The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles is the first in the ‘A Charm of Magpies’ series.
My Rating: 10/10
Thank God for this book. And that’s coming from an atheist.
I had all but given up on getting back into reading for fun after several disappointing attempts. I have cruised the m/m book lists on goodreads for what feels like ages for anything that might tickle my fancy: horror, pirates, my usual fare. Every list, hell everywhere I turned in the m/m book community, books by KJ Charles kept popping up. But I strolled on by, because the summaries were all of a particular whimsical fantasy style I rarely enjoy.
So one day, as I was slithering along, looking for something new to read, I happened upon The Magpie Lord for free on Amazon. Why the hell not? I’ve been seeing this author’s name everywhere. Might as well see what all the hullabaloo was about. Then I let it rot in my kindle for a month as one does when they mistakenly think they have more promising books on their to-read pile.
Then, one night, this magical thing happened. I started reading it.
Maybe I’m exaggerating, but it’s been years since I’ve felt that rush — that inability to put a good book down — so allow me my dramatics.
The Magpie Lord eases you in well enough. Introduces the characters: Lucien Crane with his loyal manservant Merrick, having arrived recently from an adventurous life in China. He finds himself under a mysterious curse that he fears will kill him sooner than later, and so they seek out a ‘practitioner’. Someone versed in the… occult, I guess? I dunno why I’m dancing around the word magic; it’s definitely magic.
And that is how he meets the emaciated little spitfire of a man, Stephen Day.
What follows is what you’d expect. A paranormal mystery with a whimsical fantasy feel. Not completely unlike what you’d expect from a Neil Gaiman book or other famous names. I am woefully unread in this particular subgenre, so you’ll get no fancy pants references here. And it’s because of this idea I had about the genre that I expected the romantic part of this book to be vague, cute, whimsical, and all those typical, vanilla, fade-to-black things.
I was wrong. About a lot, apparently.
Because this whimsical fantasy got hot. Once that sexual tension came into play, and it teased at it a few times before it really got going, but it hit hard. KJ Charles didn’t fade to black on us. Didn’t shy away from pressing bodies and heated words. The lust wasn’t vague; it was precise. It was awesome, and I was here for it.
And even with that sweltering chemistry happening, the plot continued to grip at me. The magic, the drama, interactions with side characters, good and bad, every moment of this book bled intensity, with dashes of whimsy and not the other way around like I expected.
This author is a talent. A rare one in my humble estimation. Honestly, I wasn’t even halfway through when I decided I was definitely springing for physical copies of this whole damn series. Easiest rating I’ve ever given, hands down. 10/10
Sam Clover is a published author of M/M fiction. Though she dabbles in a variety of genres, dark themes always find ways to permeate her work. She is a prairie girl from east of the Canadian Rockies, and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Her debut book “Cold Snap” was released by Ninestar Press in December of 2020.