*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*
This book was a surprisingly realistic look into what it might be like if we had magic in our modern-day world, complete with everything from Twitter stalking hot guys to prejudice and hate crimes against mages, and it was that realism that made the book so good. There were even support groups for bound mages (they had to wear magic-suppressing bands on their wrists) and all sorts of other details that really made the integration of mages into our society seem like a real thing.
But never fear, the book didn’t slack on the plot or the characters either; both of those were believable too. I mean, ok, things may have been a bit on the extreme side on occasion, what with the mad scientists and greedy psychopaths, but just in the way that books are, not in a ridiculous way. Every book’s gotta have a villain! (Well, that’s not quite true, but that’s not the point.) And there was actually some disturbing torture/experimentation/sedation-without-consent stuff throughout the book (it was supposed to be disturbing, so I’m not complaining, just warning anyone who might want to know). Back to what I was saying though, the two main characters in the story were just kind of… normal guys, but in a good way. Even the way they used modern words and colloquialisms in their thoughts gave them realistic but still unique voices as twenty-somethings and brought me deeper into the story and their POVs.
I also loved that the psychological effects of Levi’s treatment (imprisonment, torture) were taken into account and not glossed over. Throughout the book he had emotional trauma and panic attacks, and the author did a good job of helping me understand what he was going through. And I loved the way the other characters were understanding and soothing whenever Levi started panicking, as well as they way they always made it a point to ask his permission before doing anything to him or that involved him, even something as simple as carrying him back to his room when he couldn’t walk or staying in the room as he fell asleep. Really that should just be common human decency, but it was especially important with how out of control of his own life Levi felt, and I loved Byron and Victoria for it.
Oh, there was also romance, and it was nice, but it seemed like more of a secondary thing to the whole saving-Levi-and-starting-a-revolution plot.
So overall, this was a realistic urban fantasy that delved into the possible social and societal implications of magic in our modern world but still had likeable, just-like-you-and-me characters, and I enjoyed it!
M/M urban fantasy readers who want something that has magic but is still modern and realistic and that deals with social issues.