It’s 2065. Those born with magic abilities live in government-run zones, without rights or freedoms. Fear of magic created this segregated world and fear keeps it intact.
A high-profile murder brings Detective Nathan Perez to Magic Born Zone 13. He’s had little experience with the Magic Born and isn’t sure what to expect during his first encounter with a witch, but he never thought he’d be so drawn to her.
Trancehacker Calla Vesper uses magic to break into computers and aid the Magic Born underground. She has no interest in helping a cop, even if he is smoking-hot, but money’s tight and Nate offers a tidy amount for help navigating the Zone. Calla’s determined to keep it all business, but sparks start flying before the investigation even gets started.
When Calla’s trancehacking and Nathan’s investigation uncover a conspiracy, Calla becomes a target. Nate can protect her by keeping her role a secret—but then who will protect Nate?
*Blurb from Goodreads*
As I was reading this month’s Dear Reader letter in the front of every Carina Press book, I came across Angela James’ description for this book and was immediately hooked. The different world that sounded so unique was enough to pull me in and send me to NetGalley, looking for this book.
Calla has unique magical abilities: she can manipulate any kind of technology. It’s the kind of skill that will make her an outcast among her fellow witches, so she keeps it as secret as possible. When Normal Detective Perez comes snooping around the zone looking for information on a murder, Calla finds herself drawn to him – in ways she never imagined she would feel about a non Magic-born.
Nate is new to the city and the zone. Being put on a murder investigation that is all kinds of screwed up is stressful. Having to go into the zone to search for clues is even more so, until he meets Calla. Nate doesn’t care about magic or not, and although he needs Calla’s help to solve the murder, he is also captivated by her. But as the secrets of the investigation unfold, a conspiracy involving Calla, a Senator, and an innocent man will come crashing down around them.
Let me just start by saying this book has one of the coolest worlds I’ve ever read in paranormal romance. I love the fact that the world is totally screwed up, that the “normal” humans have rounded up all of those with magical abilities and thrown them into urban slums, gating them off and treating them like cattle. They have extra laws they have to live by, are stripped of their basic rights, and are forced to live as sub-humans. I hope that this will continue as a series, and at the end of it, the witches have their own uprising!
For me, there was a lot of really awesome world-building in this book, but the romance fell horribly flat. I never really felt the connection between Nate and Calla. Other than some sex, these two didn’t really seem to have any chemistry. Calla was constantly fretting over the fact that Nate was normal and they wouldn’t be able to have a future. She let it interfere with everything, and because of it I never really felt like she took the time to get to know or care about Nate as a man. Likewise, Nate was so wrapped up in solving the case and convincing Calla that they could find a way to be together, there wasn’t time for anything else. I felt like they never really wholly committed to each other, instead they just kind of settled for what it was.
As individual characters, I like Nate and Calla. I thought they both had a lot of promise. I liked finding out about the work that Calla was putting in to help magic-born and normals alike get out from underneath the stringent and oppressive laws. I wish that aspect of the world would have been explored more, because I think it really could have added so much depth and intensity to the bleak future that is expected for magic-born. I liked the fact that Nate could care less about those with magic abilities. I liked that his morals and conscious kept him following the murder investigation, despite the fact that he was told to drop it.
Another aspect that seemed to fall somewhat flat for me was the murder investigation. While it seemed interesting at first, it seemed to kind of run out of steam as the book went on. It became somewhat predictable and while I could appreciate the way it all worked out, it just didn’t work for me because I thought that plot thread had the ability to be so much more.
All in all I really enjoyed Clark’s world, and hope that she takes the time to explore it deeper, flush out more of the injustices and work toward creating a better way of life for the magic born. While I also liked both our hero and heroine, I wish that their romance would have had more chemistry, more development.
I give Trancehack a C+