Magic in Manhattan, Book 1
Heat Factor: It’s absolutely fade-to-black, but also Arthur has a whole stern daddy thing going on, which, as we know, I am here for
Character Chemistry: I texted on the group chat: “This Allie Therin paternalistic hero is really doing it for me”
Plot: Young man with magic underestimates/fears his powers until forced to confront his abilities when swirled into magical intrigue by slightly older man
Overall: This book was so marvelous in so many ways that the only downside is that it’s not a standalone.
Rory uses his magic to scry objects and determine their authenticity. He does this by falling into the objects’ pasts, which also makes him fear becoming lost in the past forever, succumbing to the madness of his magic. But using his magic allows him to take care of himself and the woman who rescued him from the asylum, because together the two run a shop that also offers antique authentication services. One does what one must.
And so we open with Rory being asked to stay up all night authenticating letters for a wealthy patron, but the patron is actually testing to see if the authenticator is a magic user. Because, you see, Arthur is on a mission to save New York from magic relics that, if used, could destroy pretty much everything. It’s very important. Unfortunately, Arthur thinks that it’s Rory’s “aunt” who has the magic, so after Rory yells at him for bringing a weapon into the shop, Arthur tries to get information out of Rory by getting him soused.
Arthur does not realize that, in fact, Rory has magic and that, at only twenty, Rory has never had alcohol at all. Because it’s prohibition time, folks, and these two are at a speakeasy! Arthur also knows that alcohol and magic do not mix because when his magical friends drink, everything in the room starts floating, for example.
Commence Arthur paternalistic protective worrying!
This is an epic adventure (though probably not technically from a literary standpoint, but whatever), and it’s all very exciting. Therin creates a diverse and lively cast of characters with different skills and backgrounds who all come together to do good things. Rory is a loner because he can’t trust strangers not to send him back to the asylum if they see him accidentally scry something, but he still has his “aunt.” Meanwhile, Arthur has a group of magic user friends, though he himself has no magic, and he also has a large, wealthy, and powerful family to fall back on for resources. So when the sauce gets made, things really click.
There is intrigue. There is adventure.
There is Rory deciding to be brave and take risks because he knows it’s for the greater good, and Arthur worrying because Rory is young and inexperienced, and Arthur is a worrier.
Really, Arthur and Rory have – I think? – an eight year age difference, but Arthur was in the war and he feels ancient. He’s also jaded by the lifestyle and social expectations that come with his family’s wealth and power. Meanwhile, Rory has been orphaned, abandoned, and living in fear. Arthur’s protective and caregiving side goes into overdrive around Rory, and it’s soooooo sweet. I think I most enjoyed the relationship dynamic because Arthur had all these feelings and wanted to be there for Rory even though he was pretty sure that Rory didn’t and wouldn’t feel for Arthur the way Arthur did for Rory. But Rory was also having so many feelings, and he really wanted to come on to Arthur but also didn’t want to get himself into trouble for doing so. And they were both pining a little bit, so when things finally happened between them, it was like fireworks! So great!
But now I have to find out what drama goes down in book 2! Starcrossed, here I come!
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