Rogue Magic, by Kit Brisby
Publisher: Riptide Books
Release Date: January 30, 2017
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
While trapped in a stalled subway train on his morning commute, PR rep Byron Cole flirts with Levi, a young waiter with adorable curls. But Byron’s hopes for romance crash and burn when Levi saves him from a brutal explosion—with outlawed magic.
When Levi is imprisoned, Byron begins to question everything he’s ever believed. How can magic be evil when Levi used it to save dozens of lives? So Byron hatches a plan to save Levi that will cost him his job and probably his life. If he doesn’t pull it off, Levi will be put to death.
Byron discovers that he isn’t the only one questioning America’s stance on magic. And he learns that Levi is stubborn, angry, and utterly enchanting. Time is running out, though. Byron must convince Levi to trust him, to trust his own magic, and to fight against the hatred that’s forced him to hide his true nature his entire life. The more Levi opens up, the harder Byron falls. And the more they have to lose.
Enemies to Lovers
In a world strikingly similar to our own, certain people are born with an innate magical ability: some barely noticeable, others imminently powerful, and all are viewed as undeniably dangerous. The government requires every mage to have their powers bound and their rights restricted, but they are still seen as a threat. Byron Cole is the black sheep heir to this magical suppression technology, and is having a normal day when a chance meeting with an attractive stranger named Levi on the subway changes his life. And saves it, when he and his mysterious new crush are caught up in a supposed terrorist attack, and Levi reveals himself to be an extremely powerful mage. What follows is a story that’s more of an examination of social justice than romance, or at least, it tries to be.
The majority of the novel takes place while Levi is isolated and imprisoned, and while I was uncomfortable with the entire set up at least the story addressed its problematic nature, rather than simply ignoring it. I liked that the characters vocalised the consent issues and potential for stockholm syndrome, as while Levi can consent, the power imbalance inherent in their situation means Byron needs to be careful not take advantage. I especially appreciated that Byron demonstrating kindness didn’t make him less of an oppressor, and didn’t deserve any cookies for being a decent person.
Levi kept calling Byron ‘weird’, but he didn’t seem weird to me at all. This might just be due to the fact we both have anxiety, but I honestly couldn’t understand why Levi was saying it, other than to inform the reader Byron was odd rather than demonstrate it through behaviour. I also didn’t feel much of a connection between Levi and Byron, they just didn’t have enough time together – certainly not without being under duress – to establish a real relationship. While the initial spark on the subway certainly had chemistry they fell in love way too fast, and I found it difficult to believe they could develop such a strong bond that would last once the forced inclusion of their traumatic circumstances were over.
The creepy antagonist Dr Crane made my skin crawl, and whenever he appeared on the page I shivered and felt a bit sick – which is a testament to the writing (for sure!) if a bit wearying. I was genuinely worried about Levi, and kept wondering what sort of torture he would have to endure next. I actually had to stop reading fairly often, as the storyline was painfully relevant to the current socio-political climate and much too real. There was very little worldbuilding except to let reader know it’s ‘our’ contemporary New York City (Hamilton and all) but with minor differences, which was a shame as I really wanted to know more about how magic works in this world – especially as that’s part of the plot! – and I expected a story about mages, even ones bound and unable to use their talents, to have more magic in it. The ‘twist’ in the dramatic tale was fairly obvious from the beginning, but the reveal was satisfying; the action packed finale however felt rushed, which it might not have done if the rest of the novel hadn’t been a slow burn.
Rogue Magic has a lot to recommend it – a timely metaphorical look at the state of the world today and the need to stand up for what is right in the face of unrelenting oppression, a main character with relatable anxiety issues, and two cute boys who clearly want each other but circumstances are trying to force apart – but ultimately falls short of delivering on its promise of an emotionally compelling paranormal romance. As an urban fantasy devotee I expected more from this story, but if you’re just wanting a solid, angsty adventure (with happy ending!) you’ll probably enjoy it very much.
Kit Brisby lives in Tampa Bay, Florida, with her two young sons and two rescue dogs. A graduate of the University of Florida, she’s been writing professionally since 2002. Her career has taken her from writing think pieces on breastfeeding to writing erotica for the adult industry—and nearly everything in between. She works in digital marketing and helps businesses find and tell their stories.
She reads avidly, and gravitates toward historical queer romance and young adult fantasy, especially when the stakes are high. She’s a fan of awkward first dates unless she’s participating in them, and is outspoken about embracing kink and sex positivity.
Connect with Kit:
You can purchase Rogue Magic from:
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.