Ah, what a wonderful transition from a fantasy world with realistic history similar to our own, that of Captive Prince, to this. Our very England, filled with warlocks and what not. “The Magpie Lord” by K.J. Charles (ISBN 1619215764; 200p.; Goodreads) was yet another recommendation I took from Bonnie Burton (not personally, but the book club she’s in, and her goodreads are good sources for curious, open minded, and ever searching people), and once again, it did not disappoint.
Lucien Crane Vaudrey was the bad and rotten son in his father’s eyes. Thus, when this became possible, he packed the boy off to Shanghai, informing his servant that there’d be no tears if the lad fell over board during the journey. It says nothing good of Lucien, especially knowing what the rest of his family is like. Folk already learned to avoid the Vaudreys, and expect no justice from them. In fact, they’re realizing they might have to take justice in their own hands, for otherwise innocent blood will continue to flow as the father and son pleased. We could imagine here a mob, pitchforks and torches. But why the bother when there’s a witch at hand?…
After whole Vaudrey family took their own lives due to sudden madness, Lucien has no other choice but to return and take care of all the legal matters one has to take care of when one is the new Earl. He didn’t plan to stay long in the country, and at best – stay in London, up until first nuisance, attempt to arrest him for his orientation (being gay was illegal in those times, and thus the reason he was exiled too), or such, then he’s off, back home, to Shanghai. It’s just that the madness that pushed his father and brother to suicide seems to be lurking in his blood too. Dark spots in his memory, and vision, voices. Getting back to your own mind, with your servant trying to take away the knife that you didn’t use all that delicately in attempt to carve your life out of yourself. This can’t continue. Either he’ll go mad, or… Merrick, with his lord’s blessing, went out to the darkest places of London in hopes to find help that would’ve been at hand in an open-minded Shanghai. He needs a Shaman. After all, all England cannot hate Vaudreys, can they?
I love how they used magic, how magicians a.k.a. practitioners are like vampires here: they need energy, and can very well take it from a person, even if it means taking their life in the process. I loved how Merrick reminded me lightly of Sebastian Michaelis (Kuroshitsuji), allowing little slips in courtesy towards his master now and then. And I loved how it all reminded me of the intense adventures I had with Bartimaeus, where walls shook from the power of those entities summoned. Oh, and not to forget, I loved how “prince charming” was a tiny, thin, redheaded man with crooked teeth. 5 out of 5, no less.