THE LAST MAGICIAN

From the Last Magician series , Vol. 1

A doorstopper with a total shakeup of an ending: don’t miss this splendid series opener.

Gangs, immigrants, and the rich keeping the poor down, with a twist.

In an alternate New York, magic is wielded by the Mageus, whose innate affinities vary widely, and the Order, who disdain but use magic in rituals that limit the Mageus’ freedom. For centuries, Mageus have entered but cannot leave Manhattan thanks to the Brink, a magical barrier surrounding the island. Esta’s affinity involves manipulating time, and the professor who raised her has sent her from the present day to 1901 to stop the destruction of a book that could potentially destroy the Brink. Shifting third-person perspective follows Esta into the past as she infiltrates Dolph Saunders’ gang and becomes involved with Harte Darrigan, the handsome magician who destroyed the book. Crisp pacing and plenty of details tell the story of engaging, if selfish, characters in their late teens and early 20s working at cross purposes for big reasons. The past is slightly romanticized but largely realistic: the Mageus function as a stand-in for any immigrant group subject to prejudice, and Esta’s contemporary attitudes shine a light on outdated attitudes, while through the experiences of Chinese Jianyu (the only nonwhite member of Dolph’s gang), some of the racial prejudices of the past are confronted.

A doorstopper with a total shakeup of an ending: don’t miss this splendid series opener. (map) (Historical fantasy. 12-adult)

Pub Date: July 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3207-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

Close Quickview