Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: Cold Burn of Magic

Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1)Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Black Blade, #1
Released: April 28th 2015
Publisher: K-Teen
Length: 368 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: Amazon

There Be Monsters Here. . .
It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power. 
I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick. 
But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .

Cold Burn of Magic is the first book in a new series by Jennifer Estep, author of Mythos Academy and the Elemental Assassin series. It brings us the exciting story of Lila Merriweather, a young orphaned girl with a very special kind of magic. Lila lives in a city where magic is part of everyday life, but only the privileged have it, rich families organized like the mafia.

Lila starts out as a thief, and a very skilled one at that, but soon she’s blackmailed into making a career change. Charged to protect a young man with special magic of his own, Lila has to turn everything upside down and make peace with the fact that her life expectancy isn’t what it used to be. To make matters worse, she actually likes the boy she has to protect, which makes maintaining emotional distance next to impossible.

I’ve seen someone call this Elemental Assassin lite and I wholeheartedly agree. But it’s only lite because it’s young adult, everything else is pretty much the same. Gin, Gwen and Lila are too similar for comfort, and they share more than a few personality traits, as well as abilities. It needs to be said, however, that Estep recipe works. It’s been tried many times and each time it produced a light, entertaining, albeit mostly forgettable book.

There’s very little romance in this book, which I feel very ambivalent about. On the one hand, it’s very refreshing to have a YA novel that’s focused on the plot and character development and doesn’t try to distract us with romance. In this case, however, there’s very little actual character development to speak of and the book would have benefited from at least some distraction, something to make us want to read the next one just a little bit faster. There is a hint of romantic interest likely to develop in the future, but for me, it just wasn’t enough.

Dark Heart of Magic will be released in October and I’m already excited to continue this journey with Lila and Devon. Even if it ends up being a bit repetitive, Estep’s books are, at the very least, reliably entertaining.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.


  1. I really liked this series and while it wasn't a favorite yet, I can see it becoming one. I'm just so excited that the author is writing another YA series I can't stand it!

  2. Well this isn't the glowing review others are giving this one. Good to have a differing opinion.

  3. I skipped your review because I'm going to start it next (I'm so late....) but I'm sorry to see that it wasn't more for you, I saw some glowing reviews there...

  4. Oh, that's quite disappointing. I had hoped that this one would be rocking the YA demographic with refreshing and ground-breaking takes on tropes and clichés and character development but it seems that its "liteness" backfired. While I'm all out for books with little to no romance, I don't really like it when a book has very little substance. Passing for now.

    Faye at The Social Potato

  5. I agree that the romance was very low key but I'm excited to see where it's heading. To be honest, I'd rather see a slow romance than insta love, so I wasn't as frustrated with it as you were. I think I also enjoyed this book a little bit more than you.
    I'm excited for the next book as well.
    Lovely review, Maja!

  6. I haven't read anything by this author or the Mythos Academy. Which I'm very intrigued to read so will add it to my TBR. It reminds me of how I loved Vampire Academy when it came to an end too. This book sounds kick-ass though, it reminds me of Buffy for some reason. I'm sorry it didn't hold strong for you, that's disappointing. I've seen a lot of mixed reviews so far of this one. Great honest review! :)

  7. I've never read the Elemental Assassin series but this one reminded a bit of Estep's other YA series, Mythos Academy. I didn't love this one either, but I'll be reading Dark Heart of Magic too because as you mentioned, Maja, Estep's books are entertaining.

  8. It is endlessly interesting to read different reviews of the same book :) You found this lukewarm, whereas another blogger I know thought it was brilliant. But I only have to take into account a brief history of common reads to determine which take will be closer to mine. I'm pretty sure it's yours :) Little or no character development doesn't sound very enticing, I have to admit... And I see you're reading The Glass Arrow - I read it too, and can't wait to hear what you think.
    In conclusion, I'll try Cold Burn of Magic, but thanks to you, I'll approach it with the appropriate frame of mind. Thanks, Maja!

  9. I was wavering between a three and a four on my review but I rounded up. I can't really point to a lot being wrong with this, but not a lot wowed me either. I haven't read Elemental Assassin yet, but it is on my list for this year. I did find myself drawing comparisons to Mythos and I thought it was a bit similar. Still something about Estep's simple story telling is addictive and I will read the next.

  10. I speak for the Elemental Assassin series, but I did enjoy the few Mythos Academy books that I read. I purchased this one for my students because they can't get enough of urban fantasy. I may have to take a pass on this one for now and see what Dark Heart of Magic brings.

  11. Great review, Maja! It seems like some authors write the same characters again and again (it’s not always a bad story).

  12. I have heard so much about Estep and keep meaning to pick up one of her novels so with a new series, I really have no excuse. I definitely plan to pick this up and sample her writing. Wonderful review, Maja, and thanks for the caveat about Estep's repetitiveness--I'll keep that in mind!

  13. I will wait and see how the series does :)

  14. Huh. It kinda reminds me of the caste structure of Burn for Me, but I'm not impressed with the lack of romance. Lol. I'm honest enough to admit that. :)

  15. I enjoyed this one but, yeah, somewhat formulaic. I don't necessarily mind because it's Estep formulaic (rather than everyone) and she writes an entertaining story. I kind of like a bit more romance in my YA...

  16. I still haven't read anything by Estep and I think I'll probably start with the Mythos Academy since I love mythology!
    Glad to hear that even if this one wasn't mindblowing, it was still fun and entertaining, Maja!

  17. I really enjoyed the depth and world building that Estep imbues in her stories. This one in particular was fantastic. A well rounded world with good, evil, and everything in between. A grey heroine with the sharp whites of honor and loyalty creates a dramatic light with which to view all the other characters. The hidden evils and the hidden good show-cased by the bright flashes of the heroine's insight gave the story depth that a lot of YA books lack.

    Can't wait for the next novel in this series.

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