I stumbled across Charles’ series, A Charm of Magpies, while hunting for free or very cheap ebooks. I found a free short story, “A Case of Spirits,” read it in an hour, and immediately downloaded the first book. When I finished the first book, The Magpie Lord, I immediately downloaded the second book, A Case of Possession. The third book, A Flight of Magpies, is in my queue, but I haven’t had the chance to read it yet because I needed to get this review written and, well ….
Okay. First, the summary. Charles’ series is set in 19th century London (mostly) and centers on Lucien Vaudrey, the new Earl Crane, and Stephen Day, a justiciar. In this world where magic (at least in the Western world) is underground, Stephen and the other justiciars work behind the scenes to patrol, investigate, and punish magical crimes. He meets Lucien when the latter comes to him with a serious problem: a family death curse which repeatedly drives him to attempt suicide. As Stephen’s investigation progresses — uncovering corruption, malign magic, and a coven of warlocks — the attraction between him and Lucien grows stronger and stronger. Ultimately, it is that attraction, that love, which saves their lives ….
Wow. I love these books. Love them. I had the same oh-my-gods-I-want-more reaction to A Charm of Magpies as I had to If Wishes Were Horses by Joey W Hill and Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews. I lost myself in Charles’ world. I was happy that Lucien and Stephen found one another, and also angry that they had to hide their relationship. (Lucien repeatedly laments that fact; he misses Shanghai, where he lived for twenty years and the government and priests have no interest in who shares your bed. For him, China is “civilization,” not England.) Stephen and Lucien also treat the women in their lives as equals: Stephen has been partnered with the Jewish Esther Gold for five years, and Lucien is great friends with the beautiful, wily Leonora Hart. Stephen has also taken on Jenny Saint, a teenage street urchin, as an apprentice.
So, if you are looking for a terrific historical paranormal murder mystery romance series with strong characters, narrow escapes, nasty villains, love, lust, and some hot sex scenes, look no further than A Charm of Magpies.
Highly recommended to fans of Hill and Andrews, as well as Erzabet Bishop, Juli D Revezzo, Lexi Blake, Jordan Hawk, and Mercedes Lackey.
[Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of EHS.]