ARC Review: A Murder of Mages by Marshall Ryan Maresca

ARC Review: A Murder of Mages by Marshall Ryan Maresca
A Murder of Mages
The Maradaine Constabulary #1
by Marshall Ryan Maresca

Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Mystery
Publication date: July 7th, 2015
by DAW

Format: eARC

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Satrine Rainey—former street rat, ex-spy, mother of two, and wife to a Constabulary Inspector who lies on the edge of death, injured in the line of duty—has been forced to fake her way into the post of Constabulary Inspector to support her family.

Minox Welling is a brilliant, unorthodox Inspector and an Uncircled mage—almost a crime in itself. Nicknamed “the jinx” because of the misfortunes that seem to befall anyone around him, Minox has been partnered with Satrine because no one else will work with either of them.

Their first case together—the ritual murder of a Circled mage— sends Satrine back to the streets she grew up on and brings Minox face-to-face with mage politics he’s desperate to avoid. As the body count rises, Satrine and Minox must race to catch the killer before their own secrets are exposed and they, too, become targets.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

It’s always so refreshing to read a fantasy novel after not having read one in a while, and this one came with the added advantage of also being a mystery, so it was a book set out to win my heart. The sad thing is that I ended up not falling head over heels for the book even though I had lots of fun reading it.  I felt like there was a spark missing that prevented me from feeling right at home with the novel.

This review is going to take on a slightly different format then my previous ones (NO I AM NOT BEING LAZY) in that I am going to divide it into three distinct parts: The world building, the characters and the plot. Those are the things that I found to be the most important in the novel (and usually most other novels) and want to focus solely on those aspects instead of other little things.

The World Building

World building, in my opinion, is one of the most important things in a fantasy novel but the world building in this novel wasn’t all that great. It was there, and there were details, but there were only minimal details. Details that would make sure we understood the story but not much else. I don’t like being left in the dark about fantastical elements which is why it was kind of a big disappointment that this book didn’t go into as many details. We’re told there had been wars, we are told about mage circles and about mages themselves but I am left with so many questions. Like what was the war about? Who was the fight against? What are the other regions surrounding the setting of the book? Are mages the only supernatural creatures in the world? What’s the government like? There were so many aspects to the world that weren’t explored and that made it harder for me to really feel at home in the world. I think, the lack of focus on the world building could be the result of the fact that this book is primarily a mystery, but it is set in a fantastical world that is clearly different from our world which is why I felt that the world needed to be established a little more.

The Plot

This brings me to the plot. I think the mystery elements were a lot better done in the novel as opposed to the fantastical elements and that doesn’t come as a surprise. I think the plot was pretty solid except for that moment when the identity of the murderer was actually revealed. Do you ever have those moments when reading a mystery when you’re expecting a turn that will just swoop you off your foot and make you go “OMG, THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE” and instead you get a firecracker that didn’t go off right? That was my reaction to the identity of the murderer. The murderer wasn’t predictable at all and not in a good way. That said, the pacing in the novel was great and I was never bored. I think the author put a lot of detail into developing the investigation itself and that paid off because it was very believable but also really exciting. A little bit of foreshadowing, I think could have helped but that’s just me as a reader.  I like being surprised but I also like it when there are legitimate clues to pick up on that can help you guess the identity of a killer with some accuracy.

The Characters

The characters in the novel are clearly the highlight. I actually went into the book thinking there might be a romance between the two main character but I turned out to be wrong. There is no romance between the two characters and NO romantic tension. I guess I am just so used to expecting romance in a lot of what I read that I am surprised when there isn’t one.

Satrine and Minox have a fantastic dynamic and it all comes from the fact that they are very intelligent and observant investigators that work well together. They read each other well and have each other’s backs and I LOVE that sort of dynamic between partners (it doesn’t always have to be romantic). I also just love the two as individuals.

Satrine had a rough upbringing and after a stunt in the Druth Intelligence, she managed to find a nice HEA which was disrupted when her husband was beaten within an inch of his life. Now, she has to go out and find a way to earn money to support her family. It’s easy to root for her especially since she can be so witty and SO BADASS.

Minox is also really charming in the way he never outwardly expresses his feelings but you know they are there. I also love how intelligent he is and how determined he is to bring justice and make sure cases are solved to his satisfaction.

This novel, on the whole, while not up to standards in some departments also featured some diversity but also a lot more females than can usually be found in this genre (females who work and females who go to school and university!!!) which already gives it more plus points in my opinion.

This is not a perfect read but one that is still very enjoyable and I can only hope that the following books in the series will get better and win me over completely!

NOTE: Half way through writing this review I just realized that there is another series set in the same world and the first book just came out this year… I GUESS I HAVE SOME READING TO DO.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
World-building
Overall: 3.5
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Rashika

Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).

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  1. says

    Still looking for that one fantasy book that I could easily jump on the bandwagon for. While this sounds good, I really am on the look out for that ‘great one’. :) Great review, Rashika.

  2. says

    I’d never even heard about this one, but you got my attention with fantasy+mystery!! I’m bummed that the fantasy elements weren’t properly developed though :( To me, world-building is SUPER important as you said, so I hate when I feel left in the dark when it comes to how the world is set up and how it all works. That being said, it’s good that the mystery aspect was done in a much more satisfactory way! Especially coupled with how the plot was tight and you never got bored while reading. The biggest surprise for me is that the characters were the biggest standout here. As much as I love my world-building, I also consider myself a character reader so that’s really a big plus for me! Not to mention the no romance at all. What a refreshing change of pace :D Thanks for putting this one on my radar Rashika!! ♥
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  3. says

    I’ve noticed with most fantasy novels, it’s either focused on well developed characters or world building, it’s a pity most authors can’t really balance both. I love that there’s no romance, nothing even alluding to it either. I guess that’s the marvel of reading adult rather than young adult, there are no messy relationships of sexual tension. I might see what you think of the next in the series before committing, as most fantasy tends to be a hit and miss for me lately. Wonderful review Rashika, glad you could enjoy this for the most part <3
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