First, the caveat: I got this book from Netgalley.
I’m a fan of Jennifer Estep’s writing. I’ll start with that. Cold Burn of Magic is first in a new YA series. Now I have to admit, I often don’t care as much for the YA series because they are a little too young for me. They deal with stuff that I’m long past and while they are good, it’s about 50-50 that the book will grab me. Exceptions include Robin LeFevers’ His Fair Assassin series, and now, Cold Burn of Magic. Not that it won’t appeal to its intended audience, but just that it appeals to me, too.
I thought the world was really cool. It’s a mix of modern and medieval, but it totally makes sense. There’s cool magic and a cool mythology. In the town, you’ve got open magic, and people with magic have unique talents, some more unique than others. The town is run by mob families and there’s a lot of danger. (For those of you who’ve read my Diamond City Magic books, you’ll smile at that familiarity). Anyhow, the story revolves around Lila Merriweather who is a teenaged thief and weapons expert who’s been living off the proverbial grid for four years since she left the foster care system. Her mother was murdered, and she’s alone, except for Mo, a friend and pawnshop broker.
Lila gets involved with a mob family and gets roped into a working as a bodyguard. The family is under attack, and so things quickly progress from there.
I really enjoyed the characters. The teens were believable, and so were the adults. Lila was a well-written character, and likeable. Oscar, the redneck, cowboy fairy, was absolutely awesome. Claudia, the head of the Sinclair family, was a lovely mix of loyalty and ruthlessness. The roots of romance were established, as well as a Romeo and Juliet situation. Nothing was resolved in the romantic department, and I think that will be fun to see play out.
I read the book quickly and didn’t want to put it down. I really loved the worldbuilding, the interplay between the characters, and the development of Lila. She had angst, but totally believable and not annoying. She made mistakes, but never fell into the too-stupid-to-live category. She had to make unforgiving choices. The mystery is good, and while I suspected the bad guy, there were twists that I didn’t see. The bridge seen was well foreshadowed, maybe too well, but it was necessary, I think.
I totally recommend this book. It was fun and I’ve already preordered the next one. I hope there is more of the wild world in the next one, and I know we’ll see more of the dangers of the mob families. I look forward to seeing the relationships develop, and not just the romantic ones. The other relationships are compelling and fraught and so well done.
I’d give this a 4/4 stars for me. I would totally recommend this book and I plan to encourage my son to read it.