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I Belong

Review: A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

A Criminal MagicTitle: A Criminal Magic

Author: Lee Kelly

Genre: NA Paranormal

Series: N/A

Publication Date: February 2, 2016

Format: Hardcover, 432 Pages

ISBN-10: 1481410334 (Simon & Schuster)

ISBN-13: 978-14814010335 (Simon & Schuster)

Reviewed by: Bridget


THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly’s new magical realism, crossover novel.

Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive – and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.

It’s 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city’s magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer’s shine.

Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.

Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic – and when their paths cross at the Shaws’ performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

A CRIMINAL MAGIC casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties.

Quick & Dirty: Intriguing story that is captivating and unique. I would highly recommend it to both NA and YA paranormal fans!

Opening Sentence: Magic can achieve a lot of thing, but it can’t undo the past.

Excerpt: No

The Review:

It is the year 1926 and instead of alcohol being illegal, magic is illegal. Sorcerers have the ability to brew a very special drink that will leave you with a high that no other substance can even compare to. This liquid drug is called sorcerer’s shine and not only is it extremely addictive it is also very dangerous. But brewing shine isn’t the only power that sorcerer’s possess; they also have the ability to cast amazing illusions. The only downfall to magic is that no matter how amazing or powerful it is, it can only last for 24 hours. Once the time is up whatever was enchanted will go back to normal, including shine. Even though magic has been outlawed this hasn’t stopped criminals from using it. Gangs have created secret venues where you go to see the sorcerer’s create unbelievable illusions and at the end of the show you can get a shot of shine. The business is quite profitable and very dangerous!

Joan Kendrick is an eighteen-year-old girl and she recently lost her mother. Joan has the rare magic touch as did her mother, but Joan has sworn to never use magic again because of the tragedy that seems to follow in its wake. Magic killed her mother, it made her little sister sick, it turned her uncle into a monster and to Joan it seems to be a curse instead of being a gift. She hated her magic but when she is offered the chance to work for a very wealthy gang she just can’t refuse. Her family needs the money and she made a promise to watch out for her family after her mother’s death. She never realized how addictive magic could be or what she was truly signing up for when she agreed to work for a criminal!

Alex Danfrey’s life was torn apart a year ago when his father was indicted for magical crimes. His father was in pretty deep with the criminal underworld and what no one ever knew was that the magic all came from Alex. The courts never charged Alex for anything and to try to make amends he joins the federal prohibition unit. For his first mission he is sent undercover to infiltrate the same gang that Joan has joined. As their paths cross they develop a friendship that could potentially turn into something more.

Joan is such an interesting character. In many ways it felt like she was an anti-hero because she definitely has some very dark characteristics to her personality that felt a little villainous! She is a character that has a lot of layers a depth. She is very smart, sweet, cunning, and resourceful. She’s not afraid to do what she has to so she can survive and take care of the people she loves. She also has an air of innocence to her that made all the bad stuff she did not seem so horrible. She is a very complicated girl and I found her fascinating. I really hope that there will be another book so I can get to know her even better.

Alex is one of those guys that no one can resist. He is extremely good looking, very intelligent, and can charm pretty much anyone. As you get to know him you realize he tries to keep everyone at a distance. His life has been hard and he has been hurt deeply by his father. At first, going to work for the government was just a ploy to try to help his image but he eventually grows to love and appreciate his job. He genuinely wants to be a good person, even though he feels inadequate at times because of his past. You see all the different sides of him and you can’t help but completely fall for him.

A Criminal Magic is a dark and delicious story that you will not soon forget. From the very first page, I was instantly hooked and ended up reading the entire book in just a couple of days. The pacing was spot on and there was never a single moment that ever felt like it dragged or moved too slow. The romance was full of great tension and I loved how it developed! The idea was so unique and different from anything else I have ever read. This is definitely a book that will make you think and question what is right and wrong. There’s a lot of gray matter covered in the story and I just found that so interesting and intriguing. The book is technically a new adult novel, but I think that many YA fans will enjoy it as well. The ending was an absolutely perfect fit for the characters and just the story in general, but I really hope there will be a sequel. Things were left open enough that it is a possibility, so there is hope for another book. If you like dark stories or complicated characters or books that make you think, this is definitely a story you should pick up.

Notable Scene:

“Get off me!”

He rushes after me. “You tell Gunn, I sear–”

But he never finishes his sentence.

Because a blinding shot of Tommy and Rose’s lightning cuts right through him.


FTC Advisory:  Saga Press/Simon & Schuster provided me with a copy of A Criminal Magic.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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