Review: The Last Magician - Lisa Maxwell

The Last Magician The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Series: I believe this is going to be a duology

My rating: {★★★★☆}

YA Historical Fantasy
Published July 18th 2017 by Simon Pulse

Source: Simon & Schuster via Edelweiss
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.

I received an uncorrected reader's proof of The Last Magician. Any quotes used may not be in the final published copy.

From the opening line I was enraptured with the Magician and I knew from the first paragraph that I was hooked: I needed to see where this book would take me. And WOW, it was INTENSE.

I have to admit that it was a little confusing at first - there's a lot of timelines to follow and a lot of characters to get to know but Lisa Maxwell handled it extremely well and it wasn't long before I was engrossed in the story and entirely invested in the characters and their adventures.

The Magician stood at the edge of his world and took one last look at the city. The spires of churches rose like jagged teeth, and the sightless windows of tumbled buildings flashed in the rising sun.
The writing is lovely - flowing and descriptive and using gentle metaphors and personification to create quick and vivid images and engaging the senses. From the very outset I could see where I was : I could even smell and taste and FEEL it.

Not being American and not knowing my American history I wasn't sure of the feel of historical Manhattan and New York in general, but I could definitely appreciate the authentic way the past and present combined to create the world The Last Magician was based on. Between the world building and the dark tension this book was almost unputdownable.

As I mentioned, there's quite a large cast of characters at play in this book but once you get to know them a little you soon learn that each is well fleshed out and distinct.

Esta is the main character and I loved her - she's independent and clever and capable and definitely no damsel in distress. She's a feisty Mageus with an affinity for bending the layers of time but she's also an accomplished thief and extremely well educated in all manner of ways and she doesn't need to rely on her affinity to get her out of tight situations which I appreciated - too often it's an easy out for an author to rely on the element of magic to be a quick 'get-out-of-jail-free' card, but in The Last Magician, magic is never all powerful and the characters used their affinities as anyone else might use other tools at their disposal.

The other characters were all equally enjoyable and it was difficult to know who to trust and what to believe. I have to admit, I got 'Six of Crows' vibes from this book in the beginning, especially after first meeting Dolph Saunders, but only in the best way and while it may be similar in some ways to Six of Crows (heists, adventure, gritty anti-heroes), it truly is it's own story and while the characters and their development are important to the story, it's definitely more plot driven.

Time travel is integrated in such a way that it isn't a deal breaker if time travel isn't your thing. The essence of time travelling and all it's possible ramifications are there, but at the same time it isn't a quintessential time-travelling sci-fi - there's more fantasy elements and manipulating time just happens to be one of the affinities displayed.

There's a little romance included in these pages and it held some great tension and was believably built, but it's far from being at the center things.

The past and the present are interconnected in so many complex ways and the juggling act between this and the many plot twists and turns was impeccable. There's historical fiction combined with secret societies, gangs, turf wars, heists, a diverse cast and an unrelenting pace in a well plotted story.

There's quite an explosive ending and I am left wantingNEEDING more and still slightly reeling with so many unanswered questions. Not the least of which is, when is the next book coming out? And more importantly, how can I get it?