In Gelia City, magic is music: a constant ever-changing melody known as the strains. Hereditary ability to use the strains divides the city into two classes: the wealthy Highmost, who can access the full potential of the strains, and the common tradesmen, who are limited to mundane spells, known as beggar magic. With the help of the strains, common teen Leilani rescues and befriends a gifted Highmost girl, Zebedy. The girls' friendship opens Leilani's eyes to the world of the Highmost. She's intrigued by Zeb's close relationship with the strains, and longs to know them as she does. Zeb, in turn, comes to depend on Leilani's strength and intelligence, making them an inseparable team, ready to take on anything with the strains at their back. As their unlikely friendship strengthens and endures, Zeb draws Leilani further into the Highmosts' intrigues. Beneath the polished, academic facade of the Highmost manors lurks a threat to the strains. An unknown force consumes their music, leaving only heart-rending silence behind. Leilani and Zeb will do anything to save their beloved strains, but as the silence grows, they face danger their previously sheltered lives could never prepare them for. Whoever is behind the death of the strains is willing to kill to keep their secret safe. To preserve the strains, the girls may have to sacrifice their friendship, or even their lives.
©2014 H. L. Burke (P)2016 H. L. Burke
I really admired Leilani, because she was so down to earth, especially compared to her friend Zebedy. She never settled for anything she didn't want, and she never let anyone walk over her in the slightest (a trait she tries to imbue in Zebedy).
I thought the narrator's voice was fairly unique, and she had a strong grasp on the individual characters' voices. Zebedy in particular stood out--the breathy, words-tumbling-out-of-her-mouth sentences, and, of course, the snark.
The story itself is really well written (and told). Even before the main conflict arises, I was drawn in to the unique setting--the type of magic they use is a completely new idea to me.
Beggar Magic was unlike any book I've ever read. It started out a little slow as Leilani and Zeb met and got to know each other, but right from the start I was fascinated by the idea of the Strains and the social classes in the world Burke created. Once the mystery of the disappearing Strains entered the picture, I was completely drawn in. The authentic, sometimes sweet, sometimes tense, friendship between Leilani and Zeb was one of the highlights of this book for me. I also enjoyed the development of their respective love interests :) The narrator's style fell a little flat for me at times, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story. I would highly recommend this story for fans of fantasy with unique world-building.
*I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this audiobook.*
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