Series: Magic in Manhattan: Book One
Author: Allie Therin
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 243 Pages
Category: Historical, Paranormal Romance
At a Glance: There has been a lot of early buzz about the brilliance of this book. Believe it. All of it. Spellbound not only lives up to it but exceeded any preconceived notions I had going into it, and my only regret was that it ended.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: To save Manhattan, they’ll have to save each other first…
Arthur Kenzie’s life’s work is protecting the world from the supernatural relics that could destroy it. When an amulet with the power to control the tides is shipped to New York, he must intercept it before it can be used to devastating effects. This time, in order to succeed, he needs a powerful psychometric…and the only one available has sworn off his abilities altogether.
Rory Brodigan’s gift comes with great risk. To protect himself, he’s become a recluse, redirecting his magic to find counterfeit antiques. But with the city’s fate hanging in the balance, he can’t force himself to say no.
Being with Arthur is dangerous, but Rory’s ever-growing attraction to him begins to make him brave. And as Arthur coaxes him out of seclusion, a magical and emotional bond begins to form. One that proves impossible to break—even when Arthur sacrifices himself to keep Rory safe and Rory must risk everything to save him.
Review: Sometimes a book comes along that leaves me digging for all the possible superlatives to describe how exquisite it is, and frankly, I’m at a loss here. My vocabulary is inadequate to the task of articulating how gorgeous this book is. There is no single word I can think of to describe its brilliance, though the title comes close to encompassing it. I am spellbound.
Author Allie Therin introduces a world of magic within the mundane in Spellbound, book one in the Magic in Manhattan series, in a 1925 New York City which is alive and vibrant, a post-World War I urban landscape where underground speakeasies once skirted the prohibition laws to deliver entertainment to those who sought it out, and the city is a character in itself. Mrs. Brodigan’s antiques shop in Hell’s Kitchen provides the backdrop for the opening scene and the introduction to the supernatural elements that Therin then spends the rest of the novel building upon, through Manhattan and Central Park and Harlem and Brooklyn, until she ended up crafting the absolute perfect paranormal novel.
Rory Brodigan is a scryer, which means he’s ideally suited to his job as an appraiser at Mrs. Brodigan’s shop. Rory’s ability to touch an item and see its history makes him an invaluable resource for sniffing out forgeries, although his gift doesn’t come without cost to his psychological and emotional wellbeing. This same ability also makes him a target, putting him in physical jeopardy, and this story speaks in some very deliberate ways not only to a general xenophobia but to prejudice against those with paranormal abilities as well, underscoring the reason he has closed himself off from most human contact. His cautious nature was earned the hard way, and his backstory is one that wrings a lot of empathy and compassion from readers, the betrayal he endured supporting and justifying his mistrust of everyone but the woman who gave him her name. Rory is such a fantastic character who goes through a range of emotions as his story is parsed out—much of his prickliness rooted in fear—but watching the way his power dictates his actions and relationships makes his meeting and eventually working with Arthur “Ace” Kenzie all the more rewarding as their story progresses and their unintentional bond deepens and strengthens.
In every conceivable way, Spellbound is an opposites-attract story. Arthur is the son of a politician. He’s wealthy, he’s well-traveled and sophisticated, he’s charming and refined—in short, he’s everything that the hardscrabble Rory Brodigan is not by virtue of the circumstances of Rory’s birth and the subsequent punishment he endured for his ability. Ace is also a mundane who knows magic exists, a rarity in itself. He, however, is not the typical unaffected socialite, and his heart is as big as his trust fund. Bigger even. And he takes great responsibility for his life’s work, which is what leads him to Mrs. Brodigan’s shop in the first place. He needs someone with the ability to scry an artifact that holds what Ace suspects is an immense power. The fact that he lures Rory into the job by way of tricking Mrs. Brodigan doesn’t bode well for their first meeting. Or for many meetings after, truth be told. But, as the plot thickens and the danger increases for Ace and Rory, and everyone else involved, their bond with each other intensifies, and they eventually become inevitable.
Which, when all is said and done, is what defines a good romance—the ability to believe in the characters’ inevitability.
The supporting cast in Spellbound do their intended jobs, becoming integral to not only the story but to the success of thwarting a plot that will do unmitigated harm and damage to the city of New York and those who inhabit it, if not stopped. The suspense in carrying out this mission rises and builds in superb style and leaves readers on the hook for book two in a most capable way. This story is far from over, the prevailing danger has only gained more power, and the villains are not without their own paranormal abilities which will certainly provide for more action, suspense, and threats as the series continues.
There has been a lot of early buzz about the brilliance of this book. Believe it. All of it. Spellbound not only lives up to the hype but exceeded any preconceived notions I had going into it, and my only regret was that it ended. It is exactly my kind of perfect, its historical backdrop detailed to precision, Therin’s storytelling transportive, and its characters a diverse and delightful mix of wonderful.
*and hats all the way off to the cover artist too
You can buy Spellbound here:
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