She understood the hurt, too. The fear that there was something intrinsically wrong with you to make the people who were supposed to love you leave. The way that fear either hardened you or destroyed you.
I’ll be honest, when I picked up The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell, I did not expect to fall in love with it. I should have known better.
I recalled enough about the author to have recognized her name. But I didn’t remember enough to accurately recall which book of hers I’d read before. And I didn’t look until after I’d finished it, but I soon realized Maxwell is the very same author who blew me away with a Peter Pan retelling that, had it not been so well executed, I would have been furious about rather than in love with. The truth is, Lisa Maxwell is just a masterful writer.
And that fact become infinitely more apparent to me the very moment I finished this novel.
The Last Magician has some of the best storytelling, voice, characterization, and plotting I’ve ever come across. Now, that said, I was actually able to predict pretty much all but one of the events and twists that occurred throughout the novel. Fortunately, however, that fact didn’t make a single one of the twists less brilliant. And that last one? The one I didn’t predict? It blew me away.
The Last Magician is a story of magic and time travel, of betrayal and death. I finished this book within twenty-four hours of starting it and could not possibly sing its praises more. I was skeptical, at first, of the main character Esta. Initially I believed I would not like her at all, but in fact she quickly became one of my all-time favorite characters. Harte, bitter and sarcastic, was so much fun. Even Dolph, who at times might have been somewhat boring, was so brilliantly written that you can’t help loving him.
A Commentary on the Villain
Oh, this piece was so insanely clever. I did figure out this plot point. A few of the small reveals regarding the truth behind this character clued me in fairly early on. In truth, I equate this more to my life-long reading habit and subsequent knowledge about the inner workings of plotting. I don’t think that these clues were obvious or poorly integrated. It’s actually a mark of an exceptional novel to be able to include such foreshadowing.
I loved the villain’s motivations, the manipulation involved in reaching predetermined goals. The numerous moments of deception were woven into the story so expertly. And it helps that we’re seeing this villain from everyone else’s point of view. We only learn about their treachery from characters who don’t always have access to understanding their true motivations and actions. And each of these characters has a different emotional attachment that either clouds or illuminates their understandings.
It Was Phenomenal
Honestly, my single biggest complaint about The Last Magician is the fact that people are comparing it to Leah Bardugo’s Six of Crows. To begin with, despite the heist-nature of the story, the two are nothing alike. Second, The Last Magician is infinitely better both in writing, story, and characters. Granted, this is a personal opinion.
It’s telling, however, that I will freely admit this is one of the best books I’ve ever read.
A Telling Voice
Honestly, I don’t know much about Candace Thaxton as a narrator. This series is the only one in which I’ve experienced her voice. And, I think it’s fair to say that she does a pretty great job. Of all the characters, though, I think she captures Viola’s voice best. Which is somewhat ironic considering Viola isn’t even a center focus of the first novel. The audiobook is definitely fun, though I wouldn’t suggest starting with it if you have the ability to read the physical book first. I dunno, I guess I just feel like its easier to miss some clues otherwise.
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