Rag and Bone
Author: KJ Charles
Title: Rag and Bone
Series: A Charm of Magpies; Rag and Bone 2
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Rating: Five Petals
On the Author's Website:
It’s amazing what people throw away…
Crispin Tredarloe never meant to become a warlock. Freed from his treacherous master, he’s learning how to use his magical powers the right way. But it’s brutally hard work. Not everyone believes he’s a reformed character, and the strain is putting unbearable pressure on his secret relationship with waste-man Ned Hall.
Ned’s sick of magic. Sick of the trouble it brings, sick of its dangerous grip on Crispin and the miserable look it puts in his eyes, and sick of being afraid that a gentleman magician won’t want a street paper-seller forever—or even for much longer.
But something is stirring among London’s forgotten discards. An ancient evil is waking up and seeking its freedom. And when wild magic hits the rag-and-bottle shop where Ned lives, a panicking Crispin falls back onto bad habits. The embattled lovers must find a way to work together—or London could go up in flames.
I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I haven't yet had the chance to read the rest of this series, but I hoped when I picked this book up that it wouldn't matter. Rag and Bone is a full-length side story that is set in the same amazing world as the other books, but with different main characters. Luckily, I was right. Rag and Bone no doubt draws heavily on what has happened in the previous books. There were references to things that happened that I had no idea what they were talking about, and some of the main characters from the other books in the series do have cameos, but the plot, the magic, and the love story are all completely autonomous. However, this is the second book in this side story. The first, A Queer Trade, was originally published as part of the Charmed and Dangerous anthology (review to come) and to understand much of Rag and Bone you do need to read that one first.
The most fascinating thing about this book is the magic. Crispin was once a practitioner of dark magic, but is trying to go straight by learning how to do magic lawfully. His attempts continue to fail and when push comes to shove he falls back on his blood magic. Charles gave form to the magic both as a substance that can be used, but also described how Crispin personally saw it. That insight was emotional, physical, and magical all tied together in a way that made me wish as hard as Crispin that he could figure it all out. Every single moment of the book was expertly woven the exact same way, with each character's emotions battling fiercely with everything that was happening to them.
I also really appreciated how much diversity this book embraced. One of the main characters is black, there are Jews involved in the governing of magic, there are class differences, and even different types of romantic pairings. It was all handled perfectly with an eye kept to the historical times, yet with a care that showed how little it mattered that those differences existed to the people that mattered. I thought it was as beautifully crafted as the rest of the book.
I loved the magic and the emotional weight each character brought to the book. I also really appreciated the diversity the book embraced. Recommending this book is therefore easy to do.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.