Review: “Stolen Magic,” Linsey Hall

Pros: Some high stakes; kick-ass protagonist
Cons: A bit formulaic
Rating: 4 out of 5

Stolen Magic (Dragon’s Gift: The Huntress Book 3) is the third installment in Linsey Hall’s fun urban fantasy/paranormal series. When book one opened, three fifteen-year-old girls found themselves in the middle of nowhere, with no memory of their own identities. However, they knew they were on the run from a Monster, and they knew what they were: FireSouls, able to absorb the powers of dying Magica and shapeshifters. Their kind is feared and hated, and so they know they have to be careful who they trust. Over ten years they gradually settle down in Oregon in a city full of magic, and open a shop where they sell magical artifacts. Nix is the Protector, who watches over the shop and duplicates the magical items they hunt down. Del is the Seeker, who researches the items they hunt and takes on demon-hunting jobs on the side. Cass is the Huntress, and it’s her job to play Indiana Jones, hunting down and retrieving the artifacts.

In book one, Cass got roped into hunting down a scroll that could give away the secrets she and her sisters-by-choice are hiding, and she had to hide it from the man who hired her. Despite this, Aidan managed to figure out Cass’s secret–but instead of turning her in, he insisted on helping her learn how to control her power. In book two, Cass got guilted into helping the shapeshifter Alpha Council find a missing girl, despite the fact that she’s terrified the Council could figure out what she is–and in fact, one of them did. She also encountered the Monster–briefly–and lost an incredibly powerful artifact to him. Also, her friends Connor and Claire found out that she and her sisters are FireSouls. In this latest installment, someone attacks the museum where Cass’s friend Dr. Garriso works and is trying to analyze a chalice that the Monster wants. Garriso gets sucked through a portal, and the group has to retrieve him. Unfortunately the portal starts to expand, gradually enveloping the museum and threatening to destroy the entire city! Cass and Aidan must travel to Europe to find someone who can Nullify the portal’s power–easier said than done, of course.

Without saying too much about the ending, I’ll just say that this book breaks the usual urban fantasy formula by having some honest-to-god consequences that feel meaningful and harsh, and that affect the ongoing story. I’ll be a little put out if the rest of the series undoes them too quickly, but I’m optimistic. This is a good series, after all.

The world-building is worked in well. I wouldn’t start at this installment, and it’s easy to find the first two books so you don’t have to, but if it’s been a little while since you read book two (or your memory is as bad as mine is) it’ll be fine. We’re starting to get a bit of a better idea of why FireSouls are so feared and hated–not only do they have the capacity to absorb a dying person’s powers, but they become addicted to the feeling and corrupted by the ever-growing hunger for power. Cass is having to struggle with her own desire to slurp up the powers of the nearby not-quite-dead-yet, and it’s nice to see a reasonable depiction of this. I.e., sure she wants to keep from becoming power-mad, but at least she also recognizes that in the arms race to avoid and beat the Monster, having extra powers can only help. Too many stories focus on the moral dilemma while ignoring the practical one, so I was grateful to see Hall’s take on it.

I love the fact that Aidan clearly respects Cass. Particularly in this day and age, that’s sexy as hell. Honestly, I like it even more than the fact that he’s sexy, powerful, and wealthy when considering whether I’d like to see them end up together. Which obviously they will, but I like that it’s a relationship I can buy into and not feel guilty about. Meanwhile, Cass is a delightfully kick-ass protagonist. She needs others’ help–she isn’t a Mary Sue–but she can fight both physically and with magic, she’s very brave, and she thinks fast on her feet. Delightful!

I’m definitely enjoying this series, and look forward to volumes four and five!

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