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Review – Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1) by Jennifer Estep

Cold Burn of Magic cover image

Publisher: Kensington
Publish Date: Out now
Reviewed by: E
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

There Be Monsters Here. . .

It’s not as great as you’d think, living in a tourist town that’s known as “the most magical place in America.” Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I’ve got my mom’s bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend’s pawn shop, and I have to make a call–get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn’t. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I’m stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I’m going to end up just like her. . .
This blurb came from Goodreads

I am a huge fan of Estep’s paranormal writing and loved her previous YA series Mythos Academy. So when I found out she was starting her Black Blade series and it was paranormal YA there was no way I could resist giving the first one, Cold Burn of Magic, a try. When I finished reading I had two immediate thoughts. First, I wanted to know how soon I would be able to get my hands on the next book. And then I marveled at how it seemed Estep took the elements I loved from her other paranormal series and brought them together here.

Estep created a rather complex world even through this first story seems to be centered on mainly one general area. Between the characters, the intrigue, the politics, magic, and the supernatural creatures I did not feel as if things were constrained. There is a town at the base of a mountain known for its supernatural beings. Like most places known for a certain thing, it became a tourist town complete with cheap venders, souvenirs, scams, tours, thieves, and power brokers. Power was unevenly split between several different families as they moved between alliances, subterfuge, and open warfare in an attempt to gain more power. Unfortunately, the power struggles between families had a nasty habit of spilling over onto the locals and offshoots of the primary families. Their feuding cost Lila both a settled home life and then her mother leaving her with a deep mistrust and almost hatred of the Families and their habits. Then in a moment of impetuous empathy, she cames to the rescue of a young man and was dragged into the center of attention.

As the story progressed, I learned a lot about Lila and exactly how ruthless the Families could be. I loved how she gave as much as she was forced to take even as she started to see Devon, his cousin, and a few others as individuals trapped by their parents’ ambitions and what has become tradition. Although, I was left wondering if perhaps a revolution might be in the making **crosses fingers**. I also really enjoyed seeing more into Estep’s new world and the variety of creatures, myths, and personalities who populate it. Lila was good at certain things but she wasn’t infallible and had her share of faults so I found her likeable despite her best efforts at keeping everyone away. Seeing her reaction when she realized that others did care for, like, and worry about her was very revealing and showed just how alone she had been for much of her teen years.

The Sinclair family was facing vicious opposition from a multitude of fronts. Most obvious was their direct rival family but somehow family members continued to be attacked by multiple opponents working for a mystery man who didn’t seem to have a logical family affiliation. The most frequent target happened to be Devon Sinclair so when Lila intervened and saved his life, she became the most logical person to continue saving his life. Well that and eat all of their bacon.

I found the twists in Cold Burn of Magic ivery fascinating. I didn’t guess who one of the threats was until the main characters found out which was wonderful. I also loved how Lila used her brain, her skills, and her environment to manage to survive certain situations even if it wasn’t unscathed. While Lila was able to solve a few problems, I don’t think the Sinclairs are home free and I am worried that Lila has really come to the attention of those craving power. I really can’t wait for the next installment. Estep has again created a YA series that I think will be added to my keepers shelf.

I give Cold Burn of Magic an A

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By E_booklover

E is addicted to books. She discovered at an early age that not only were they her transport to far off worlds, adventures, and exotic cultures, but that she ran into far fewer objects if she walked while reading then if she wasn't reading. She reads across several genres, such as: romance, western,mystery, SF/F and its derivatives. She isn't too picky except for good characterization, settings she can imagine, and a story that flows logically... umm so ok -- she wants a good story. Have any to recommend?

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