Story Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.25 stars
Narrator: Cornell Collins
Length: 6 hours, 2 minutes
The Charm of Magpies series is one of my favorites from K.J. Charles’ amazing body of work, so I have been enjoying the chance to revisit it again in audio. In this second book, A Case of Possession, we pick back up with Stephen and Lucien back in London after the adventures of the first book. The men are committed to one another, but there are some genuine obstacle in their way. First, Stephen is assuming that Lucien is still planning to return to China, as he has indicated in the past, putting a shelf life on their relationship. Also, now that they are back in town, Stephen is running around for his job, which means the men don’t have that dedicated time alone they had in the country. So we get this lovely sense of Lucien being both frustrated that he doesn’t see as much of Stephen as he’d like, but also charmed completely by his brilliant and amazing lover.
Stephen is also encountering issues with work, as his amplification of power that comes from sex with Lucien isn’t going unnoticed. Considering that no one can know they are in a relationship, and definitely no one can know that Lucien is such a power source, that leaves people with the wrong impression of how Stephen is getting so much power. Stephen is even having to keep it a secret from his best friends, lest he have to admit to them that he likes men. Which then further complicates things when Stephen needs Lucien’s help on a case. Stephen and his team encounter some magical mayhem involving giant, man-eating rats that connects to some folks from China, which means that he needs Lucien’s help on the communication end. It is a great way to get the men working together and bring in Lucien’s unique skills to play for the case. The investigation is interesting and somewhat horrifying (did I mention man-eating rats?) and connects nicely with some of Lucien’s past to bring things all together. We also get a chance here to spend more time with both Stephen’s partner, Esther, and her husband; the rest of Stephen’s team; and Lucien’s good friend, Leonora Hart. The group, along with Merrick, make such great side characters and add a lot to the story.
I just love Lucien and Stephen together and this story really solidifies things between them. It also has one of my favorite moments, a scene I still remember eight years after first reading the book, where Stephen comes flying in, power blazing, to save the day in all his glorious wonder that I just adore. If you want to check out more detail about the story and my thoughts (and more gushing over how much I loved it), you can see my full original review of the book.
As a note, like with The Magpie Lord audiobook, this audio also includes both a short story and introductory chapters to the next book. I would say the main story ends about 1 hour and 15 minutes before the end of the audiobook. We first get the short story, A Case of Spirits, where we learn that someone has been attacking people with magically poisoned gin — including some people close to Stephen and Lucien. The group has to get to the bottom of who is behind it and how to stop it before the victims are blinded. It’s a nice add on story and fun to get a short little adventure for the men. It appears that the short is also in the ebook version, so you should be able to get it regardless of format, though I haven’t been able to find it as a standalone.
Cornell Collins once again does a nice job with the audio. I particularly like the way he is able to smoothly move between Lucien’s elegant “lord of the manor” voice, to the Lucien of the Chinese docks who is ready to knock heads together. Collins also gives the characters different accents based on their class and background. However, at times I found the accents slipped a bit and I had trouble differentiating Stephen and Lucien, who normally sound quite different. The tone and pacing are spot on and this one is a really enjoyable listen in audio.
I am really having a great time revisiting this series in audio format and looking forward to the final book in the trilogy. If you haven’t had a chance to read this series, it is definitely not one to be missed.