Rating: 3.75 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Flirting at a false fire alarm isn’t exactly the meet-cute that Alan Hiranchai envisioned, but his bird familiar, Sunny, decided it was time Alan get laid. And who better with than hot local firefighter, Jason Miller? A casual hook-up is about all Alan expects given that Jason is in the closet and completely oblivious to the magical world around him. But the heat between them is no small thing and a fling soon becomes something more. 

Which would be great, if Alan wasn’t also dealing with an exceptionally strong fire-drake who is terrorizing the town and putting Jason and his crew in danger. Lying to Jason is the last thing Alan wants to do, but he doesn’t have a choice. Magic and sorcery are protected for a reason. But after a mysterious carnival comes town town, Jason is drawn into Alan’s world and, despite the risks, it will take both men to stop the fire-drake. But even if they survive, after so much betrayal, Alan isn’t sure there will be anything left of his relationship with Jason to salvage. 

I’m a long time fan of Kaje Harper’s and I find her writing is often smooth and engaging and her characters well done. All of that remains true for Magic Burning, a novel set within her extended Necromancer universe and, while I didn’t love everything about this one, Harper’s dependable writing and characters make it worth a read. This is part of the wider Carnival of Mysteries multi-author series, but can be read as a standalone. 

Alan and Jason are a sweet couple and they work well together. Their flirting is cute and they have a natural fit that makes them relatable. Jason’s coming out and the eventual confrontation with his family felt like an additional conflict the story didn’t necessarily need, but it gave his character more depth. There is a mysterious carnival (think HBO’s Carnivale, though less sinister in tone) and while this interlude allows for some interesting interplay, it doesn’t overpower the plot, which I appreciated. 

One of my issues here is how nebulous the magic is. There are rules, but we as readers don’t always know what they are and how they work, which was a bit frustrating. Additionally, it’s never fully clear what Alan’s powers are or aren’t and how accessible they are. It just made the fantasy element less defined than I would have liked. The characters from the Necromancer series pay a brief on page visit, which was lovely and it added to the overall flavor of the novel in a positive way, but you don’t have to have read those books to follow the plot of Magic Burning. 

On the whole, I enjoyed Magic Burning and, while I wish that the world building had been stronger and more defined, the characters and overall plot helped balance everything out. Harper’s relaxed and natural writing style made this a fun read and it’s one I think most fans of fantasy-light stories will enjoy.