Book Review: Jennifer Estep’s Cold Burn of Magic

Posted July 14, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Young Adult readers

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Jennifer Estep’s Cold Burn of Magic

Cold Burn of Magic


Jennifer Estep

urban fantasy in Paperback edition that was published by Kensington Books on April 28, 2015 and has 368 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Spider’s Bite, Web of Lies, Jennifer Estep, Venom, Karma Girl, Tangled Threads, Touch of Frost, Spider's Revenge, Kiss of Frost, Hot Mama, By a Thread, Dark Frost, Widow's Web, Crimson Frost, Deadly Sting, Midnight Frost, Heart of Venom, The Spider, Killer Frost, Tan­gled Dreams, Tangled Schemes, Spider's Bargain, "Poison", Spider’s Nemesis, "Wasted", Web of Death, "Web of Deceit", Black Widow, Poison Promise, The Spider's Trap, Dark Heart of Magic, Bitter Bite, Unraveled, "Nice Guys Bite", Bright Blaze of Magic, Snared

First in the Black Blade urban fantasy series for young adults and revolving around Lila in Cloudburst Falls, West Virginia.

My Take

The start to Cold Burn of Magic cracked me up when Estep brought the three bears in and then substituted those three guards. She had a great opening, and authors may want to check it out. At least make a note of it for an example if you ever get stuck, lol. The story itself made me think of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series, although this one is more of a young adult version.

Lila is rude, snarky, and doesn’t care who she ticks off. She’s also darn good with a sword and a lock pick. I did, however, enjoy her getting a taste of being broken into. I liked it when Lila gave Claudia a taste of her own medicine as well, lol. Then there’s Oscar. What a crack-up. My first hillbilly pixie, lol.

There are some irritating things about Cold Burn of Magic. Lila goes on and on about how her mother got left in the lurch by the Families despite all she’d done for them, but when it gets down to the nitty-gritty and we find out what actually happened… Well, let’s just say that Estep has been leading us on. It was well done in that I just had to keep reading to find out what all these hints Estep kept dropping meant. If only the anticipation had been borne out by the “reality”.

Devon is a sweet guy, but he reads more like a wimp than anything else. He’s simply too emotion-filled. Then there’s the romance. It feels forced.

Claudia is just NASTY, and I was amazed that Estep actually made Claudia seem okay in the restaurant scene when Victor starts pontificating on raising taxes.

In spite of my issues with Cold Burn of Magic, I liked the liveliness of the story and the twists Estep included on the various tropes. I am looking forward to reading Dark Heart of Magic when it comes out October 2015.

Always pay the bridge toll to the lochness!

The Story

It starts out as a standard day, er, night. A successful burglary, a fun escape, and a trip to see Mo in the morning. A fateful trip as Lila’s innate sympathy is touched when two young men are attacked in Mo’s shop. It’s that emotional knowledge she absorbs when she looks at him. She can’t not help.

It’s a help that will blackmail Lila into a nest of vipers.

The Characters

Lila Merriweather is a cynical young thing. It’s fair. She’s had a hard life since her mother, Serena Sterling, died, and she’s currently squatting illegally in the library basement. No, no one knows. I gotta confess that I can see the attraction…*grin*… Her Talents include transference and the standard Sight enhanced with soulsight.

Mo Kaminsky is the Hawaiian-shirt-clad fence who runs Razzle Dazzle, a pawn shop — Lila calls it a junk store. He sets up the burglary jobs.

The Families are…

…more like mob families. They make up the power structure in Cloudburst Falls. The rich and the town officials ignore them, but the middle class and poor need them for jobs and protection.

The Sinclairs are…
…one of the two most powerful Families, and they run the banks, sanctuaries, and mines. Claudia, a.k.a., the Ice Queen, is the head of the family and mother to the son and heir, Devon, who is also the Family bruiser with a compulsion Talent few know about. Lawrence was Devon’s father. Ashley Vargas is Devon’s bodyguard. The too-chatty Felix Morales is Devon’s best friend; he has a healing Talent. Angelo Morales is Felix’s father and the Family chemist. Oscar will be Lila’s personal pixie. William Reginald is the family butler. Grant Sanderson is the Family broker.

The Draconis are…
…the other powerful Family and run the casinos. Victor is the fearsome family head who collects Talents by ripping them out of people and killing them. Deah is his teenage daughter. Blake is the jerkwad psychopathic son and Family bruiser with a strength Talent.

The Itos own…
…the hotels. Poppy is an Ito daughter and is being pushed into dating Devon. Hiroshi Ito is the head of the Family.

The Salazars run…
…the restaurants. Roberto is the head of this Family.

The Volkovs are…
…led by Nikolai.

Cloudburst Falls, West Virginia, is…
…promoted as “the most magical place in America” where mortals, magicks, and monsters live. Think Southern Vegas. I would like to see those pixie waitresses and cleaners. The Hendersons were the foster family Lila remembers fondly.

Talents come in three flavors — minor, moderate, and major — and three categories — strength, speed, senses. Copper crusher venom is a deadly poison. Stitchsting is a medicine that heals wounds.

Four positions are the most powerful in a Family: head, broker, bruiser, and butler. The head of the family is obvious. The broker manages all the Family business interests and problems. The bruiser is the Family second-in-command and their Enforcer. The butler manages the household.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a contrast of royal blue and the black of trees and the ground with a silhouette of Lila standing at parade rest in her slightly belled jeans, her long hair flowing down her back. There’s a feminine quality to it with the shy white swirl curling around the base of the trees and the soft sunrise pastels rising up from the ground behind her. The author’s name is at the top in a raised yellow font while the title is at the bottom in a thinner white fantasy serif.

The title is that feeling Lila gets when her transference Talent kicks in, that Cold Burn of Magic.