Title: An unkindness of Magicians
Author: Kat Howard
There is a dark secret that is hiding at the heart of New York City and diminishing the city’s magicians’ power in this fantasy thriller by acclaimed author Kat Howard.
In New York City, magic controls everything. But the power of magic is fading. No one knows what is happening, except for Sydney—a new, rare magician with incredible power that has been unmatched in decades, and she may be the only person who is able to stop the darkness that is weakening the magic. But Sydney doesn’t want to help the system, she wants to destroy it.
Sydney comes from the House of Shadows, which controls the magic with the help of sacrifices from magicians.
I really enjoyed this book. Set in a magical version of New York it revolves around a magical competition which is very much in my wheelhouse. I will say i was not expecting the competition to be as political as it is but instead of being off-putting it made this story a lot more interesting. It is more focused on the political jousting and the shift of power between the magical houses than it is on the magic itself but that makes the scenes where the magic is present a lot more powerful. When the magic is described it beautiful and dark and the actual magical system gets pieced together slowly through each magical dual.
The magic system was novel. Everyone drew from a big pot of collective magic that would get distributed according to the ranking of the magical houses. Each magical practitioner is associated with a house to be able to draw from its magical source. Being an independent practitioner is difficult. The purpose of the ‘Turning’ (the magical competition) is to jostle for the top house and therefore the larger pool of magic. The political manoeuvres are just as interesting as the magic which makes this and exciting read to see who will come out on top.
The book does throw you straight into the action, expecting the reader to keep up and build the world as the go through the story. Sometimes it can feel a little blink and you will miss it. I found myself having to re-read some of the duels to figure out who made what move. the writing was definitely sharp and dynamic that just increased the pace and urgency of some of the scenes.
There are some real heroes that you root for, villains that you route against and some very brutal battles between them. All in all, it was a great read. I would happily take more from this world, especially if it would teach me more about the magic system and how it worked.