I received an ARC of Devils and Thieves by Jennifer Rush from The NOVL in exchange for an honest review.
In Devils and Thieves, Jemmie Carmichael doesn’t do magic. It’s not that she can’t (although she doesn’t believe her locant powers are very strong); it’s that magic causes an almost synesthetic response in her. When she casts spells or when someone else does, she can see and smell the invisible magic. Unfortunately, that often causes a sensory overload that she chooses to self-medicate with alcohol. To keep her mother and her friend, Alex, from worrying, she’s always kept this ability secret, allowing everyone to believe she simply doesn’t perform magic because she’s not good at it.
Her reticence about her power becomes a liability when people begin disappearing at the annual kindled festival. When she discovers Alex is among the missing, Jemmie reluctantly teams with the leader of the biker gang, the Black Devils, to uncover what’s happening. This leader, Crowe, just so happens to be Alex’s brother and the boy who broke Jemmie’s heart a year earlier. Things won’t be easy for Jemmie as she’s forced to embrace her powers and make peace with Crowe if she’s to have any hope to track down the villain who’s keeping those she cares about for his own nefarious purposes.
Devils and Thieves takes place in a world in which magical folk (or kindled) inherit specific powers through their bloodlines. Jemmie inherited her father’s locant power–which gives her the ability to create force fields and bind people’s magic. Her friend Alex’s family can use their venemon to heal or hurt those around them. There are approximately twelve types of magic in all, and although it’s difficult to keep them straight, the general setup of Jemmie’s magical world is a fascinating one. It’s interesting to see an urban fantasy setting tie together biker gangs, magic, and young adults. There’s no werewolves or otherwise mythical creatures here, but the world is brimming with magic all the same. The novel almost exclusively takes place within the kindled community so you get a strong sense of the magical system and hierarchy within that world. I’m happy that this is the first book in a series because I definitely want to find out more about magic which is just hinted here.
In many ways, Devils and Thieves reminds me of a mix between the Twilight series and Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone trilogy. Thankfully, it shares enough strengths with Shadow and Bone to keep me interested in reading on. Like I said, I loved the world building and the plot was fast-paced and easy to get lost in. I blew through Devils and Thieves in two days–which is fairly impressive since I usually have to force myself through one hundred pages a day (and that’s only manageable on good days). Devils and Thieves, however, never had a boring moment. It was just what I needed to keep me entertained during two dreary, fall days.
My only negative about Devils and Thieves is the part that did make it similar to Twilight. I’m not a fan of overbearing leading men and Crowe was of the controlling type. I didn’t like how he lorded over Jemmie, forcing her to go home from parties when she didn’t want to and being otherwise physically imposing. Of course, sometimes Jemmie acted too stupid to live and I’m ashamed to admit I might have had the desire to shake her myself. I didn’t find Jemmie or Crowe particularly likeable, but from the ending of this book, I suspect I’ll be way more into her character, at least, in book two. Beyond that, thankfully I liked the rest of the book enough that the characters didn’t ruin things for me.
If you’re a fan of Urban Fantasy, magical systems, and looking for a quick, engaging read, I’d recommend picking up Devils and Thieves. It’s not perfect but it’s a fun ride all the same.
Three out of Five Stars.