Super cool queer magical heist noir novella that is free to read !
In Temperance City, the streets are ruled by spelled-up gangsters, whose magic turf wars serve as a constant backdrop to civilian life. With magic strictly regulated, Eli Coello—whip-smart jewelry salesman by day, sultry torch singer by night—has always found it advantageous to hide his magical affinity for ink.
All that goes up in smoke the day Eli is forced to use his magic to foil a jewelry heist, and in doing so unwittingly catches the eye of Duke Haven, leader of the fire-flinging Pyre gang. Seeing a useful asset, Duke promptly blackmails Eli into providing unregistered spellwork.
Duke needs Eli’s ink-magic to help him pull a dangerous con against a rival gang. As the heist comes together, Eli finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into the Temperance underworld—and, perhaps most dangerously, to Duke himself.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
Content warnings include: violence, robbery, illegal magic, blackmail.
I loved pretty much everything about this! The magic and worldbuilding was fascinating and I adored the very fresh take on the whole elemental magic theme, with focus on more than just fire and water, bringing in ink, smoke, paper, textiles and more.
The plot itself was exhilarating and exciting, with unexpected twists, made even better by protagonist Eli’s… let’s call it “criminal energy”, which by far surpasses Duke’s own affinity for breaking the law, despite the latter being the crime boss blackmailing Eli and not the other way around.
I also loved that Eli worked as a jewellry salesperson, though he also performs/sings at a bar/club at night. His latter occupation sadly didn’t make it on page, which was a shame in my opinion.
The queer energy is equally great, with Eli being bigender and Duke pansexual, and the chemistry between the two sparking high despite neither of their magical abilities being tied to lightning.
If I have one complaint it’s that it was way too short! I would have loved to read twice or three times as much about this setting, these characters and their misadventures.