I wasn’t really sure what to expect with Lisa Maxwell’s The Last Magician (The Last Magician, #1). I had heard many good things about the book and the premise sounded very interesting, but I was never fully hyped on reading it. However, I’m glad that I did as it turned out to be an interesting read with quite a cast of characters.
Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.
In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.
Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.
But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.
Maxwell’s writing style is very straightforward. There’s no use of flowery prose to mask the plot here, which as you all know, I really appreciate. Flowery prose can be very hit or miss and I feel that it would have done a disservice to this book. This story is very plot driven with a lot of bouncing around between characters. I will say that it took some time for it to really build up, as the first quarter of the book is just a build up for all of the characters. It does start off a little slow and took me a while to really get into the story.
We really have two main characters with one being Esta, a time traveling thief with a no-nonsense attitude and doesn’t appreciate being told what to do. She is very stubborn and will do just about anything to complete her mission. Then there is Darrington, a talented Mageus with a troubled past that he’s trying to run from. His relationship with Esta is full of tension from the very moment they first meet, sexually and personality-wise. I loved watching them struggle to take control of each other. They’re both super stubborn and working towards their own personal goals, so it was always fun when they would butt heads. There was also a really large cast of supporting characters, each with their own personality and backstory that was really fleshed out so you could see why they would make the choices that they did.
I would say that my biggest issues with this book was the slow beginning and the complicated world-building. I very rarely struggle to understand the world in which a book is set in, but it took me the majority of this book to really understand the history of Mageus and their struggle against the Order. I feel like there was a lack of explanation that would’ve been very helpful early on in the story, even a little prologue with a history lesson. Instead, we are immediately thrown into this world knowing there’s a struggle between the two, but no real reason as to why. It seemed like we were not really given this backstory until late in the book. I think Maxwell missed an opportunity to really flesh out the setting, focusing on the city itself and not the background.
Overall this was an enjoyable book and I do plan to continue with the series, as I really want to see how Esta’s story ends after that cliffhanger ending. While there were some flaws to the story, it was still entertaining. If you enjoy fantasy and historical fiction, I think this book will interest you as it does weave the two together really well.
Final Verdict: 3/5 Stars
Have you read The Last Magician? Did you struggle to understand the history between the Order and the Mageus? Did you enjoy the book? Have you read the sequel?