With the justiciary understaffed, a series of horrifying occult murders to be investigated, and a young student who is flying—literally—off the rails, magical law enforcer Stephen Day is under increasing stress. And his relationship with his aristocratic lover, Lord Crane, is beginning to feel the strain.Crane chafes at the restrictions of England’s laws, and there’s a worrying development in the blood-and-sex bond he shares with Stephen. A development that makes a sensible man question if they should be together at all.
When a thief strikes at the heart of Crane’s home, a devastating loss brings his closest relationships into bitter conflict—especially his relationship with Stephen. And as old enemies, new enemies, and unexpected enemies paint the lovers into a corner, the pressure threatens to tear them apart.
I don’t know why I bother preordering books (see: this post), as I almost always put off reading them until way later anyway. Case in point: this book! I’ve had it since pub date, but I waited ages to read it.
I suppose it’s the excitement of knowing that it’s going to show up in my mailbox/Kindle? And I WAS/AM excited for Flight of Magpies to be published! It’s the third book of a series I’ve very much enjoyed, with characters I like and a wonderful fantasy-mystery plot.
So in the previous book, A Case of Possession, Crane and Stephen worked through some problems in their relationship: namely, do they love each other and do they want to put in the work to stay with each other. In Flight of Magpies, they continue working through that problem while also dodging blackmailers and murderous warlocks. The main problem seems to be that Crane feels trapped in England but doesn’t want to leave without Stephen, and Stephen feels obligated to stay and work as a judiciary. They’re both unhappy, and it makes for some very emotional scenes while they work things out.
The majority of the plot is focused on their relationship; even the mystery takes a backseat to it. I didn’t much mind, but when I compare it to the previous two books, which both had very strong mysteries, I do feel there’s a lack. Part of the mystery involves characters from the first book, too, which wasn’t as exciting as I hoped it’d be.
I also missed a lot of the secondary characters from the previous book. Stephen’s magic partner is mostly absent (she’s pregnant and bedridden) and even Merrick takes a while to show up. The new characters are almost all bad guys, so there’s very little new stuff to enjoy. Even the relationship aspects are just continuations of fights from the previous two books. I like the world (and characters) of A Charm of Magpies, but I couldn’t help but be a little bit disappointed.
It also feels very much like the end of the Stephen-and-Crane books. Or at least the end of the first act, I guess? They’ve worked out their problems, they’ve got a plan for the future, and everything is hunky-dory. The next step would be to get them to Shanghai and see what happens when they can live in public as a couple–and I definitely do want to see that. While I’m sad this part of the series is over(?), it’s still very satisfying to see them have everything worked out.
Flight of Magpies also introduces a new character–a baddies!–who will be getting his own book this year. I’m looking forward to Jackdaw and I’ll probably end up pre-ordering it as well. It’ll be nice to have on my Kindle.
Read: January 5, 2015