s. This is actually addressed throughout the book; things that Esta can or cannot do because she’s a woman in this time. I absolutely loved that this was addressed. I cannot think of another time travel story (if you know of one, PLEASE let me know!) that addresses the social change this head on without making it the focus of the story. Harte was an interesting flawed character with a mixed moral compass. I liked how he mirrored Dolph in his motives.
The magic system in this book was a lot of fun. People did not “do magic”, rather they had a “gift” or “talent” (similar to a super power) that was unique to the individual. Interestingly though, other Maegus could detect magic being used. I also thought the ways the magic was perceived in the society was done well. Having the “magic is bad” stance in the urban fantasy society was something that could have been painfully clichéd but was approached in a way that didn’t feel too familiar or overdone.
So, when I was reading this book, I (kind of) did a buddy read with Jessica from TheLitteraryBird (be sure to check out her review, she’s great!). She did point out a number of spelling/grammatical errors throughout of the book. I didn’t notice these at first, but once they were pointed out, I did pick up on some through out the rest of the book. Some were distracting from the narrative, others were not.
I also had the odd sensation that different parts of the book had different ratings. The beginning was interesting for me (like 3.5-4 stars), but it didn’t hook me. I know other people didn’t really like it at first. Then the middle was a bit slow, well my reading of it was considerably slower. This part was more of a 3-star read. The ending was fantastic. Like the last 100-150 pages were worth recommending the book alone. This was a 5-star ending. This made rating the overall book kind of hard (not really, but I had to take a minute to rate the entire book, not just the parts I liked/didn’t like).
I’ll go more into this in the spoiler corner, but the plot itself was great. The basic time travel story was elevated in this urban fantasy setting. There were some parts of the book I was expecting to be predictable and tropey, but that wasn’t the case. There were some parts that I saw coming, others that took me by surprise, and overall this book was great. Easily one of my new favorites.
Okay, time to quit being vague.
Holy crap that ending. Actually, those last 100 pages, like all of part four. It’s weird to say, but part four was definitely my favorite of the entire book. Honestly, most of my love for this book was because of how the fourth part wrapped up the story we were invested in along with setting up for a sequel.
Towards the beginning of the book, Etsa learned that one of Dolph’s group (gang?) members was actually a traitor. About half way through I was suspecting it to be Nibs. I thought that he might actually be working with the Order to find a way to expand the Brink or finding a way to pass through it himself. I did not expect him to be the professor (at least not until after Esta returned to our time period). That was an amazing twist and seeing how Esta reacted was even better. Her emotions spanned between betrayal and anger to realization and plotting. I also loved how she didn’t just give up when she learned Nibs was still in control, but she tried to find a way to right the massive mistake she made.
I thoroughly how smart of MCs were. One of the things I initially didn’t like in middle part of the book was the slow build leading to the reveal to Harte’s and Jack’s motivations. The slow build worked after you find out what they’re planning, but reading hint after hint was starting to get annoying. Although it was aggravating as the reader to watch Harte and Esta not trust each other and inform the other about their plans, it made sense within the context of the story as to why they couldn’t. At least Esta was able to fill Harte in towards the end of the book, leading into a great sequel set up.
The only twist I felt kind of came out of nowhere was Esta being Dolph’s daughter. They only passingly mention that Dolph had a daughter and it wasn’t that big of a deal. What redeemed this potentially throw away twist was that Esta’s power was not time travel (necessarily), rather she was the Aether everyone has been searching for. Gah, that took me by surprise, but it made sense for this world that was created.
Okay, as you guys can see, I loved this book. I thought this was a great urban fantasy that had such a unique concept. The idea that New York is actually a trap for magic users was such a brilliant idea and watching a strong MC deal with early 1900s sexism was handled fairly well. I’m dying for the sequel; the set up is great and I hope that the rest of the books are this great.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 4/5 Stars