Magic in the blood. Danger in the streets.
Lord 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…
I’m flying through this series and loving it so much that my words fail me when it comes to writing a review. I’m already looking to buy the paperback versions since I’m sure I’ll want to reread these books over and over again.
Everything I loved about the first book was present again in this one: the mystery, the magical world-building, the relationships… I feel like these books were written for me.
I really enjoyed the mystery here, and how it involved both Stephen and Lucien. The rats were creepy, and the descriptions of the attacks so well done I was afraid I’d have nightmares. I liked seeing Stephen’s team at work, too, and meeting the famous Esther Gold. I was shocked at how well all the elements intertwined to solve the mystery in the end. KJ Charles pulled that off amazingly well.
The world-building was just as brilliant as the mystery. I love how the magpies kind of tie everything together. I feared for Stephen when I learnt he was being suspected by his peers, because there was no way he could tell them the truth. But when the truth finally came out, Esther’s reaction was gold (see what I did there?) I kept learning new things about the justiciars and the magic in this world, and I never got tired of it or thought it was too much information. It takes a really good writer to develop a world like that.
And last but no less, I adored Stephen and Lucien here. Four months have passed since we left them at the end of the last book, and they’re still together and going strong. I loved seeing their relationship evolve while they investigated this mystery, and the scene where they finally say “I love you” is one of the most beautiful declarations I’ve ever read. I may be slightly in love with them myself.
I would like to give a shout out to “A Case of Spirits”, the free short that follows up to this book. Seeing Merrick affected by that kind of magic broke my heart, and for a short it had an extremely well-developed plot. Now I’m on to the next book in this series!