I was fortunate to receive an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher and author through Netgalley in exchange for feedback and my honest review. These are my opinions, uninfluenced.
The Magi Menagerie by Kale Lawrence is a historical fiction slash fantasy set to release on September 7th 2021. For as long as Ezra has known, his parents have been travelling from the Ottoman Empire and across 20th Century Europe. On their journey, Ezra’s mother is murdered by a bounty hunter and his father is forced into a life on the run. Ezra soon learns that his family has been on the run and now their enemies will do everything to see Ezra dead.
In a moment of desperation, Ezra’s fate collides with the Third Order of the Magi, a secret society dedicated to using their supernatural powers to protect their communities. With increasing violence around the world, the Magi are fairly certain they know who’s behind the attacks on Ezra and his family since the same group could also be threatening their own existence.
Both Ezra and the Magi’s survival hinges on knowledge only Ezra’s father has and the key to saving them could be buried within history itself. In a race across continents and time, both Ezra and the Magi must secure an ancient Babylonian artifact before hell is unleashed on the world. And, against all odds, Ezra must decide where his allegiances truly lie, despite what is written in the stars.
The story is told from Ezra’s and Jonas’ point of view. Ezra was a really interesting character. Through out his journey, I felt for him. There were even a few times that my eyes welled up. I felt frustrated when he was frustrated, and I felt just as lost when he was left to his devices. Jonas, is a Magus, a part of the Third Order of the Magi. The minute we meet Jonas, I loved him. I loved reading from his point of view and seeing the politics that he dealt with.
There’s a romance arc between Jonas and another male character and I was so here it. I liked how the dangers of a LGBTQIA relationship in that period of time was done. I felt so scared for them. Although, the forbidden romance was definitely welcomed. I ate it up.
I liked all of the supporting characters as well, they felt like they had their own personalities. The story also has the ‘found family’ trope, which I’m a sucker for. It was well executed and added to my enjoyment.
The worldbuilding was handled well. By the end of the book, I had a fairly good understanding of the magic system and the politics. I didn’t feel bored by an big portions of info dumps. Instead, there were little bits of information woven into the story.
As soon as I got to the end, and I read the cliffhanger that we ended on, I wanted to scream. I cannot wait for the next book.
I just want to take a moment to appreciate the diversity in this book. I don’t practice Islam nor am I queer, but the topics handled in the book felt like they were done well.
I’m still not able to put my finger on it, but something felt amiss for me. I think it may just have been my mood. So I’m adding this to my pile of books to re-read so I can give it the proper shot it deserves.
I highly recommend this for anyone that likes a good worldbuilding, great characters, forbidden romance and the ‘found family’ trope.