I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: A Charm of Magpies #2
Published by Samhain Publishing on 2014-01-28
Genres: Gay, Paranormal
Reviewed by Cassie
Magic in the blood. Danger in the streets. A Charm of Magpies, Book 2Lord Crane has never had a lover quite as elusive as Stephen Day. True, Stephen’s job as justiciar requires secrecy, but the magician’s disappearing act bothers Crane more than it should. When a blackmailer threatens to expose their illicit relationship, Crane knows a smart man would hop the first ship bound for China. But something unexpectedly stops him. His heart. Stephen has problems of his own. As he investigates a plague of giant rats sweeping London, his sudden increase in power, boosted by his blood-and-sex bond with Crane, is rousing suspicion that he’s turned warlock. With all eyes watching him, the threat of exposure grows. Stephen could lose his friends, his job and his liberty over his relationship with Crane. He’s not sure if he can take that risk much longer. And Crane isn’t sure if he can ask him to. The rats are closing in, and something has to give...Warning: Contains m/m sex (on desks), blackmail, dark pasts, a domineering earl, a magician on the edge, vampire ghosts (possibly), and the giant rats of Sumatra.
Lucien Vaudrey, Lord Crane, is settling into life in England better than he expected. The curse that caused the death of his father and brother, and almost ended his life as well, has been lifted. He’s never been more intrigued than he is by his elusive lover, justiciar Stephen Day. He still chafes at the restrictions of England, and sometimes he misses life in China, but overall things are going well. Then a blackmailer shows up, threatening to expose him and Stephen. Although he doesn’t care about his own reputation, Stephen’s must be protected at all costs.
Blackmail is the least of Stephen Day’s concerns. As a justiciar, he must protect people from misuses of magic—something he himself is suddenly suspected of due to his magical bond with Crane. He doesn’t want to lose his lover, but with the threat of exposure hanging over them, it might be the only choice. On top of that, giant rats have invaded the city, killing several people. Stephen has to juggle keeping his relationship with Crane a secret, proving he hasn’t turned warlock, and finding out who sent the rats…if they don’t get him first.
I really can’t say enough about the creativity of the Charm of Magpies series. The Magpie Lord was enthralling and inventive, and A Case of Possession carries on in the same vein. The world-building continues to draw me in. In this installment, many of Crane’s old China cohorts figure heavily into the story, along with bits of the culture of the Chinese practitioners, referred to as shamans. This adds another layer to the already intriguing world of England-of-the-past-plus-magic. The rules and inner workings of the justiciars are explained more as well.
Another wonderful aspect of A Case of Possession is the insight it gives into Lucien Vaudrey’s character. He’s a ruthless man, yet ethical in his own way. He prefers to follow his own sense of right and wrong rather than the letter of the law. He’s also arrogant and a bit vain. To see him tied in knots over plain, poor Stephen Day was both amusing and touching. He’s finally come to realize how deeply he feels for Stephen, and that’s difficult for a man who’s never had any romantic ties of any kind. Watching him do whatever he could to help Stephen, regardless of the cost, raised my estimation of him.
Stephen cares just as much for Crane, but shows it differently. With all the pressures put on him, he’s afraid to let himself love. He’s also determined to fight his own battles, and to keep his relationship with Crane a secret to protect them both. In A Case of Possession, Stephen’s job as a justiciar once again figures prominently. The case this time is murder by giant, magical rat, and it’s a tough one to crack. I won’t go into detail so as not to spoil the storyline, but before all is said and done, murder, mayhem, and magic will change the lives of all the characters.
The plot of A Case of Possession is suspenseful, twist-filled, emotional at times, and definitely not for the faint of heart. Readers with a low tolerance for the horrific might want to exercise caution. Some parts are rather gory, and there was one scene in particular that bothered me despite happening off-screen. There were quite a few times when I was on the edge of my seat, unable to stop reading. Action, mystery, fantasy, suspense, and romance all blend together seamlessly here. Anyone looking for something different should definitely pick up the Charm of Magpies series. Creativity, genre-blending, nonstop action, and great characters make both The Magpie Lord and A Case of Possession well worth a read.