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Review: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Publisher: Kensington
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Where did you get the book: e-ARC from publisher
Release date: Out now

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.

Cold Burn of Magic cover image 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. . .

*blurb taken from Goodreads*

Jennifer Estep writes fun and engaging YA books with a great mixture of action, friendships, and romantic elements. I was a big fan of the Mythos Academy series (which reminds me–I need to finish reading the series as I’m a few books behind) and she’s definitely got another winning series here in the Black Blade books.

The Cold Burn of Magic has a wonderful setting and premise with the most popular tourist town catering towards all kinds of magical beings; be it monsters, humans, or magicks with Talents. Lila is a magick, capable of Talents. Talents could exist of speed, strength, fire, or ice. There are other much more obscure Talents too, especially the heroine’s Talent. Cloudburst Falls, West Virginia, is where the story takes place. There’s a lovely description of the mountain and there is some lovely visual imagery of the bustling tourist town itself and where the mansions of the Families are dotted around Cloudburst mountain like bright stars.

The Families are feudal and they run Cloudburst Falls. They act like mobs with the locals paying part of their earnings and proceeds to the Families for protection in helping ward off the monsters that inhabit Cloudburst Falls. The Draconis family are at the top of the Family food-chain. They’re the most ruthless and dangerous and everyone fears them. The Sinclairs are their rivals and they’re dangerous in their own right, but they’re not evil. Lila is a professional thief and she’s very good at job. While she goes to a mortal school in the day, at night she does jobs for Mo, her sort of guardian, who runs the Razzle Dazzle pawnshop. She takes these jobs and looks out for herself and only herself in a dangerous world that took away her mother in a brutal murder. Lila’s very solitary life changes when she meets Devon Sinclair, son of Claudia Sinclair, head of the Sinclair Family, and saves his life.

I really liked the worldbuilding set inside Cold Burn of Magic. Info dumping can be tricky to get right. The author did a good job in spreading the information throughout the book. Some of the names for the hierarchy in the Families came across a little forced (bruiser, broker, and butler) so I hope it becomes more natural sounding as the series progresses.

Lila is a young heroine who has a lot of anger aimed at way things are run in Cloudburst Falls, especially the Families. She’s got a very defensive personality which is understandable, but how Lila views her life and other people do change throughout the course of the book. While she is forced into the employment of the Sinclair family, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t make friendships along the way. Devon is obviously going to be the love interest and end-game for Lila (though I could be wrong). He and Lila have history that ties them strongly together and it fed into Lila’s anger. Lila is hard on Devon at times but a connection and friendship does brew into existence, though it’s not an easy one. Not like her friendship with Felix, who is a lighter character that brings humour and lightness and Lila can easily converse with him. There are some very fun moments in this book, such as Tiny the tortoise whose owner is the very snarky and cowboy boots wearing Pixie named Oscar, who is assigned to Lila.

The evil baddie in the book is the weakest aspect because I guessed who he was halfway. While the scenes themselves had great action, I wasn’t a huge fan of the dialogue at times between the villain and Lila because it did come across as a little cheesy and the villain didn’t have that much depth to him. But like in the Mythos series, while Cold Burn of Magic has a conclusion, it also sets up a furthering story arc and this is where Jennifer Estep shines. I can’t wait for the second book in the series, Dark Heart of Magic, to be released to see how Lila develops as a character and where her relationship with Devon and the Sinclair family takes her.

I give Cold Burn of Magic a B

By Lou

One thing that Lou loves most is her HEA in romances.

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