Blurb (from Goodreads):
From master storyteller Jeff Somers comes a gritty new urban fantasy series starring a pair of unlikely heroes: low-life blood mages caught up in a violent scheme not of their own making.
Lem has ethics in using his magic. Therefore Lem is hungry and broke most of the time.
Ethics in the world of blood magic, however, is a gray area. While Lem will grift his way through life by using small glamours to make $1 bills appear as $20s, enabling him and his none-too-bright pal Mags to eat, he won’t use other people's blood to cast. Stronger spells require more blood, and hardcore magicians use Bleeders or “volunteers” to this end. Not Lem.
So when these down-and-out boon companions encounter a girl kidnapped and marked with magic rune tattoos, it’s not at all clear that they’re powerful enough to save her…or themselves. Turning to his estranged Master for help, it quickly becomes clear to Lem that not only is this beautiful, strange girl’s life all but forfeit, but that the world’s preeminent mage had big, earth-shattering plans for her—and he and Mags just got in the way.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Pocket Books and Edelweiss.)
Lem is a trickster – someone who uses blood to perform magic. Lem’s magic is pretty basic – making dollar bills appear to be larger bills, and cheating at cards. He does have limits though, while others use other peoples blood – bleeders, to fuel their magic, Lem will only use his own, which often leaves him woozy, and limits how much magic he can do.
One day Lem and his best mate Mags find themselves in a sticky situation. Not only do they have a dead body to dispose of, a priceless super-powerful artefact to deal with, and a missing marked-up naked girl on the run, but as it turns out, all three of these belong to the most powerful woman alive, who is, oh yeah… a serial killer.
Now Lem must figure out what to do next. He’s usually more concerned with finding some way to pay for breakfast rather than searching for a missing girl and trying not to get killed, but needs must.
Can Lem find the missing girl? Can he return her and the artefact without getting himself killed? And what sort of spell is the girl to be used for?
This book was pretty gritty, and although Lem could do magic he was known to be one of the lesser mages, and his magic was nothing compared to the stuff he’s inadvertently found himself mixed up in.
There were some moments I found odd in this book, right at the beginning Lem finds a dead girl in a bathtub and wonders how he can make money out of this discovery – what? And later, Mags comes back from the grocery store with bourbon, Lem comments how ‘liquor is not food’, and Mags says that he didn’t want to waste their last $40 on food!
The use of magic, and the environment that this book was set in kind-of reminded me of drug users – they stayed in some really nasty places, never had any money, and Lem was constantly cutting himself for blood to power his magic. They seemed to be always scared of those who had more magic than them, and after landing themselves in the mess they were in, they had the threat of this most powerful woman hanging over their heads too.
The ending left an opening for further books following this one, but I don’t think I’d want to read them to be honest, this was a little too gritty for me. It’s the sort of thing that I would expect my older brother to enjoy though.
Overall; gritty urban fantasy about blood magic.
6.5 out of 10.
Trickster will be released on February 26th 2013.