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.
Summary: Leilani and Zebedy overcome the cast differences to become fast friends and become embroiled in a mystery that
What I didn’t like:
- The narration was okay overall, but Zeb’s voice in particular sounded like a perpetually whiny 10-yr-old child.
- Repeated use of “strains” as an expression. (“strains this” and “oh strains that” … at one pt I believe there was even an “oh, strains, the Strains can be…” expression)
- There were a few plot points that didn’t seem to add much yet detracted from “kid appeal.” Generally, the story’s suitable for middle grade.
- The characters whine, a lot.
- The book had a little trouble picking a mood. It started as a “girls from opposite worlds come together as friends tale” then morphed into a “Nancy Drew-like mystery” then turned into a teen romance and finally wrapped up as a feel-good “let’s fix our broken world” story.
- Title’s unique but doesn’t really capture the story.
What I liked:
- Brick. (Can’t say much more without spoilers.)
- The tiffs that happen between the friends are well done.
- The world-building was unique. The idea of magic being music is very interesting. I don’t think that aspect was as developed as it could be because one of the main characters was somebody who had trouble accessing it.
- The ending contained a few neat twists. Some of them were a little too “convenient” but as a whole, the last hour was highly satisfying.
- The characters are likeable.
- The writing is high quality.
Conclusion: It’s definitely a worthwhile read.
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Who was your favorite character and why?
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).
What does Sheri Sheridan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
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.
Any additional comments?
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.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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.*