While trapped in a stalled subway train on his morning commute, PR rep Byron Cole flirts with Levi, a young waiter with adorable curls. But Byron’s hopes for romance crash and burn when Levi saves him from a brutal explosion—with outlawed magic.
When Levi is imprisoned, Byron begins to question everything he’s ever believed. How can magic be evil when Levi used it to save dozens of lives? So Byron hatches a plan to save Levi that will cost him his job and probably his life. If he doesn’t pull it off, Levi will be put to death.
Byron must convince Levi to trust him, to trust his own magic, and to fight against the hatred that’s forced him to hide his true nature his entire life. The more Levi opens up, the harder Byron falls. And the more they have to lose.
Ooo boy, is this book timely. In a world very much like our own magic is a real thing. Not everyone can use it, and those who can are forced to register with the government and are vilified by the public. (See that? Yup.)
Bryon works for the company that confines mages and believes the party line until he meets Levi, who saves his life with a well placed magical shield. Bryon wrapping his brain around this new information is one of my favorite parts of the book. We watch him struggle with long held beliefs, do his best to open his mind, and become friends with people he formerly would have brushed aside. The process takes time and feels right.
Brisby’s New York is delightfully rooted in the reality of our own, and I appreciate that the medical details are (to my knowledge) accurate. The friendships are especially satisfying, maybe even more than the insta-romance that pops up.
The world building is good early on but, like the plot, it loses steam. I would have liked more info about the history of mage suppression or theories on where the magic comes from and why only some people can use it. A lot gets swept under the rug with ‘it’s outlawed, so we don’t know’ which works in the beginning but gets frustrating as the story goes on. In a similar vein the ending left me with some unanswered questions as well as doubts that everything could have changed so quickly. And if you like your allegory subtle this is anything but.
Still, I enjoyed Rogue Magic. A diverse, escapist urban fantasy that manages to both address and take my mind off of current events? I’m here for that.
Thanks to Riptide Publishing and NetGalley for providing a review copy.