In A Queer Trade, a warlock’s papers get accidentally thrown out, and his apprentice tries to get them back from the waste man before they can cause magical chaos. In Rag & Bone, magic practitioner Crispin and waste-man Ned start looking into strange deaths of rag and bottle shop workers when no one else bothers to. In Priddy’s Tale, a lonely young man working in a lighthouse rescues someone from a shipwreck only to later find out he’s a merman. Enjoy my mini reviews for these three m/m paranormal/urban fantasy books!
A Queer Trade by KJ Charles
This was cute! A short story (or maybe novelette) that's part of the A Charm of Magpies world, but I could see it working as a standalone if you just wanted to read this. As part of the series, it functions as a prequel to Rag and Bone, introduces you to two new characters, and shows how their relationship starts. I liked these new characters---Crispin, a magic practitioner tired of people's assumptions about him being weak and meek, and Ned, a paper waste-man hardened a bit by prejudice against him but still jovial and sweet. They dove into a relationship rather fast, but I wasn't too bothered. It was cool seeing a different kind of magic in this one, since Crispin was technically a warlock using blood magic, and the chaos the magic caused was fun. It's frustrating though that this isn't included with Rag and Bone or available as an audiobook since it's maybe not 100% necessary but does give the character and relationship backstory, which is important. Anyway, I recommend reading it before Rag and Bone if you can. I enjoyed this fun little story!
Rag and Bone by KJ Charles
This was another great book in the A Charm of Magpies world! All the characters in this series have been so different and unique, with different relationship dynamics and struggles, and Crispin and Ned were no exception. Crispin, always feeling inadequate, and tired of everyone making assumptions that he's weak. Ned, tired of being judged for being Black and gay, but jovial, friendly, and a practical person who just gets the job done, whatever the job is. It was cute how both characters felt like they weren't good or interesting enough for the other and thought so highly of the other without even realizing that the other felt the same way about them. I also loved that Crispin and Ned were characters who liked being physically intimate, liked touching each other and getting each other off, but didn't like penetration, so they just didn't do that. You almost never see that in m/m (or m/f) books. The plot was good too, and I really liked getting to see more of a different form of magic (graphomancy---using magic by writing and drawing). It was also interesting to see the way this one overlapped with Jackdaw, and to see Stephen from multiple different POVs, since other characters see him very differently than he sees himself or Lucien sees him. Last but not least, the narration by Cornell Collins was yet again great---natural, engaging, and fitting for the characters. Overall, I really liked this!
Side Note: I'm not clear yet on whether this is another extra in the A Charm of Magpies world or the start to a new spin-off series that will have a few books about these two as main characters. It ended in a way that was satisfactory (no hanging threads) but definitely left the option for more.
Priddy's Tale by Harper Fox
I enjoyed this, even though I can't say it was super memorable. Priddy was a recovering drug addict, still struggling with the effects of an overdose months after the incident, and the author did a good job of making me feel for him and understand his situation. He made a mistake by taking those drugs, but his life growing up wasn't so great, and he was a good person. Merou, however, was kind of a dick. So that made it hard for me to understand why Priddy would fall so madly, I'd-die-for-you, together-forever in love with him, especially in such a short period of time. And that was a problem for me, considering this was a romance. This author's take on merfolk was unique though, since they could not only swim through water but also through time. It gave them a lot of different abilities. The audiobook narration by Chris Clog was great; it sounded natural, and I could easily differentiate characters. Overall, this was an enjoyable and sweet story.