Book Review & Giveaway: A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

Posted November 2, 2016 by Melissa in Book Review, Giveaway | 42 Comments

Book Review & Giveaway: A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

I fell in love with Lee Kelly’s City of Savages and am so please to bring you this review and giveaway of A Criminal Magic!! Enjoy!

About Criminal Magic
Book Review & Giveaway: A Criminal Magic by Lee KellyTitle: A Criminal Magic
Author: Lee Kelly
Publisher: Saga Press
Publication date: February 2nd 2016
Target Audience: New Adult
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Length: 422 pages
Source: Publisher
Format: eARC
Find It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
My Rating:

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.

Book Quote

“Our turn,” Joan whispers.
She sparks to life a small sphere of light, maybe the size of a globe, right above the audience’s heads. And then she breathes life into it, slowly expanding it, like she’s blowing up the world’s most brilliant, glimmering balloon.

My Thoughts

Hmmmm…let me start off by saying that the 1920’s is not my favorite historical setting but I adore all things magic and fell in love with Lee Kelly’s debut novel City of Savages so I was excited to have the opportunity to check out A Criminal Magic.

Set in an alternate version of our world where the prohibition of the 20’s was against magic rather than alcohol, the premise of A Criminal Magic is compelling and all of the components (magic, gangsters, family, love, competition) sound like they should combine to constitute the perfect read.

Sadly although I did enjoy this read…it didn’t live up to its full potential.

I had a few issues:

  • The Pacing – I was interested yet this seemed like the book that would never end. Things happened soooo sloooowly! LOL
  • The Character Development – I never really understood these characters though I did like them. I felt like they could have accomplished so much more with their gifts rather than just living life as pawns.
  • The Anachronisms – It really just felt like contemporary characters plopped into the setting. I didn’t find the narrative or their conversations to feel correct for the time period.
  • No Roaring 20’s – Aside from the Shine Rooms…there really was nothing else to even help the setting feel like the 20’s.

That said – there was one thing that A Criminal Magic really did right:

  • The Magic – OMG!! This book was worth it for Lee Kelly’s imaginative use of magic if nothing else. I guarantee you will love all the different type of magic and magic shine/contraband and how it’s used!!

Overall, I enjoyed this read though I had hoped for a bit more…and sadly a bit of that bit more was the 20’s feel despite that not being my favorite time period…I was really hoping this book would change that but it didn’t even try.

I did hear that A Criminal Magic has been optioned by Warner Bros. for a TV show. I think that this read would lend itself wonderfully to that medium and would definitely tune in!

Tour-wide giveaway

A hard copy of A Criminal Magic, plus a few of Lee’s recent favorite magic reads: A Darker Shade of Magic, The Night Circus, The Witch Hunter, plus a pre-order of a magic book Lee is really excited about next year, Caraval

INTL – Ends Nov 9th:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Lee Kelly

lee kelly

Lee Kelly has wanted to write since she was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until she began studying for the California Bar Exam that she conveniently started putting pen to paper. An entertainment lawyer by trade, Lee has practiced law in Los Angeles and New York. She lives with her husband and children in Millburn, New Jersey, though after a decade in Manhattan, she can’t help but still call herself a New Yorker. She is the author of A Criminal Magic and City of Savages.

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42 responses to “Book Review & Giveaway: A Criminal Magic by Lee Kelly

  1. Haha, the 1920s IS my favorite historical setting, so I adored this book! And I felt kind of the opposite about the characters in that I thought they were super well written, but I didn’t necessarily find them that likeable. I do agree that it was kind of slow-paced though. But hey, we all have different tastes! I’m glad you found at least some things you enjoyed about it 🙂
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  2. Theresa Snyder

    I read this book when it first came out and I did really like it. I do agree with your comment about not really a 20s feel to (though I do like that era, really anything historical I like!) And yes, the magic was magical!!! That was the best part!!!

  3. I am not familiar with Lee Kelly or her books so this was a wonderful introduction. Thank you for this opportunity to enter the giveaway for Lee’s books and to find out even more.

  4. I am curious about this one. I don’t think I’ve read a book that took place it he 1920’s so not sure what my opinion of that time period is. I am glad you liked the characters even though you didn’t necessarily understand them. The magic part sounds really well done. Great review!
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