The streets of Creije are for the deadly and the dreamers, and four crooks in particular know just how much magic they need up their sleeve to survive.
Tavia, a busker ready to pack up her dark-magic wares and turn her back on Creije for good. She’ll do anything to put her crimes behind her.
Wesley, the closest thing Creije has to a gangster. After growing up on streets hungry enough to swallow the weak whole, he won’t stop until he has brought the entire realm to kneel before him.
Karam, a warrior who spends her days watching over the city’s worst criminals and her nights in the fighting rings, making a deadly name for herself.
And Saxony, a resistance fighter hiding from the very people who destroyed her family, and willing to do whatever it takes to get her revenge.
Everything in their lives is going to plan, until Tavia makes a crucial mistake: she delivers a vial of dark magic—a weapon she didn’t know she had—to someone she cares about, sparking the greatest conflict in decades. Now these four magical outsiders must come together to save their home and the world, before it’s too late. But with enemies at all sides, they can trust nobody. Least of all each other.
Warnings: child abuse, physical and gun violence, death of parent
Christo’s new book is about a team of crooks taking on their Kingpin to save their city and their realm from his onslaught of magic. In Creije, the main draw for tourists is the magic – both legal and illegal; after the War of the Ages, there has been no new magic created because the Crafters were either wiped out or went into hiding. Wesley is the underboss of the city, having clawed up to his position at 16 by being ruthless when needed, and Tavia, his best friend, is one of his buskers. Saxony and Karam are both his employees, but both with different jobs and loyalties to him; they used to be in a relationship but aren’t at the start of this book. They all have a common goal – stop Ashwood, the Kingpin who is more magic than human, and save the Crafters he presumably has to make his army. He already has a deadly magic spell out on the streets, which takes over a person’s mind and makes them violent, and Wesley, despite being his protege, doesn’t like the idea of the city he grew up in falling to chaos.
Now, the thing about this book is that the ingredients – the characters, the setting, the conflict – all seem fine, but somehow the recipe seems off? I say this because I really couldn’t get into this book and kept putting it down again and again. It just wasn’t engaging me and I kinda felt reading it was a like a chore at certain points in the book. The voices of the different characters sort of melded together into one omniscient narrative, than actually being distinct, which meant we didn’t get to understand the characters well, either. They were hiding stuff from each other, but also from the reader, and since they were all nearly together at most times, it felt like the four perspectives didn’t really have a point. The couple of chapters where we got to see from a couple of minor characters at least served to tell us of the situation in another place, but the main characters could have very well been just one voice, at the end of the day.
As I said before, the setting and the stakes absolutely interested me. In fact, I am still invested in finding out how they will defeat the magic now, and what the reveal at the ending means for the rest of the characters. I loved the subtle development of the romance between characters that already know each other well, and I did like their dynamic with each other. Wesley being a dramatic and pompous underboss contrasted well with the other characters who were less grey in their morality; Saxony’s and Karam’s complicated relationships with their families made for good emotional conflict. It’s just that the narrative style hindered truly enjoying this story.
Is it diverse? Of the four main characters, 2 (Saxony and Karam) are sapphic WoC and 1 (Wesley) is a MoC; secondary PoC characters
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Feiwel and Friends, via Edelweiss.
Released on October 8, 2019