Series: A Charm of Magpies #3
Published by Samhain Publishing Genres: Alternate Worlds, Gay
Reviewed by Cassie
Stephen Day is understandably stressed out. His partner at the justiciary has had to take time off due to a pregnancy. Due to the understaffing, he’s called to work constantly, putting a strain on his relationship with Lord Crane. The young girl they were supposed to be training is headstrong and reckless—and may have stolen something very important to Stephen. Add in a series of horrifying and inexplicable magical murders, and he’s at the end of his rope.
Crane isn’t faring much better. He hates England and its prudish, restrictive laws. He’s tired of coming second (or lower) on Stephen’s list of priorities. Hearing that Stephen has been keeping secrets from him only makes things worse. With enemies coming out of the woodwork, his relationship with Stephen may be the least of Crane’s worries.
Flight of Magpies is another action-packed, atmospheric, and intriguing tale in the Charm of Magpies series. Book One hooked me, and the subsequent books have done the same. The world Stephen and Crane live in is dark, brutal, and unpredictable. Anyone could have magical abilities, and quite a few people use them for the wrong reasons.
As a justiciar, Stephen is basically one of the magic police. It’s his job to make sure practitioners do not misuse their abilities. It’s a thankless job. Ordinary people either don’t know about justiciars or distrust him and the normal police hate his kind. The bureaucrats running the justiciary keep cutting the staff, putting more and more pressure on the few who remain. When someone starts murdering policemen in hideous, inexplicable ways, Stephen’s pretty much the only man who can find out what’s happening. Despite knowing his lover, Lord Crane, wants more time with him and hates the dangers of his job, Stephen takes the case. It doesn’t take long to figure out that magic is involved.
Lord Crane never expected to be a lord. His life in China was both lucrative and free. Coming to England to claim an unexpected inheritance was inconvenient, and almost led to his death, but because he met Stephen he sees the experience as tolerable. For Stephen, he’s willing to remain in a country he hates. Though he chafes under the restrictions, he tries to be discreet about their relationship. He hangs on, hoping Stephen will agree to leave the country with him someday—or at least work less. Stephen’s insistence on working the magical murder case is only the first in a series of events that will test Crane’s devotion.
Flight of Magpies is one of those books that does not let up from start to finish. There’s tension at every turn, from the deterioration of Stephen and Crane’s relationship to the murders. KJ Charles does an excellent job balancing worldbuilding and magical horror with romance. Each element has its place, and none overtake the story. By the end, Stephen, Lord Crane, and their friends have come full circle in a very satisfying way.
Fans of pure romance or readers with weak stomachs may want to avoid this series, as there are some truly gruesome scenes. However, I recommend Flight of Magpies and the preceding books to anyone who is looking for something different and likes a bit of horror and magic with their romance.