From the blurb:
Crispin Tredarloe never meant to become a warlock. Freed from his treacherous master, he’s learning how to use his magical powers the right way. But it’s brutally hard work. Not everyone believes he’s a reformed character, and the strain is putting unbearable pressure on his secret relationship with waste-man Ned Hall.
Ned’s sick of magic. Sick of the trouble it brings, sick of its dangerous grip on Crispin and the miserable look it puts in his eyes, and sick of being afraid that a gentleman magician won’t want a street paper-seller forever—or even for much longer.
But something is stirring among London’s forgotten discards. An ancient evil is waking up and seeking its freedom. And when wild magic hits the rag-and-bottle shop where Ned lives, a panicking Crispin falls back onto bad habits. The embattled lovers must find a way to work together—or London could go up in flames.
K.J. Charles does it again with another fabulous, exciting, endlessly entertaining story. I know I can always count on her to deliver when I need her most!
I wholeheartedly recommend this book with a few minor caveats. First of all, I think all prospective readers of this story should start with A Queer Trade, the prequel novella. I think it gives background information that is really necessary to understand the main characters and the dynamic of the relationship between Crispin and Ned. Secondly, you should NOT jump into this series without first reading The Magpie Lord. It's best if you read the entire Magpie Lord series before you start this one. There is so much information there about the magical world in which these books are set that I think you are operating at a deficit if you start your The World of A Charm of Magpies journey here.
Now that that background stuff is out of the way I can get to the story. Rag and Bone was so on point. To start, I don't think I've ever read a historical romance where the main MCs are in an interracial relationship, much less a M/M historical with one (shout out to Courtney Milan for The Heiress Effect where the side characters have an interracial romance). Combine that with some really fascinating and well-crafted magical world-building and tons of intense action, and you've got yourself a winner.
I adore how K.J. Charles envisions her Magpie world and the amount of thought she takes with her storytelling. Her characters' magical practices make sense in that brilliant way that so few authors are able to pull off. I loved Crispin's unique strain of magic and the pressure that that put on him. It was a case of really masterful writing.
Though I wasn't quite up to the same level of emotional investment with Crispin and Ned as some of the other K.J. Charles pairings, I think that I could grow to be obsessed with them as a couple too. There was something special forming there, and I have extremely high hopes for this offshoot series.
**Copy provided in exchange for an honest review**
Enjoy, my friends!