Title: Cold Burn of Magic
Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Black Blade #1
The town of Cloudburst Falls, West Virginia is known as the most magical place in America because it has monsters and powerful magical Families. Lila Merriweather is a 17 year old who has spent the past few years living in the shadows and trying to avoid the Families and their politics. But when she rescues another teen from an assassination attempt, she finds herself right in the middle of Family politics.
Like all of Estep’s urban fantasy books, this one was interesting and unique. Cloudburst Falls is filled with various monsters, such as a river monster they call Lochness and requires a toll to pass their bridge, to Pixies who are household maids. The Families are basically mob groups with each vying for power, the two main ones being the Draconis and the Sinclairs who are constantly trying to assassinate each other. Like the Elemental Assassin series, each person and family have unique abilities that make them formidable enemies. Also, this does take place in the same universe as the Elemental Assassin and Mythos Academy books.
Lila Merriweather is a thief and pickpocket with the abilities of Sight (can see in the dark perfectly), Soulsight (the ability to tell what people are feeling by looking into their eyes), and Transference (the abilities to absorb magic used against her). While she has powerful abilities, she avoids the Families because her mother was killed by their politics. I really liked Lila. She was smart, resourceful, and protective. She may not love it, but she is much like her mother and is a protector by nature. I really enjoyed seeing her character progression throughout this book. She is a very mature young adult because of her past and it made it easy to connect with her.
Estep does an amazing job at creating urban fantasy worlds and creating wonderful side characters that create a more rich world. I really enjoyed the secondary characters in this one. Mo reminded me a lot of Fletcher from the Elemental Assassin series, but with his own personality and uniqueness. I also really enjoyed Devon. He may be the heir of the Sinclair family but he wasn’t spoiled or cruel. He was an interesting character and I like that the romance aspect with him wasn’t instant and is still building. Felix the chatterbox seems like a fun and good friend but we will see how his character progresses. I think my favorite side character though was Oscar, the grumpy, honeybeer drinking, cowboy pixie. I love a grumpy character who secretly is very caring. Overall, this was a wonderful start to a YA urban fantasy. I can’t wait to see what happens next with Lila and the Sinclairs.
Trigger warnings: death of family members mentioned; on page death, kidnapping, and abuse;