Tuesday, December 8, 2015

2016 Most Anticipated - A Criminal Magic

The 1920's have always fascinated me. When I heard about this book, with it's mix of 1920's setting and magic, I knew it was going to make this year's list.

This Goodreads synopsis will immediately pique your interest. I mean Peaky Blinders meets The Night Circus. Both of these things are awesome on their own, never mind mixing them together!
THE NIGHT CIRCUS meets PEAKY BLINDERS in Lee Kelly's new magical realism, crossover novel.

Magic is powerful, dangerous and addictive - and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.

It's 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city's magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters' crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer's shine.

Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC's most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family's home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.

Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic - and when their paths cross at the Shaws' performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

A CRIMINAL MAGIC casts a spell of magic, high stakes and intrigue against the backdrop of a very different Roaring Twenties.
This seriously has EVERYTHING I want to read in a book - a historical setting with a twist, forbidden romance, and magic!

Lee kindly took the time to answer a few questions. She shares some research she did, talks about what a drink inspired by the book might be like, and much more.

1 Describe A Criminal Magic using only three words.

Prohibition, gangsters, magic.

2 If someone were to make a signature drink in honour of your book, what might be included?

I thought you’d never ask ?.  Since the book takes place in a fictional version of the 1920s where magic has been prohibited, naturally there is “magic contraband” (i.e., otherworldly elixirs and drugs that are sold on the black market).  And one of the most sought-after, dangerous, euphoric elixirs out there is called “the sorcerer’s shine” – which is water turned into pure magic by a sorcerer’s magic touch.  The elixir is bright red, and almost looks carbonated due to the jolt of magic used to make the elixir.  So a drink like an alcoholic Shirley Temple would probably make a good stand-in “sorcerer’s shine.”

3 Let us in on one secret about one of your characters, or the world they inhabit.

I guess one of the major things about the world of A CRIMINAL MAGIC is that a lot of the criminal underworld and black market magic in the novel have true historical roots.  In the real Twenties, gangsters had all kinds of tricks for transporting and selling illegal alcohol during Prohibition – for example, savvy smugglers would find ways to avoid the coast guard, drive out to a place called Rum Row (a spot in the Atlantic Ocean right behind U.S. water borders where international boats would park with their goods), and then purchase these goods outside of the reach of the law.  In A CRIMINAL MAGIC, sorcerers manipulate coast guard radio signals with magic, cloak deals with protective shields, and aid their gangster counterparts on their way out to a similar spot in the water called Magic Row, where international magic contraband (like a Bahamian death-brew called “obi” and an Irish hallucinogen called “fae dust”) are traded.  

4 Your novel is set in the 1920's. What sort of research did you do for that time period? 

A bunch, actually!  Even though my story is obviously fictional (and “my Twenties” involves prohibited magic instead of alcohol), I wanted the story to “feel” like the real Jazz Age.  So I must have spent months researching before even brainstorming my alternative world – watching documentaries, reading books, taking library trips, scouring microfiche, websites…. I even splurged and bought a 1926 Sears, Roebuck catalogue to make sure clothing and household items that I was referencing were appropriate.  My two most helpful resources were probably the multi-part documentary called PROHIBITION, directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, and the book, LAST CALL: THE RISE AND FALL OF PROHIBITION, by Daniel Okrent.

5 If you could travel to anywhere, in any time period, when and where would you want travel?

Naturally, 1920s America would have to be up there (and maybe in New York, as the clubs and speakeasies there were supposed to be amazing)!  But I’d also love to travel to California during the Gold Rush, and Europe during the Renaissance Period.

6 What 2016 release are you most anticipating?

There are so many, but at the top of my list are HEARTS MADE OF BLACK by Stephanie Garber, which got me hooked on synopsis alone (sisters, The Night Circus, Sleep No More?  count me in!) and Kim Liggett’s THE LAST HARVEST (I had the pleasure of reading her first draft which was amazingly creepy).  Both are due out in Fall 2016.

7. If not too spoilery, can you share the first line of A Criminal Magic.

“Magic can achieve a lot of things, but it can’t undo the past.”

The launch party has to feature a non alcoholic version of that drink served in glasses that look like the one on the cover, right?! It sounds perfect. If anyone invents a time machine, I totally volunteer to go back to the 1920's with you, Lee (as long as we can go to a speakeasy)! I, also, am very excited for CARAVAL (used to be titled HEARTS MADE OF BLACK) and loved that it made her list, too.

A Criminal Magic releases February 2, 2016 and can be pre-ordered right now from any retailer.

You can also follow Lee on Twitter, visit her official website, and find out more about her books on the publisher website.

** Lee is also having a pre-order campaign for some AMAZING notebooks (seriously, they are fantastic). Find out all the details on how to claim one by visiting the ICEY BOOKS website.**

Be sure to stop by tomorrow to find out the next book that made this year's list!

Are you a fan of books that incorporate a historical setting? If so what is your favourite time period? What about books that involved magic? Let me know in the comments.

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