What’s it all about?:
It’s been almost ten years since Nathan Garrett woke on a cold warehouse floor with nothing but a gun, a sword, and no idea of who he was or how he got there. His only clue … a piece of paper with his name on it. Since then, he’s discovered he’s a powerful sorcerer and has used his abilities to work as a thief for hire. But he’s never stopped hunting for his true identity, and those who erased his memory have never stopped hunting for him. When the barrier holding his past captive begins to crumble, Nathan swears to protect a young girl who is key to his enemy’s plans. But with his enemies closing in, and everyone he cares about becoming a target for their wrath, Nathan is forced to choose between the life he’s built for himself and the one buried deep inside him.
Crimes Against Magic is an Urban Fantasy set in modern-day London with Historical flashbacks to early fifteenth-century France. It’s book one of the Hellequin Chronicles, a series about Nathan (Nate) Garrett, a centuries-old sorcerer.
What did I think?:
This is going to be such a tough book to review but I’m going to try my best to make my thoughts and feelings somewhat coherent! Crimes Against Magic, the first book in The Hellequin Chronicles was recommended to me by a good friend who also got me into the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (a series I’m heartily enjoying!). I went into it with my expectations somewhat raised but anticipating a strong male lead, a magical world where your powers can be used for good and against your adversaries and a few strange creatures to round it all off. Essentially, this is exactly what I got….so why am I left feeling slightly disappointed? Mainly, I think it’s because I thought although this series has an awful lot of potential and there were many things that I enjoyed, there were also a couple of issues that irked me which I’ll get into a bit later.
Crimes Against Magic follows our male protagonist, Nathan Garrett who is a powerful sorcerer but ten years ago something happened to him that left him on a warehouse floor with very little memory of the events that happened just prior to this incident or the incident itself that has left him in this state of unease. We follow him as he tries to recall what has happened to him and, in particular, whom he has to protect in the vital mission he was sent upon. Told in a dual timeline between Nathan’s past in fifteenth century France and the present time in London and the South of England, Nathan draws on all his old powers and a few loyal friends in order to help him remember who he really is, the extent of his powers and the crucial events of the past before his adversary strikes again.
Okay, so there’s a lot to like about this novel and generally, I think fantasy lovers are going to go absolutely crazy for it. I loved the setting in both London and the South of England, two places I’ve lived and know very well so it was a nostalgic experience reading about them in a novel. It’s exciting and fast-paced and I really enjoyed learning about the intriguing three magic systems in this world. There’s the Elemental system i.e. earth, fire, air and water, the Omega system (not to be used by novices) – mind, matter, shadow and light and the Blood Magic system which the author describes very astutely as “scaring the sh*t out of people.” Nathan has control over air and fire and I loved the way in which he used these elements to defeat his adversaries in different ways e.g. taking out all the air in the room or melting a lock. Also, even though his main job (so as to speak) is a thief for hire, Nathan has strong morals and I really appreciated this part of his character, particularly his relationship with sixteen year old Dani whom he swears to protect.
Now the bad. My biggest problem with this novel unfortunately is the way all the female characters appear to be drawn. This seems to be very much a book aimed at men, well – let me say a particular group of men because I know a lot of you guys appreciate a strong female character, right? The women in this book seemed to be there merely as sexual objects and their attractiveness, facial features, hair, body, if they were wearing a slinky dress (I could go on…) was how they were introduced. I noted also a couple of times where a female character was presented and we were told she was either – under thirty or no more than thirty or no older than in her thirties. WHY DOES THIS MATTER? Breathe. Apologies for the capitals, folks.
In comparison, most of the male characters were introduced by how strong they were or their height (such a manly attribute!) and there was no reference to their attractiveness/facial features/age/sexiness at all that I remember. All I wanted in this novel was for a strong female accompaniment to Nathan and there was a woman who was slightly kick-ass, although weakly developed which was a shame, but then that doesn’t last very long, for one reason or another. It was just so very noticeable the difference between the female and the male characters and for that, I was sad. I apologise if I’ve offended anyone with these statements but I have to be completely honest and if you’ve read it and can prove me wrong, I’m always happy to discuss for sure. I’ve ummed and aaahed about my rating for this novel and for the things I did enjoy and the magic system, I’m giving it a tentative three. Fantasy/magic fans are definitely going to love it, I just had a few issues with it personally.
Would I recommend it?:
Star rating (out of 5):
Crimes Against Magic by Steve McHugh is the fifth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!