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Publisher's Summary

There is a dark secret that is hiding at the heart of New York City and diminishing the city's magicians' power in this fantasy thriller by acclaimed author Kat Howard.

In New York City, magic controls everything. But the power of magic is fading. No one knows what is happening except for Sydney - a new, rare magician with incredible power that has been unmatched in decades, and she may be the only person who is able to stop the darkness that is weakening the magic. But Sydney doesn't want to help the system; she wants to destroy it.

Sydney comes from the House of Shadows, which controls the magic with the help of sacrifices from magicians.

©2017 Kat Howard (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Hero without any real challenges

First - the world itself is an interesting take on magic, though the rules and applications of magic aren’t dived in too deeply

Second - the dialogue is frequently awkward and stilted

Third - the heroine of the story rampages through the book like a bull in a china shop. She has no real challenges, and her hardest struggles were behind here. It made the stakes of the book surprisingly low.

There are a few interesting characters, but most of them are flat to give all the room to Sydney

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Very dark magic, indeed

Imagine a world where magic is everywhere but most people don't see it. Feels fairly typical, doesn't it. Like any of a host of fictional landscapes where the fantastic and the mundane are side-by-side, but only those with special powers are fully aware. Such stories are usually often largely bright and cheery, and often driven forward by non-adult characters. And should the tale stray into darkness the conflict is often resolved by the triumph of good (think Harry Potter and its predecessors). The darkness, is there and important, but not typically overwhelming. You get some excellently crafted stories that skew a bit older and a bit more serious, like Lev Grossman's "The Magicians" (which I am embarrassed to admit I have yet to finish), with magic as a costly thing, requiring serious study and perseverance, and plots that cannot neatly resolve into good versus evil.

Kat Howard's "An Unkindness of Magicians" takes place in a world where the fantastic and mundane are side-by-side, but also intertwined at certain points. Those who are not part of the magical world are largely unawares. And those within the world are movers and shakers in both realms, where house affiliation and individual power are just another way to measure influence and strength. And the magic in this world can be both wonderful and terrible, and there is always a price to pay.

The main character of the story is Sydney, who shows up on the scene in New York just as the magical world is about to undergo a Turning. Turning typically take place about every generation and during the Turning the power structure and hierarchy are in flux. Houses choose champions, challengers make their moves, and new houses can be born. Through this magical and political intrigue, we are introduced to the world and slowly uncover the workings of magic. And what makes the magic in this book stand out is that it is suffused with suffering and cruelty, and the costs for using the magic are not equally meted out.

There are times the dialog feels stilted, and I think the book could have used more length to explore certain characters and the world's workings more fully. It does not feel set up for other entries, so I'm sorry to see that my questions won't be answered and a fuller history of the world (not to mention its future) is forthcoming. But an interesting book where the magic takes place in an urban setting, the players are adults, and the consequences both bloody and sobering.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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amazing

I loved this book. I can also see why Neil Gaiman enjoyed it. the book has a wonderful magic system and is very immersive.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Tried too hard

This book tried too hard to be a good story. I wanted to like it more but there was too much crammed in to feel for the characters