Author: Sonya Clark
Publisher: Carina Press
Date of Publication: October 28, 2013
A high-profile murder brings Detective Nathan Perez to Magic Born Zone 13. He’s had little experience with the Magic Born and isn’t sure what to expect during his first encounter with a witch, but he never thought he’d be so drawn to her.
Trancehacker Calla Vesper uses magic to break into computers and aid the Magic Born underground. She has no interest in helping a cop, even if he is smoking-hot, but money’s tight and Nate offers a tidy amount for help navigating the Zone. Calla’s determined to keep it all business, but sparks start flying before the investigation even gets started.
When Calla’s trancehacking and Nathan’s investigation uncover a conspiracy, Calla becomes a target. Nate can protect her by keeping her role a secret—but then who will protect Nate?
I had so much fun reading this book, I really did. I liked the rather grim view of the future it gave. Yes, I know that seems weird, but sometimes you get tired of seeing either a utopia future (a la Star Trek in some ways) or a dystopia (a la Hunger Games). This was neither. There wasn’t a grand class of overlords and the vast majority are impoverished and living a sucky life. Yes, there was definitely an underclass of citizens, but it also wasn’t something that had enveloped the entire world. In fact, the classification/tracking/discrimination against magic-born seems to have been primarily something in the United States, who is now paying a rather high price (the UN’s been moved, there are trade restrictions, etc.).
The story itself was great. Calla’s tough, yet not over-the-top kick-butt tough. She’s had pretty miserable time of it, having been taken away from her parents at birth because she was tested and found to have magic in her DNA. Because of her gifts (she’s able to hack into the internet using magic, which is pretty danged awesome to my mind) if she can find an access point (which doesn’t really exist in the Magic Zones, aka FreakTown for Magic Zone 13), so she has to go off the grid), she’s been able to find out who her parents were and that they had another, this time non-magical, child and had essentially wiped any trace of her existence off the face of the earth (save for a secured file in a government computer system).
Nathan’s not had an absolutely perfect life either, but he’s had it better than Calla. He’s not magical and has had limited interaction with those who are because there were no Zones in the area he grew up in. When he went abroad in the military, the foreign countries he visited didn’t have nearly the regulations against the magical types.
They find themselves (Calla VERY reluctantly) thrown together when a strange murder happens on Nathan’s watch. THe first DNA test turned up an unregistered magic born (which isn’t supposed to be possible, given DNA testing at birth), but subsequent ones show up with different results. The story follows Nathan’s quest for the truth, even as it turns out some very powerful people do not want the truth getting out.
I guessed correctly on part of the solution to the mystery, but was pleasantly surprised by the rest of it. Obviously I can’t tell you which parts were which, but it’s a great ride. The hard look at the possibility of discrimination for non-racial reasons fascinated me to. I can all too easily imagine such a classification/discriminatory system being put in place. Heck, we have real examples of it (though South Africa was based on skin-color/race) and plenty of fictional examples (X-Men, anyone?).
All in all, I’m really happy I read this book. A 5-star rating from me. Thanks Carina Press and thanks Ms. Clark!
Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.