Release: November 20th 2018
I received a copy of City of Broken Magic through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
City of Magic is Mirah Bolender’s debut fantasy novel. If you’re looking for a new fantasy author to follow, you might seriously want to consider her. As for City of Broken Magic, think magic meets tech, but in a steampunk world, and you’ve got the core idea. In my mind I was picturing the setting as being sort of 1920s-esque, which felt right, considering some of the circumstances and the way they reacted to certain characters.
I should tell you that I actually ended up reading City of Broken Magic twice before I actually sat down to write this review. I read it the first time so quickly I basically inhaled it, so I had to go back for a second round, you know, to be sure I got all the details.
It probably goes without saying that I got immediately wrapped up into the plot of this story. I love the world that Bolender has built us. It’s beautiful, dark, and enchanting. I had no problems visualizing the city or the little details she mentions throughout.
Likewise I loved all the characters. Laura is the main perspective, and being that she’s new to the job of being a sweeper, she’s the excuse for explaining basic parts of the city and magic to us. It worked really well. More than that though, Laura is a driven woman. She’s come up against great odds to get the job she wanted, but she never once hesitated, and I respect that. I feel like if more of us had a drive like hers we’d be hunting down the jobs we love with everything we have. More than that though, she’s compassionate. She sees the city at its worst, and yet for her it’s never ‘just another Tuesday.’ You can tell that she sincerely feels pain anytime there’s loss of life. But it won’t drown her, not Laura. If anything it’ll just motivate her to work harder. Actually, there’s quite a lot that motivates her to work harder. No wonder she’s so good at her job.
Clae is the opposite of Laura. He’s gruff, stubborn (okay, that they have in common) and he’s experienced in the job. He pretends that nothing gets to him anymore, but Laura was pretty sure that’s a façade, and I tend to agree with her on this one. I really do believe he was the best instructor for Laura though. His lack of praise drove her to try even harder, and her skills quickly became vital to the story and city.
Both characters were dramatically different from one another, but Bolender successfully used the situations they were up against to make us care about them, and the situations they were in, that much more. The introduction of a third character only enhanced that effect. It was wonderfully done.
As for the magic system itself…I love it. It’s a unique way of looking at it. All magic is based off of items, but those items are exceptionally vulnerable to attack and corruption. It’s elegant, really. It’s a power source and a threat all in one. Talk about efficient writing! Seriously though, the system fascinated me, and I really hope there’s a sequel in this series so I can learn more about it.
There were so many iconic moments during City of Broken Magic. I have no doubt that I’ll be remembering them for quite some time. I actually couldn’t tell you which part was my favorite. Though obviously there were a few scenes towards the end that were particularly striking. And emotional. I’m still reeling from a couple of those parts. I may just never recover (okay, that’s a slight exaggeration).
I haven’t heard anything about a sequel yet, but I’ll be eagerly awaiting any news on that front. I need to find out what happens next! I can’t wait to see what Bolender comes up with next. Truth be told, as much as I’d like to see a sequel, I don’t think I’d complain if she wrote something else instead. I love her writing style enough to take what she writes without complaint.