Thursday, 13 July 2017

Isabella's Reading Corner: The Last Magician

The Last Magician
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Publication Date: July 18th 2017
Publisher: Simon Pulse

The Last Magician is a fascinating YA novel about a girl named Esta who must travel back to the 1900s to steal a mysterious book, the Ars Arcana, that could save the future. 

Esta is Mageus, one who has an affinity for magic. Her ability is to warp time. In her world, Mageus are feared and misunderstood, especially by the Order of Ortus Aurea, who wish to harness and control their power. The Order uses artificial and corrupt ceremonial magic to create the Brink, an invisible boundary that keeps Mageus from leaving New York City with their magic. However, the Brink not only destroys the affinity, but the person as well, leaving nothing left of who they had once been.

Arriving in the past, Esta meets Harte Darrigan accidentally and sparks fly – even more so as he is the very magician she was sent to stop from destroying the Book! She joins Dolph Saunders’ team in a rush to prevent this from happening, but must keep the truth about herself and where she is from, a secret. 

Lisa Maxwell’s historic city is filled with intrigue and danger lurks around every corner. The story is bursting with lavish descriptions of an alternative New York. Maxwell employs lush and vivid detail and I became instantly immersed in the realm she created. The depiction of smells, lights and sounds is filmic in quality and visually appealing – from the ornate splendour of the buildings owned by members of The Order to the dark, shadowy back streets.

As sumptuous as the settings are, the characters are the heart of the story. The conflicts and attractions between these personalities are all underscored with an intensity that makes them seem all the more believable. 

Esta is plucky and strong. She is willing to risk everything she can to save those she cares for. Her relationships with so many of the characters, both in the past and her present are touching and real. Traveling back in time is made all the more dangerous because of the potentially disastrous changes she can make to history as well as to the very existence of some of the people she holds dear.

When Esta manipulates time and travels through it, the author paints interesting changes between the different time periods in the same locale. Esta was able to see the stars in the past, when she couldn’t in her own time while standing in an identical place. 

I enjoyed reading the background about Mageus and their magical attributes and strengths. Magic is their very existence, it is warm and alive. By contrast, the Brink and the alchemy utilized by The Order, is cold and desolate. Maxwell frighteningly describes the destruction it wreaks on those who come into contact with it. It is terrifying in what it can do and it shows the lengths The Order will go to remove the affinities of Mageus, in spite of the repercussions. 

The book had me questioning destiny and how much changing the past can affect the future.  
Fearing what you don’t understand and the unknown were also important themes represented.  

The Last Magician is an epic tale of time travel, adventure and a sprinkling of romance, with lots of twists along the way. It’s beautifully written with a thought-provoking story and likable characters who are not only fascinating, but inspiring. There is plenty of action and suspense, which kept me thoroughly entertained and rapidly turning the pages.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for the ARC provided.

From the publisher:
From Unhooked author Lisa Maxwell comes a captivating new world filled with magic and deception, about a girl who must travel back in time to find a mysterious book that could save her future.

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.

You can read my original Isabella's Reading Corner post on The Last Magician here.

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