I have been meaning to read this book since it came out last year and I just never get round to it but then the author announced she was having a readalong in time for the release of book two so I just had to join. And I am so glad I did as I really loved this book!
So if you don’t know what this book is about here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
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 artefacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artefacts 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.
So I first wanted to read it as it was set in the early 1900’s and I love historical fiction and this book had magic and was about a heist! So it already had me intrigued. When I started reading it I knew I would love this book and I was completely hooked.
The only rule that counted was to not get caught.
The first few chapters are set in different time periods as we meet all the characters and get a feel for the story. It can seem confusing at first but I was able to figure things out fairly quickly and with the multiple points of view were able to see a wider view of the world and the way the magic system works than if we had only seen things from one of them.
I loved the setting so much it was so vivid and we got to see so much of New York and not just the glittery parts but also the poorer parts where things aren’t so rosy and life is difficult. The world building was really great and we get to see more and more of the world and see it become more complex and intricate.
The characters themselves are all amazing, it was hard to hate any character even the villain. They were all complex and had great character building. They were each given time to develop as the story progressed and each had their own back stories and storylines interwoven into the main story wonderfully. It didn’t feel forced or that we were given unnecessary information which might have clogged up the story.
My favourite character was of course Esta, who has the ability to manipulate time and can travel between different time periods. She has to live in the early 1900’s and even though she was from our present day so it was fun to see how she had to adjust to being a woman in that time. She is funny, sassy and I love that we got to see a vulnerable side to her, who doubts her ability but persists nonetheless. It was one of the things I loved about her.
But then, people usually do miss what’s right in front of them.
My other favourite character is Harte Darrigan who is sassy and acts as though he doesn’t care about others and always likes to stay in control of the situation but we also see a more vulnerable side. His and Esta’s banter and rivalry was one of my favourite parts of the story and we get to see how their relationship develops.
The story itself develops at a good pace and we get to see it build to the ending which left me shocked as it was so unexpected. The story is a heist and full of deception where each character has their own motives and plans despite working together as a team, no-one is who they claim to be and we have to figure out who we can trust. The revelation of the villain was so surprising and unexpected too which just goes to show that no-one can be trusted in this book!
But then, liars do make the best magicians, and he happened to be exceptional.
We also get a sense of urgency for Esta to complete her job as she has a news clipping from the future which keeps changing depending on the actions and changes that happen in the past. It was a nice addition to create more suspense and keep us on the edge of our seats.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction, magic, time travelling and heists!