Book Review: Blackwell (Magnus Blackwell Book 1) by Alexandrea Weis with Lucas Astor

Jacob O'Connor, a poor orphan boy attending school on scholarship, and Magnus Blackwell, a wealthy New Englander from a well-known family, become unlikely friends when they meet at Harvard in the architecture program, but that friendship becomes rocky when Jacob gets the girl Magnus wants. Magnus goes to New Orleans to distance himself but is unable to move on from his desire for revenge and instead awakens a whole new darkness inside himself.

Title: Blackwell
Book Number: Book 1 of TBA
Pages: 300
My Rating: 1.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*

This book started off promising—great writing, a historical setting I had never read about before (late 1800s New England and New Orleans), seemingly interesting characters—but it went downhill from there.

I loved that this book had a villain as the main character because that’s a rare thing to find. He wasn’t some sympathetic, secretly-a-good-guy flop of a villain either; he was despicable. And even though he didn’t have the best childhood/past, it was never used as some tragic excuse for his behavior. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the only thing I ended up liking.

The main problem was Magnus’s character. For one thing, he was inconsistent—happy for his friend, wants revenge on his friend, loves the girl, just wants to bed the girl, motivated by obsession, motivated by revenge… His leap from typical douche bag to vengeful psychopath was also kind of sudden.

He was also too unrealistically open. Upon meeting Oscar and Madam Simone, he told them all about how he wanted revenge on his best friend for marrying the girl he wanted and discussed his preferences for a specific type of sex. The next day he told his whole life story to Oscar, all about how his father constantly told him he’d be a failure, how he hasn’t felt anything since his mother died, etc. Most people don’t open up about their emotional scars to acquaintances.

Most importantly though, if you’re going to make your main character a terrible, unlikeable person, he needs to be interesting, and Magnus just fell flat to me in that regard.

There was also this whole Oscar Wilde aspect (he was an actual character in the book), but it felt off. I didn’t understand why they so suddenly became friends. And Oscar’s character was either extremely stupid or extremely brave because he knew how vengeful and psychopathic Magnus was, yet not only did he remain friends with him, he also constantly called him out on the terrible things he did and then told him that Dorian Gray was based on him. I don’t know about you, but I’d be insulted if Dorian Grey was based after me, and insulting a murderous psychopath seems like a really bad idea.

Speaking of which, there was also this one whole scene in which Magnus had a dinner party with Oscar, Jacob, Frances, and others, and they all started blatantly talking about Magnus being a terrible person, and it just seemed strange. Characters seemed to behave oddly in general.

The death investigation didn’t seem realistic either. One cop casually questioned one person and immediately decided, *SPOILER ALERT* “Well then it was obviously suicide! No more investigation needed.” *END SPOILER ALERT*

As for the plot, it was slow-paced and took a long time for anything to really happen. The book seemed like more of a setup for future books. And the ending was kind of sudden with one of the characters acting in a way that was very unlike him. Maybe his behavior was supposed to be explained by the voodoo, but the voodoo hardly even had any part in the book. I’m not even sure what genre to call this since there was a lot of talk of voodoo but not much to show for it. But I’m guessing future books will probably be more paranormal.

Lastly, this is not a negative thing, but I want to mention that this book is not for the faint of heart. There was *TRIGGER WARNING* womanizing, brothels, sex, rape (mostly off screen), violence, and some horrifying treatment of women (which is not a complaint about the author, it was just the time during which the book was set and the actions of the characters). *END TRIGGER WARNING* You’ve been warned.

So overall I was really excited about having a legitimate, despicable villain as a protagonist, but he ended up feeling flat and inconsistent, and the slow-moving story felt more like a setup and just didn’t grip me.


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  1. chucklesthescot

    It wouldn’t be my kind of thing really…I’m not a great fan of historical setting books except The Tudors and maybe the odd war one or old plague era. I very much enjoyed your review though and there was good detail in it about what you thought on plot and character. Great review!

  2. Bookworm Brandee

    I’ve been waiting to see this review because I was excited about this book as well but then you told me it didn’t really work for you. I am sorry about that because it certainly sounded promising. And a villain for an MC?!? *sigh* Too bad the story was so uneven. It really seems like the author couldn’t decide who, exactly, Magnus was. Well, I suppose on the bright side, it’s one less book to read. 😉

    1. Kristen Burns

      I like your optimism, haha. But yeah, I was so excited to find a book with a villain as an MC and ended up being so disappointed :-/ Maybe I’ll find a good villainous MC book eventually!

  3. Cee Arr

    The Dude: “Hi, my name is Magnus, nice to meet you. Let me tell you my tragic life story, complete with pictures and diagrams; please keep any questions until the end.” XD

  4. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Sorry to hear this book was such a disappointment. I got all excited hearing the magic words of New Orleans (I have a soft spot for that city and love seeing books set there) and so hearing that this was an inconsistent flop is sad to hear. I can see why you found it so frustrating, I hate when first books in series do lots of introduction and have very little story in them. Do authors forget that first books are about hooking people in? You can forgive an author a poor second book in a series as there is still chance to redeem themselves but never the first book.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, New Orleans is a great setting, but not even that much of the book was set there. But yes, seriously this should’ve been a prequel or it should’ve been shorted and included more of what happens next or something. I might’ve liked it more had it actually gotten into the paranormal aspects.

      1. Italia Gandolfo

        Kristen, what would you think about a sneak peak of the next book in the series, set in current day? You are the only reviewer who hasn’t liked BLACKWELL, including national reviews, so I’m interested to get your thoughts on book two. Are you game? 🙂

  5. Wattle

    The synopsis sounded so good! But the more I read of your review the more I went ‘uuuuh pass’ 🙁 pity, I wish there were more villains as main characters; because they are often the most flawed and interesting. This one doesn’t sound like it though.