My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have zero complaints about this book.
I have to admit, I didn’t start it with extremely high expectations. A debut novel from a (very) young author that I’d never heard of, talked up by the publisher as “for fans of Patrick Rothfuss and Scott Lynch.” My attitude was something like, “Yeah, I’ve heard THAT kind of claim before. But sure, I’ll give it a try.”
Well, this time, the blurb claim is actually true.
Birch gives us a fantasy reminiscent of Oliver Twist: The boy known as ‘Ashes’ is a Burroughside ‘rasa’: a gamin who knows nothing of his past, scraping by as a beggar and a thief in the worst neighborhood of the city of Teranis. His nemesis is the nasty Fagin known as Mr. Ragged, a petty crimelord for sure, but one who looms large in the fears of the children under his thumb.
But then, Ashes’ path crosses that of the man who calls himself Candlestick Jack. Jack is a magician – but also a con man and thief who subverts and circumvents the rules of the guilds governing the use of magic, at every turn. It turns out that Ashes might have some talent for magic – and Jack sees that there might be some utility to training an anonymous Artificer.
What follows is a dramatic and twisting caper, as each character follows their own agenda in the pursuit of their own goals, and honesty appears only almost as an accident…
A thoroughly entertaining story, strongly written. I’ll definitely be following this author.
Many thanks to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.
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