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Flight of Magpies (A Charm of Magpies Book 3) Kindle Edition
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So how was book 3? Well, did you like book 1 and 2? Because if you did, then you’re going to like book 3. It’s a similar style and tone, still surprising with some shocking turns (as the villains are very villainy!!), similar wit and sexy banter between Stephen and Crane as they push-pull each other about their relationship, about keeping secrets, and about whether committing to each other is what’s best for them, especially since being gay is still illegal in Victorian England. (But even with the fear of the Law or blackmail, these two can’t stay away from each other, thankfully for us hungry readers.) Also, like in past books, you will find some more hot sexy times as Stephen leaves his obligations outside the bedroom, and willingly surrenders control to his Lord.
Have you not read book 1 or 2 yet? *Then don’t start here.* It would be a crime against your possible reading pleasure to jump in at this point. What I would recommend is to go try book 1, especially if you’re a fan of historicals and paranormal, since Charles’ world is a mix of dangerous magic and Victorian morals, with a grateful dash of face-punching, thanks to always-good-back-up manservant Merrick and the not-really-all-that-noble Crane.
Was it a perfect read? No. There’s one development where I shared Stephen’s shock, and it felt less organic than other parts of the series. As a reader, I didn’t “buy it,” and it did feel like a convenient move to comfortably pair other characters off. But even with that point, it was still easy to be carried along with the story’s quick pace and plot.
How do I feel about the series overall? I think it’s a stellar trilogy, and if there are no more novels, I think it is reads great as is, and any reader who has enjoyed the ride thus far with Stephen and Crane should feel good about the ending these two so much deserve after all that they have survived.
What’s next? There actually IS a new Magpie story coming in early 2015, but it’s labeled A Charm of Magpies 2.5, so is set technically before this volume. Also, early next year, there is Jackdaw, which is a related book that follows a secondary character from this volume and his adventures, and by the hints in the blurb, we may also see some Magpie Lord sightings there as well.
Would I read more of this series? Of course! I’m a greedy reader and if the next book was just Stephen and Crane talking about the weather (“Looks like rain.” “That it does.”) I’d pick it up in a heartbeat, but end of the day, even for this greedy reader, this journey settles very well in this volume, and I think other greedy readers will be quite pleased.
Review first posted to the Boys in our Books blog.
By KJ Charles
Practice comes full circle. Lucien and Stephen—Lord Crane and Mr. Day—face their ultimate test, as men and as a couple.
In “Flight of Magpies” KJ Charles offers us the third, and most exciting, of the Charm of Magpies series, although there are two short stories that expand the magpie universe to five. The setting, the characters, both primary and supporting, the action, and even the sex; all work together to provide a page-turning adventure that will have you begging for more at the end.
Something about the language, the dialogue, in this volume is especially riveting. Both Lord Crane and Stephen Day speak with such acuity and power. Each of them has great moments of soliloquy that give us insight into their true strength and character. There’s a shivery level of un-lordlike verbiage from Lucien that reminds us of his very colorful, not to say violent and dangerous, past. We see his longtime servant Mr. Merrick in a new light, and remember that he is neither Jeeves nor Downton Abbey’s Carson. We delve more deeply into the politics of the magical control system in Victorian London, and we are dragged into a series of hideous murders more terrifying than anything ever dreamed up by Conan Doyle.
The importance of the action, however, is secondary to the interplay between Lucien and Stephen. This is the book where the nature of their bond, of their love for each other, is challenged. It is represented physically in their sexual interaction, but also in the magpie tattoos they share because of the magical connection they have through Lucien’s bloodline. If Lucien seems to be the dominant partner—aristocratic, arrogant, and simply physically larger than the diminutive Stephen—then Stephen’s strength lies in his magic, and in his ability to manipulate Lucien’s natural dominance to his own advantage.
What pleased me most, however, was the underlying plot thread focused on the constant awareness on the part of both men that their relationship is considered criminal under English law. The reality of Victorian London is always there, and even in the world of magical practitioners their sexuality is shocking and unacceptable. In the midst of all the other goings-on, it is their very existence as homosexuals that presents the biggest threat to their happiness. Without sidestepping truth, KJ Charles handles this in a thoughtful, and ultimately clever way. In a world where the concept of gay rights is inconceivable, she manages to inject an element of gay pride.
Charles, to her great credit, feels no need to use cliffhangers. This book felt very much like an ending, and perhaps she has decided she’s given us enough of Lord Crane and his magical paramour. Then again, there was an interesting loose end that never got tied up. One can only hope.