Series: A Charm of Magpies

FLIGHT OF THE MAGPIES by K. J. Charles

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.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Source: Publisher
FLIGHT OF THE MAGPIES by K. J. CharlesFlight of the Magpies by K. J. Charles
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.

A CASE OF POSSESSION by K. J. Charles

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.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Source: Publisher
A CASE OF POSSESSION by K. J. CharlesA Case of Possession by K. J. Charles
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.

THE MAGPIE LORD by K. J. Charles

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.

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Source: Publisher
THE MAGPIE LORD by K. J. CharlesThe Magpie Lord by K. J. Charles
Series: A Charm of Magpies #1
Published by Samhain Publishing on 2013-09-03
Genres: Fantasy, Gay
Reviewed by Cassie

A lord in danger. A magician in turmoil. A snowball in hell. Exiled to China for twenty years, Lucien Vaudrey never planned to return to England. But with the mysterious deaths of his father and brother, it seems the new Lord Crane has inherited an earldom. He’s also inherited his family’s enemies. He needs magical assistance, fast. He doesn’t expect it to turn up angry. Magician Stephen Day has good reason to hate Crane’s family. Unfortunately, it’s his job to deal with supernatural threats. Besides, the earl is unlike any aristocrat he’s ever met, with the tattoos, the attitude...and the way Crane seems determined to get him into bed. That’s definitely unusual. Soon Stephen is falling hard for the worst possible man, at the worst possible time. But Crane’s dangerous appeal isn’t the only thing rendering Stephen powerless. Evil pervades the house, a web of plots is closing round Crane, and if Stephen can’t find a way through it—they’re both going to die. Warning: Contains hot m/m sex between a deeply inappropriate earl and a very confused magician, dark plots in a magical version of Victorian England, family values (not the good kind), and a lot of swearing.

Lucien Vaudrey, Lord Crane, never intended to return to England. He was content in China, despite having been exiled there by his father. When he is forced to return to his family’s country home to deal with his inheritance of the earldom after the deaths of his father and brother, Crane finds out he’s inherited more than property and a title. Someone wants him dead, by means of dark magic.

When a magician has to be called in to deal with the problem, Stephen Day is the man they get. He has his own reasons for hating the Vaudreys, but his strong professional ethics force him to help solve Crane’s problem. While working to save Crane’s life, Stephen finds that the man is nothing like his father and brother. An attraction springs up between them.

Can Stephen get to the bottom of the magical riddle before dark magic destroys them both?

The Magpie Lord is a fascinating mix of history and magic that combines to form an intriguing fantasy world. Crane and Stephen live in what seems to be England in the 1800s. Everything in the story is normal and expected—except that magic is real. Magicians, shamans, witches, and warlocks exist, some working for good and some for their own gain. Curses cause real physical harm. Spells can influence people. That one small twist to reality is all it took to make the setting seem like a whole new world. KJ Charles did a very good job with the world-building, and with creating a menacing atmosphere at Crane’s ancestral home.

I also really liked the characters. Lucien Vaudrey is a rakish sort of man. He makes no apologies for his past, his business concerns (most of which were definitely not things noblemen ought to be involved in), or his attitude toward society in general. He’s also a good man who wants to do the right thing when he can and not be like his cruel, manipulative father and brother. Stephen Day is quite a contrast to Crane. He’s short, not of noble birth, and he makes his living helping others with magical problems. He’s a very honorable man with a very good reason to have a grudge against the Vaudreys, yet his sense of honor forces him to help Crane. Soon enough he realizes that he’s judged the man unfairly. He also realizes he’s drawn to the man. 

Unfortunately for Crane and Stephen, their interest in each other has to take a backseat to solving the mystery of who wants Crane dead. This aspect of the story is not for the faint of heart, as the mystery is full of twists and turns, terrible family secrets, and horrifying confrontations. A few scenes were pretty gory and disturbing, which didn’t bother me but might bother some readers. Personally, I thought the creepiness of those scenes only added to the world Ms. Charles created. Crane and Stephen must travel, navigate the minefield that is English society, and face frightening truths in order to find the culprits. Anyone who’s looking for something new and different with a historical flavor should pick up The Magpie Lord. It’s a truly unique book, and I can’t wait for the next entry in the series. 

Header Banner by Nit_Witty Copyright © 2014
Joyfully Reviewed
Site Design, Graphics & Maintenance
by Miranda Grissom