Monday, May 28, 2018

ARC Review: Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe

Ruthless Magic
Author: Megan Crewe
Series: Conspiracy of Magic (Book 1)
Publication: Another World Press (May 30, 2018)

Description: In the contest to keep their magic, the only options may be die... or kill.

Each year, the North American Confederation of Mages assesses every sixteen-year-old novice. Some will be chosen. The rest must undergo a procedure to destroy their magical ability unless they prove themselves in the mysterious and brutal Mages' Exam.

Disadvantaged by her parents' low standing, Rocío Lopez has dedicated herself to expanding her considerable talent to earn a place in the Confederation. Their rejection leaves her reeling—and determined to fight to keep her magic.

Long ashamed of his mediocre abilities, Finn Lockwood knows the Confederation accepted him only because of his prominent family. Declaring for the Exam instead means a chance to confirm his true worth.

Thrown into the testing with little preparation, Rocío and Finn find themselves becoming unlikely allies—and possibly more. But the Exam holds secrets more horrifying than either could have imagined. What are the examiners really testing them for? And as the trials become increasingly vicious, how much are they willing to sacrifice to win?

The first in a new series by USA Today bestselling author Megan Crewe, Ruthless Magic combines the magic of Harry Potter with the ferocity of The Hunger Games alongside a poignant romance. Fans of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, look no further for your next urban fantasy fix.

My Thoughts: This first in a new urban fantasy series is told from two points of view. Finn Lockwood is a magician without too much ability but he knows his future is set because his family has had a prominent place in the magical elite. Rocio Lopez is a much more talented magician but her family doesn't have that history. Both of her parents have been Dampered - had their magical ability throttled down to just minor abilities.

When each reaches the age of sixteen, they are sent letters letting them know if they have been admitted to college or were scheduled to have their magic Dampered. Finn was accepted but his best friend Prisha Mathurs, from a new-magic family but a much better magician than Finn, was not. Rocio was also denied entrance into the college.

There is a third option for those not admitted to the college. Students can sign up for the Mages' Exam which is a secret and brutally hard test but survivors become Champions and keep their magic. Prisha and Rocio see the Mages' Exam as their only chance to keep their magic and declare for it. Finn wants to prove himself and support his best friend so he declares for the Exam too.

Most of this story takes place during the Mages' Exam when all of those who choose to take it are tested in a variety of cruel and dangerous ways. Finn, Prisha, Rocio and a few other students band together to help each other. The more Finn sees the more he comes to realize that the whole system has some serious flaws. He sees that Rocio, who is the best magician Finn knows, has almost no chance of success simply because she isn't from an established family.

Rocio is determined to succeed both to prove herself and to find out what happened when her brother Javi chose for the Mages' Exam and died in the process of it. She is determined not to let the examiners chance her morals and values. Rocio and Finn also fall in love during the course of their trials as each sees and appreciates the other's strengths as the tests pit student against student and friend against friend.

I thought the world building was interesting positing a magical community alongside the human community that outs itself and positions itself to help the human community. Of course, that is just one of the reasons they came out. Another one was to be able to openly battle with the other magical communities in other countries. It is easy to see that the magical elite are self-serving and borderline corrupt and want to hold on to their powers and limit the number of magic users even though Finn is slow to see it and reluctant to believe it. I liked what Finn and Rocio learn about the nature of magic itself during their Exam.

This is the first book in a new series and I am very curious about what will happen next for Finn and Rocio.

Favorite Quote:
"New-magic candidates have no established family record of behavior or loyalty. The Circle has higher requirements for skill to overcome that basic concern. If there's anything worrisome in the family history, they take that into account as well. Which isn't to say I agree with all of their reasoning--"

Normally Dad's calm, measured way of speaking comforted me. Now I only felt ill. "That isn't reasoning. That's...that's just prejudice."
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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