Interesting story

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3.5 Stars rounded up because I am between feelings and I think this book deserves a bit higher rating than what it has.

Thank you BookishFirst for my finished copy, all opinions are my own.

I'll start with the biggest issue first. Both so that you don't need to read multiple reviews (they all complain about the same things), and so you know why so many people gave this a bad review. I mean, it's not a terrible book, but there is something terrible thrown in there. So, you know, (view spoiler) I am in no way saying any of this is okay, and as a white woman I urge you to read some Own Voices reviews, but it's not like this entire book can be represented by one characters actions.

Okay, the plot gets a little confusing at times too, but it just kept me invested. I mean, at the beginning it seemed like the main plot was to save magic, but then there seemed to be a big focus on police brutality and how much they abused their power. And how some would rather turn people "normal" than admit magic exists in this world. Basically, this book was trying to be a lot all at once. It kept me interested, but it also had me wondering "what is the point of this story?" I know this is a duology so there is hope answers will come in the sequel, but the author definitely has some work cut out for them.

Onto the good things! I loved the diverse, queer cast of characters. Jesse can shift between female and male presenting forms (physically, junk and all), and ultimately comes out wanting to use They/Them pronouns. I love the journey Jesse went on throughout this story, and it has me wondering if the (nonbinary) author went on a similar journey(barring the magical bits). Jack is a queer female that can topple any man, and does so repeatedly, but also has a soft spot for her sister and looks out for her own. David is the proclaimed "Hero" of the story (but also maybe not?) and I enjoyed his discovery of magic and ambition to studying it through science. And Turing, I think she went through so much more in this book than others gave credit for.

Turing is repeatedly called "daughter of the river" yet is consistently gendered as male by others, and she never even corrects them. It isn't until the very end of the book that others realize differently, so I went into this thinking maybe she would come out as nonbinary as well, but she just let things happen to her. She is such a complex character and I don't want to give too much away, but I found myself sympathizing with her and wanting to know more about her!

The magic in this book is interesting, and it has a kind of 'magic is whatever you want it to be' type vibe to it. We see more of it in the second half of the book, but I enjoyed seeing how it worked and how it affected others. The saving of magic portion of the book did feel a bit rushed, and we don't ever truly learn the cause of why it disappeared (I think? Maybe?), but again we have a second book to look forward to. The writing in this story pulled me in, and the book started with a very strong prologue. I am definitely interested in seeing how this story will end.

Overall, the writing was really beautiful even if the plot was confusing at times. There is a diverse cast of characters, and between their demeaners and some of the stuff that happens in this book I would classify it as NA instead of YA. One very racist action is made by one of the characters, but they do backpedal and admit they were wrong in their actions. There is a lot going on in this book, but it kept things interesting and I look forward to seeing how the author concludes the stories for these four characters.