Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1)
Author: Jennifer Estep
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
Release Date: April 28, 2015
There Be Monsters Here. . .
It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.
I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.
But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .
Cold Burn of Magic is the gripping first book in a new young adult paranormal/urban fantasy series that will leave readers begging for more. The book follows our main character, Lila, as she lives her version of a normal life in Cloudburst Falls - the "most magical place in America." Of course, most people don't know the half of what really happens there. Lila is a phenomenal main character! She's tough, smart, strong, determined to avenge her mother's murder, and isn't afraid to do what needs to be done - even if it's a bit sketchy. She's also a Magick - a person with magical talents or abilities - but keeps her two Talents as secret as possible. She's incredibly good at her job - which primarily consists of stealing things from the rich people around town - including the lower level thugs in the city's two biggest crime families - the Sinclairs and the Draconis. The story is told from Lila's point of view, which (if you've read any of my other reviews) I think is the best writing style. The reader gets to really connect with Lila right from the beginning. We get to see things happen from her perspective and are privy to her innermost thoughts, dreams, fears, memories, and doubts - to name a few. Since the story is being told by Lila, the tone of the book is more conversational and personal than any other point of view. It makes the reader feel like a part of the story - either like Lila's recounting the story to them or like they were right there alongside her as everything happened. None of the other writing styles allows this kind of familiarity with the narrator or the ability to completely immerse yourself into the story - which is one of several reasons why it's my favorite.
Things are pretty normal for Lila until the two biggest families basically bring their violent feud to her front door. Lila's in a sticky spot and has to make a quick decision - get involved in the fight or watch some cute guy die because she didn't do anything to help. Lila starts to think that she made the wrong choice because that cute guy? He's none other than Devon Sinclair. And now that she's put her life on the line for him, it looks like she might just get killed by the Families' feud - just like her mom did.
I have to admit right from the start that this is the first book by the author that I've read. I've heard nothing but great things about several of her other series and books, and they've all been patiently waiting on my to-read list for a really long time. I had somewhat high hopes and expectations for this book before I even started it because of all the fantastic things I've read about the author's other works. Let's just say that what I thought were high expectations and hopes turned out to be nothing compared to the amazing story I found inside those pages. I can honestly say that I loved every single thing about this book - which is really rare for me! Each aspect of the book was fantastic, and when you combined them into the novel - it was nothing short of incredible.
One of the biggest parts of this book is the world building, hands down. The author created such a diverse and unique setting for the story to take place in that I didn't want to leave it. In Lila's world, there are regular people along with Magicks, actual monsters, and rival Families fighting each other for control over the city. Each of these categories of characters are different from one another for varying reasons. The Magicks are people with magical abilities called Talents; the Families are rival mob families who are fighting with one another to take over the city; and the monsters - well, there are a ton of them - and each has it's own distinct features and behaviors. I absolutely loved learning everything I could about each type of monster, the different kinds of people, and the Families that I could. I loved that the city didn't hide the fact that there were literal monsters there - they even had zoos where people could go see them! All of the small details the author included made this world really come to life for me and I can't wait to revisit it. There's so much to learn about the city, the people, the history of the Families, the various monsters, etc., and I'm really hoping that we get to learn even more in the following books.
The plot of the story sounds a bit mundane from just the description, but it certainly wasn't that way throughout the book. Being the first book in a new series, a lot of the story goes into meeting the characters, the world building, and getting a good feel for how everything is going to work together. Aside from all of these things, which the author does a fabulous job of, there's an actual plot that helps kick off the series. By mixing together all of the various aspects I've described, we get to know Lila's character and past, experience her world, meet a bit of the Families, and - of course - we have to have at least a little romance with a hot guy! To make things complicated and interesting, the hottie that Lila saves is from one of the two major Families feuding over the city. I have to admit that I found that small part a bit predictable, but I didn't mind because it was written so well. Everything in the first book sets the stage for the rest of the series - including the plot - and I think that the author did a phenomenal job introducing us to it all as well as starting to create a larger plot line that will carry through to at least the next installment, if not further. The way she wrote it was seamless and the reader doesn't even catch on to what all is happening while they're reading. I was so swept up in the story and immersed in Lila's world that I was only vaguely aware of these things going on in the back of my mind. I honestly don't think it could've been done better. The entire book is fast-paced with vivid imagery and detailed descriptions that have you feeling like you're right there while it's all happening. Every aspect of the book flowed together effortlessly - so add in the fast pace and the vivid world building - and the reader will be flying through the pages to see what's going to happen next. It was a really quick read for me, which I found a bit sad - only because I didn't want it to end. I can't recommend this book highly enough! Readers who have experienced the author's writing before know that this is going to be an incredible series. To those of you who are new to her works, like I was, all I can say is that it will suck you in right from the beginning and then proceed to blow your mind - in the best way possible. There are so many genres mixed into the novel that there's bound to be a bit of something for everyone to enjoy - so my final four words are these: READ THIS BOOK - NOW. I promise you won't be disappointed.
A mesmerizing first book in what promises to be a sensational new series!
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Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin adult urban fantasy series for Pocket. Books in the series are SPIDER'S BITE, WEB OF LIES, VENOM, TANGLED THREADS, SPIDER'S REVENGE, BY A THREAD, and WIDOW'S WEB. THREAD OF DEATH, an e-novella, is also available.
HAINTS AND HOBWEBS: AN ELEMENTAL ASSASSIN SHORT STORY can be found in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST ROMANCE.
DEADLY STING, the eighth book, is set to be released on March 26, 2013.
Jennifer also writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington.
Books in the series are TOUCH OF FROST, KISS OF FROST, and DARK FROST. CRIMSON FROST, the fourth book, is set to be released on Dec. 24, 2012.
FIRST FROST, a prequel e-story to the series, is available as a download. HALLOWEEN FROST, an e-short story, is available in the ENTANGLED e-anthology.
Jennifer is also the author of the Bigtime paranormal romance series. Books in the superhero-themed series are KARMA GIRL, HOT MAMA, JINX, and NIGHTINGALE. A KARMA GIRL CHRISTMAS, an e-story, is also available.
Excerpts, free short stories, and more information on Jennifer's books can be found athttp://www.jenniferestep.com.