Release Date: April 24, 2015
Publisher: Kensington Teen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Genre: YA Fantasy
There Be Monsters Here. . . It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.
I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.
But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her.
I am starting to think that Jennifer Estep is truly a magical being. Only she can pull me out of a reading rut and leave me impressed, excited, and motivated to read some more. COLD BURN OF MAGIC is the latest masterpiece by this fantastic wordsmith, it's YA urban fantasy that has magic elements in it, mafia-like families, a conflicted heroine, an understated hero, and a lot of bad guys afoot.
First impression is, Lila Merriweather could easily be Gin Blanco's (Elemental Assassin) daughter or the Ashland Assassin herself in another life. Maybe it's just me, but I found a few similarities between Black Blade and EA. No complaints here, I have yet to read JEstep's other books and if this is her formula, then I don't mind drinking her Kool-Aid again and again.
The world building is very UF, a small tourist town populated by monsters and people with magick. Instead of elemental powers, Black Blade's characters have Talents. Like they can compel you, absorb your powers, mimic it, sight, etc. Cloudburst Falls is ruled by Families, the Sinclairs and Darconi, they're like the mafia, very organized, influential, and powerful. Apart from the Talented, there's also a peppering of magical creatures which the Families "control" and protect the humans, aka "rubes", from.
The characters are similar to EA's personalities, I can point out a few of them that is reminiscent of the inhabitants of Ashland. The bad guys, like the Draconi, are very cold, conniving, ruthless, greedy, very easy to spot and hate. The supposed good guys are more gray in that they're similar to the good guys in that they will not hesitate to take you down. The only difference is they still have some morality left in them. Take Lila herself, she's an orphan who took over the "family business", meaning she's a thief for hire who've killed a few people in some of her mission in self defense. You won't see nor feel remorse from Lila in this respect, it's easy to like her actually, the difference is she has conscience and still leans towards doing what's right, or in some cases, the lesser of evils.
COLD BURN OF MAGIC might not have a strong romantic element but it has some teen infatuations brewing for it. As expected, Lila is sort of paired up with Devon Sinclair. The seemingly fragile, but very important member of the Sinclair Family whom Lila is hired to guard. Don't be fooled though, Devon's got some surprises up his sleeves and the dude isn't as breakable as you thought he is when you first meet him. There's also some forbidden love going on here with the other characters, I'll leave that for you to discover. I don't intend to tease, I mentioned it to highlight that Black Blade isn't centripetal to Lila, she might drive the story but the other characters have their own story to tell and are just as interesting.
Speaking of the supporting cast. COLD BURN OF MAGIC is abundant in interesting characters. My favorite has to be Oliver, Lila's pixie who has an attitude problem but very adorable. The dude also has a drinking problem, he's addicted to honeybeer and would chug them sweet beverage down when he's upset.
There's a wealth of things I can tell you about COLD BURN OF MAGIC. But that won't be fun. I'll leave it to you to experience this novel for yourself instead. In the next couple of weeks, you'll see several rave reviews for Black Blade 1, trust them, we're not exaggerating. JEstep's latest novel is fantabulous don't make the mistake of missing it!