Queer Book Club: The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles

The Magpie Lord cover

The Magpie Lord is an adult M/M fantasy romance, set in an alternative regency era Britain where magic exists. Magician, Stephen Day, is employed by Lucien Vaudrey, Lord Crane, to resolve a curse. Lucien’s late father and brother ruined Stephen’s father and he’s not keen to work for Lucien, but it seems that Lucien also suffered and was exiled at their hands. Having spent most of his life in Singapore, living on his wits, Lucien turns out not to be the typical spoiled aristocrat Stephen expects. And Stephen’s father is not the only one to have suffered at their hands.

I picked this up as I read a review that suggested it was the M/M romance version of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, one of my favourite books. It isn’t that. It’s much more straightforward and less detailed than Susanna Clarke’s novel, but it’s probably an unfair comparison. The world building and magic is still well done and makes up the majority of the plot. I found the curse and its origins to be interesting and complex enough to hold my attention throughout. The magical world is original and fully realised. I always enjoy a fantasy setting the breaks from the traditional medieval one.

Although there’s some steamy chemistry between the two male leads, it’s one of those romances that teases much more than it delivers. There was also more of a hint of power exchange in the relationship than materialised, although I still enjoyed it. This is part of a series (A Charm of Magpies) and I’m told there’s much more smut in follow-ups. I’ll admit to being a little impatient where this sort of thing is concerned, so it might not bother other readers. There’s plenty of plot to keep you entertained, anyway.

Overall, it’s worth a look for the fantasy side of things and if you like romance that teases and makes you wait. I enjoyed the dynamic between the two leads, though I felt some of the chemistry was created by a promise that wasn’t entirely delivered upon.

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