City Of Broken Magic (Chronicles Of Amicae Book 1) by Mirah Bolender (book review).

Laura Kramer is an apprentice sweeper and they rid the city of infestations like monsters that grow out of broken amulets. It’s the job she’s always wanted.

But not everyone else in her life feels that way. Her Aunt Morgan thinks that she should quit and take a job more fitting of a woman, so that she can find a man to marry. The city council lie to the population, so that no one believes that infestations are a problem. This situation further escalates as more people in positions of power decide they do not think sweepers are necessary anymore, putting the city in danger of attack from infestations. Can Laura keep her job as a sweeper and save her city from infestations?

‘City Of Broken Magic’ is amazingly well-crafted. It beautifully blends character relationships and growth with action, keeping the reader fully engaged. The story takes many twists and turns, with unexpected links between plotlines that seem completely unrelated to one another, linking together seamlessly.

Laura is a very relatable young woman. Her struggles with her job, relationships with her co-workers and her family and expectations of the local community for her to marry, are all cohesively weaved into her story.

Bolender contrasts Laura’s capable dispatching of infestations, with the misplaced concern and misogyny of visitors to the sweeper shop who think she is incapable of doing her job and should do something else, highlighting the widespread implicit bias against women that exists in society. Furthermore, her self-doubt and desire to find somewhere where she belongs will be very relatable to young women. Laura is a multi-faceted character who is well-developed through the many aspects of her life that are present throughout the novel.

All of this personal development is interwoven with fast-paced action, as the sweepers fight off infestations. The action scenes are gripping and well-crafted. They are generally of a good length to be engaging, but are not overly drawn out, as is the case in many books. Mirah Bollender has also created innovative weapons which her characters use during these scenes.

The magic system is well-developed and fairly well explained. The reader is introduced to aspects of the magic system and the role of sweepers, as Laura progresses with her apprenticeship. The apprenticeship serves as a clever vehicle to deliver world-building in a varied and interesting way, that minimalises info dumping.

My main complaint is that there are a few unresolved plot points at the end of the book and the ending feels a bit rushed. However, this may link in well to a sequel.

Overall, the book is well-crafted, with a strong cast of characters that mixes strong character development with engaging action. I would recommend this book to fantasy fans who like a blend of character relationships and action.

Rebecca Thorne

October 2018

(pub: TOR/Forge. 400 page paperback. Price: $15.99 (US), £11.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-25016-927-3)

check out website: www.tor.com

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