Book Review: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Published July 18, 2017 by Simon Pulse. 512 pages. 
Synopsis: 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.

My Review:

I was given an ARC copy of this title by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. An abridged version of this review has been cross-posted on Goodreads.

This book was such a pleasant surprise! I went in not knowing much of the story and with not many expectations, since the author wasn’t familiar to me yet.

The Last Magician is a story all about magic but with a very intriguing heist and time travel twist. The main character Esta has been a thief for years and can successfully swipe someone’s pockets clean with or without magic, so she was the perfect person for the job. It was up to her to travel back in time, farthest back into the past as she’s ever been before, to steal the most precious artifact in the magic community.

The first few chapters were a bit confusing, as we go back and forth in time while Esta is finishing another one of her usual jobs for Professor Lorchan. Once you get into the swing of the time travel though, you’re in for a ride! In fact, the time travel became one of my favourite parts of the story.

The magic system is also very unusual, since everyone has a different affinity and thus can do different things. Mageus never know what other Mageus are capable of, which added an extra thrill to the plot. This also makes for incredibly interesting and unusual advantages to certain characters, since the element of surprise is what they’re all after in a big heist.

Lisa Maxwell, author of The Last Magicians (2017) and  Unhooked (2016).

I loved all the characters, even the villain in the story. While I guessed some parts of the story at the early stages, the execution of the heist and time travel plot still left me intrigued the entire time. Esta was witty, intelligent, strong and yet all of her self-doubt and fears made me love and relate to her even more. She’s far from perfect, but her flaws added a great layer to her character that felt genuine to a girl her age in her circumstances. I savored each page and didn’t want this to end! I’m glad the story will continue in another volume because the ending left me wanting more and more (in a great way!).

There is a very diverse cast including an LGBTQ+ arc (side characters). The queer couple’s story deserved a bit more attention in my opinion, as some big events take place and readers are left hanging. I’m hoping the next installment will make up for it somehow.

If you’ve read Victoria Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic series and enjoyed it, then you should definitely give this one a go! It may also cater to those in love with the early 1900s, similar to The Diviner series by Libba Bray.

Author: Marina

Books and comics enthusiast.

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