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Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep eARC {2 Stars}

Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep is the first in a new YA urban fantasy series from a much beloved adult urban fantasy author. While the magic system in Cold Burn of Magic had promise, I ended up annoyed with most everything else and bored by stiff dialogue, a pretty bland mystery plot, and weak world-building. I will admit that I never got into her adult UF series, so it is quite possible that Estep’s writing just doesn’t click with me for some reason.

Note: I received an advanced copy of Cold Burn of Magic from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep eARC {2 Stars}

Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep (Black Blade #1)
Published by Kensington on April 28th, 2015
Genres: Urban Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 368 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
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There Be Monsters Here. . .

It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .

2 Stars


  • The magic system in Cold Burn of Magic is pretty interesting in that it is based on magical talents and there is a very wide variety of them as far as I can tell. They are basically superpowers but in a fantasy context instead of a sci-fi context, but that’s still pretty fun to discover.
  • There is a friendship with a pixie who was definitely my favorite character if I’m not counting his pet tortoise. A redneck pixie was definitely the most memorable part of Cold Burn of Magic ;-).
  • I liked the monsters that we got to see briefly in Cold Burn of Magic, such as a lochness that lives under a bridge and requires a toll to not grab you with its tentacles. A lot of other monsters were referred to as existing, but never encountered. They sounded cool though!
  • Cold Burn of Magic is a fun and light read that you can easily read through in a distracting environment without losing track of the plot, so great for summer travels.


  • The dialogue came off as very stiff to me. Does anyone really think that’s how teenagers would speak to each other? There was also a fair amount of attempted humor that I did not find funny at all and just ended up rolling my eyes.
  • A lot of revelations were dumped in the guise of a random flashback, but felt very forced like she knew that she needed to reveal this part of the past but couldn’t fit it in otherwise. The beginning of the story is also very reliant on secrets being kept from the reader for the sake of suspense and this technique irks me to no end. If the heroine knows the secret and just doesn’t feel like mentioning it to the reader, I just want to shake them.
  • The plot of Cold Burn of Magic is focused on who is trying to kill who in crime families and therefore doesn’t bring in the supernatural elements hardly at all. I was disappointed at how little we found out about the magic of the world
  • I’m pretty over the super tough girl trope in urban fantasy, especially when it just doesn’t seem justified and she has apparently no weaknesses at all.
  • The phrase “cold burn of magic” was one of a number of phrases repeated waaaaaaaay too often to the point I felt like starting a drinking game.
  • I felt absolutely nothing for these characters by the end and really didn’t care what happened to them. They just felt quite flat and made out of tropes without anything all that interesting or deep to them.


Cold Burn of Magic clearly didn’t work great for me. I can see the appeal to those still enamored with the tropes urban fantasy is best known for, though the dialogue and characters still left a lot to be desired. I think if you already know that you like Estep’s writing style and characters, you’ll probably have a fun time. But if you are looking for something new and different, Cold Burn of Magic doesn’t fit the bill.

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya


 Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

© 2015, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. I haven’t read anything by Estep yet, but, based on your assessment, I don’t think this would be the best first look at her portfolio. It’s disappointing though…the promise of magic and coolness and then lackluster characters and story ruin it. :(
    Kel @ Booked til Tuesday recently posted…Powerless by Childs and Deeb eARC (2 stars)My Profile

    • I suspect you wouldn’t be a huge fan of her series since she’s rather heavy on the romance forced into plots from what I’ve read ;-)

  2. Yikes, sorry this was such a disappointment for you! I actually really liked it, but then I’ve read quite a number of books by Jennifer Estep so I knew what I was getting into with her writing style. Now that I think about it, her other YA series also has a lot of flashbacks but I enjoyed those. ;) It’s always interesting to hear diverging opinions on a book you liked a lot. Can’t love ’em all, I guess!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, for some reason I just don’t click with her it seems. I keep wanting to love her since everyone does D:

  3. I haven’t read it yet but I’m the top spot on the library list for it. I think I would still read it because I want to see what it’s like. I haven’t read a ton of urban fantasy so it might be something I love or not. I appreciate seeing your thoughts on it though!

  4. Bummer! I’m holding on to hope that I’ll feel differently because I actually love Elemental Assassin (at least as far as I’ve gotten). But so many of the things that bothered you – forced, awkward humor, random flashback revelations, tough girl with no weaknesses – tend to bother me too. Oh well, I have it, so I’ll read it and we’ll see eventually.
    Berls recently posted…Insurgent by Veronica Roth| My TBR List ReviewMy Profile

    • If you like Elemental Assassin then I think you have hope! I was definitely a black sheep on this one ;-)

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