Book Review

Notorious Sorcerer

Notorious Sorcerer

  • Author: Davinia Evans
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Publication Date: September 13, 2022
  • Publisher: Orbit Books
  • Series: The Burnished City #1

Thank you to Orbit Books and Angela Man for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: prejudice, violence, blood, murder

Welcome to Bezim, where sword-slinging, bravi race through the night, and where rich and idle alchemists make magic out of mixing and measuring the four planes of reality.

Siyon Velo, Dockside brat turned petty alchemist, scrapes a living hopping between the planes to harvest ingredients for the city’s alchemists. But when Siyon accidentally commits and act of impossible magic, he’s catapulted into the limelight—which is a bad place to be when the planes start lurching out of alignment, threatening to send the city into the sea.

It will take a miracle to save Bezim. Good thing Siyon has pulled off the impossible before. Now he has to master it.

A dazzling fantasy debut bursting with wild magic, chaotic sword-fighting street gangs, brazen flirting, malevolent harpies, and one defiant alchemist.

This looked like such an intriguing debut novel, and I couldn’t resist it when I was offered the chance to read it. The cover is a stunner, and I was pulled into the hype. It doesn’t hurt that it’s blurbed by some of my favorite authors, so my expectations were fairly high for this one.

However, within the first few chapters, I wasn’t quite sure what I was reading. Readers are thrown headlong into the action with absolutely no warning, and the only way I can describe it is like starting a movie in the middle of everything. It didn’t really give me a chance to develop a feel for the world, the magic system, or the characters, and I spent probably the first quarter of the book wondering what the hell was going on. As a result, I didn’t get a chance to really bond with the characters, and found it really hard to get invested in the story.

There’s a lot of action in the story, however. We race from one tense situation to the next, with very little break between them. While this makes for a fast-paced story, it doesn’t really give us time to see the characters themselves, or watch them grow and change, or even have the space to experience their emotions. They’re too busy just trying to achieve their next goal, or avoid the inquisitors.

Since there’s so much going on, we also get very little time to adapt to the world. It’s a complicated world, and we’re thrown right into the middle of it. There isn’t any info-dumping, but this is a prime example of a situation where providing a bit of information would be helpful. I might have adjusted to the world and understood what was happening a lot faster if I had more knowledge about the world itself. Everything is just kind of figure it out as you go, and I had so many questions about the world and the magic, some of which I wasn’t able to get answers to, even by the end of the book.

By the end of the book, I had a better understanding of what was going on, but since I never really got attached to the characters or the world itself, I wan’t as invested as I might have been, so the stakes didn’t feel as high to me. I kind of figured out what was going to happen in advance, so things were a bit more predictable than I would have liked, but overall it wasn’t a bad story. I just think that the writing style wasn’t a great fit for me, and I’m most likely not going to be continuing on with this series, which is a shame, because it had so much potential.

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