Friday, January 12, 2018

Review: The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

Title: The Last Magician 
Author: Lisa Maxwell
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: July 18, 2017
Format: Hardback 

Page Count: 500


Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future.

In modern-day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past. (taken from

But then, liars do make the best magicians, and he happened to be exceptional. 

*cracks knuckles* Alright, I hope you guys are ready for a wild ride because this review is full of contradictions, mixed emotions, and scrambled thoughts. But let's be honest: most of my reviews are.

Anyway, The Last Magician. I've always been a sucker for bad boys with mystical abilities and girls who don't take any crap, and this book promised both. Plus, the fact that most of this novel was set in the early 1900s sounded fantastic. So, I picked it up in hopes of discovering an amazing tale, even though I'm not a huge fan of time travel novels. What I found is a story that's incredibly intriguing and yet somewhat cliche and more than a little slow.

To keep my thoughts in order, let's just break this review up into two parts.

The Good

I really enjoyed getting to know Maxwell's characters. Her main heroine, Esta, is full of spunk and charisma, so despite the mistakes she makes, I truly admired her personality. Same goes for Dolph, Harte, and the rest of the crew. After reading 500 pages, I definitely got to know their quirks and sincerely started to care about each and every character.

Additionally, this book is a little like an episode of Peaky Blinders. There are gang bosses, hidden clubs, death threats, and criminals galore. You'll have fun with atmosphere Maxwell paints, even if some of the details don't add up and it doesn't truly feel like the characters are in the 1900s.

The ending also holds a lot of promise. Despite my disdain for several parts of this novel, I actually turned the last page and thought to myself, "hm, maybe I'll pick up the second book if there is one." I probably won't, but it's pretty impressive that the ending was interesting enough to pique my interest, even when I didn't enjoy large swaths of the story.

The Not-So-Good (Because I Don't Like Saying "Bad")

In my opinion, by far the biggest detriment to this book was the length. This story could easily have been told in 350-400 pages, and yet it stretches into 500. There were several points where I found myself utterly disinterested in the plot simply because it was taking too dang long to progress. Yes, I appreciate attention to detail and typically love lengthy stories, but unfortunately The Last Magician took a little too long. It lost my interest a number of times, which automatically affected my overall rating.

Like I said, I don't like time travel novels in general, and this one fell particularly short in some areas. I get that Esta was trained to go back in time and blend in, but she slipped into the 20th century far too easily if you ask me. She hardly ever voiced confusion at being in a different time period and she didn't ever really seem to miss the present or even the people she left behind. All in all, I found her trip through time pretty unconvincing.

Now this isn't exactly a criticism, but it is something that held me back from loving this book: the romance falls so flat. Maxwell teases us over the course of her long novel, and in the end, we really get nothing in terms of love or steamy scenes. It's not that I always need romance in my novels, but when you build up sexual tension for 500 flipping pages, you have to give your readers a little something eventually...

People kept talking about how this novel is full of twist and turns, and here I have to blatantly disagree. I had the entire ending predicted before I was even three-quarters of the way finished. Maybe I just read too many similar novels, but the ultimate plot twist didn't impress me.

In all, The Last Magician was not a bad book. In fact, I sincerely enjoyed parts of it. The characters are lovable, the plot is entertaining, and the ending leaves you wanting more. However, I was disappointed by several aspects, so I couldn't bring myself to wholeheartedly sing this book's praises.

I spent most of my time waffling between like and dislike with this one.