Second review for today! I am kinda backed up with other posts rn. I promise I’ll get them all to you by the end of the month. I promise. hahaha restarting work, really did throw me off.
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell
Synopsis From The Book
Stop the Magician.
Steal the book.
Save the future.
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.
Fantasy – Historical | YA – E |Dangerous Magic Tricks, Gang Violence, Stealing | Loyalties, Freedom, Survival
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
Alright another book club book for this month. Not gonna lie, I have so many. But its what happens, I suppose. I’ve wanted to read this book for a long time now, actually. So this is sorta, the perfect opportunity to read this book.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
That was so much more of a historical drama than a fantasy, if I’m being honest. And I’m here for it. I do want to read the next two books in this series a lot more now. I really did like this.
Part 1: 1900 Dolph is trying to save Leena from a group called the Order. They have Mageus, and she falls into a location called The Brink, and loses her magic which leads to her death. Dolph loses his magic trying to save her. Nipsy, Dolph’s right hand, convinces him to keep his crew, and the two plan a heist to take down the Order tryinning to convince a man named Harte Darrigan to help. He refuses. 1926, Esta and Logan are trying to steal a knife from the Order. However things go wrong and Logan is accosted. Esta saves him but ends up revealing herself to do so. When they get back to present day, Esta discovers that her actions butterflied and one of her friends is gone and the Order is stronger. She is to be sent on a mission to the past, alone this time, to join a crew on a heist to steal a book that should free magic.
Part 2: Esta lands in 1901, after thinking she might have seen another one of her friends die. She is overwhelmed and ends up losing her bag. Trying to get back on track for the mission, she realizes that the key that helps her move through time is spent and she’s stuck in the past. She tries to find the connections to get to Dolph, but ends up getting kissed by Harte (and kissing back) and then almost assaulted by another man, who she breaks the face of. She proves herself to Dolph by stealing, and she is tasked with getting Harte on the team. Meanwhile, Harte is already contemplating joining, and is learning more about the Order and their people who are all big rich tycoon sons, and assholes. The two meet again when Esta is sent to see him during one of his magic shows, that she escapes with ease. Esta helps Dolph’s crew steal from those tycoons and Harte catches her and she escapes again. Jack is able to create a device that will help the Order eliminate Mageus. Esta is then sent to speak to Harte and they establish a connection as ‘long-lost-lovers’ because Esta needs to get Harte on the team. Dolph’s team, Tilly specifically, is attacked by the Brink that has moved. Harte finally agrees to help Dolph in exchange for Dolph’s protection from another gang.
Part 3: Tilly dies and Viola mourns. Esta is sent to Harte to live with them. They create a con to convince Jack to love her, or want to monopolize her, and to get an in to the book. They pull off the stunt, amidst a few arguments and Jack is taken. Harte asks Esta about the man in her memory and she tells him sort of the truth. They meet with Jack but more sparks fly between Harte and Esta. Esta is taken in a raid. Harte and Jack escape and Jack reveals his machine, which killed Tilly, that has the ability to destroy all Mageus. However he also reveals that when it broke all the power it controlled broke. Harte wonders what that means when the Brink breaks. Harte needs help to get Esta back so he goes to Dolph. But he meets Nibs and learns that Nibs is planning to betray Dolph, and use the book to destroy the Order and control all the Mageus, and that Nibs kidnapped Harte’s mother. Harte is basically muzzled until he can get his mother back. Esta starts going on dates with Jack in order to get them an in to the date of the heist. She succeeds and Harte is not sure he can trust any of them.
Part 4: The group goes to the event, but Harte lied to Esta about the final act. Instead he brings out a safe, and the plan to steal begins. Before it starts, Harte tells Esta most things. Nibs kills Dolph. He dazes Viola with his ability and steals the book along with Esta’s cuff. Esta is saved by Jianyu and she meets up with Nibs and realizes Harte was right and that Nibs was the enemy. Nibs tries to use Esta to get the book, but Harte gives it to her. They talk about everything else and then he jumps from a bridge. Esta returns to the present to find out Proff Lachlan and Nibs are the same person. That she was Dolph and Leena’s daughter and that Nibs killed them both. She had accidentally been sent too far into the future, and Professor Lachlan tries to use the book and fails. He sends her back with Logan, and she escapes Logan and saves Harte who was faking his own death. Esta and Harte make a plan to stop Nibs, and how to use the book to get through the Brink.
What I Liked:
Esta; She was spunky and dedicated. Quick to turn, but when you are leveled with such obvious truths, it makes sense. I liked her. Having a trained thief, who thinks like a thief, was a nice change of pace from what I’ve read in months.
Harte; Everyone loves a good charming magician. A ladies man and a fraud. I adore him.
Logan; He was cool from what we got. I really hope we get more of him in later books.
Jianyu; He was interesting, and has his own plans. As a POC (Chinese) person in 1902, it was hard on him and I did appreciate his story. I want more of him too.
Viola; This poor girl who was trained by her family to kill. Her affinity is for healing not killing. Goodness. I liked her so much, and seeing her lose TIlly, who she loved, was heart breaking.
Prof Lachlan/Nibsy; I had a feeling Nibs couldn’t be trusted but for him to be Proff Lachlan? Color me surprised. His great plan is just a plan of power and I respect that.
Jack; Honestly, I really liked him. He was an interesting character and I do hope he comes back, because Jack as a villain is not bad. He did create an awesome machine that could destroy all magic, after all. He seems real smart to me.
Time Travel; I like the way that time is used in this story. Esta’s actions have real consequences, which leads me to believe that there is so much more that can happen.
Concept and Writing; I liked the execution of both of these things. It could be a little dry at times, but honestly that fit with the narrative. Do keep note that the time lines switch and there are multiple perspectives, and it goes back and forth. I thought it was fine, but it could be difficult to get into.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
A bit of a better understanding on Affinities and magic. Although I do really like that elemental magic is not a thing.
We talked about how the shifting perspectives was difficult to get into for a few people. I also complained about corsets for a good minute and then talked about historical costuming, which made the book club laugh. We talked about Logan and Esta was set up but we didn’t get much about it. And then the magic was a bit confusing not just for me. However, everyone did hope that book two would go more into the science and magic.
“Change your feathers often enough, and the mark won’t recognize the bird.” – pg 180