Lucinda Elliot

Review of ‘Conflicted Magic’ by Christina Herlyn: A Tantalising Taster for a Gripping Series

In the dystopian world which develops on the coming of the asteroid Atlas, there are certain grades of people.

There are the Normals, who must be protected from the dreadful monsters who emerged from the volcanoes that erupted on the arrival of Atlas. There are also the Evolutionaries, born with a mutated gene – and nobody wants to be one of them. Evolutionaries are fated to become warriors, used to defend the Normals against the monsters.

There is another category, but it’s secret: these are the Magics , whose but power was revitalised by the arrival of Atlas.

Josiah Hightower is a Magic, being a thunderbird. Fired by curiosity about the nature of Evolutionaries and their unenviable role, he has moved to Kansas City to become:  ‘Warden Josiah Hightower, superior to over twenty Eliminators for the Mythical Creatures Elimination Squad, M-kes for short. He’d left a better paying position, pissed off his parents, and moved to a city where he had zero contacts.’

Here, Josiah discovers that there are more secretive goings on than he had ever supposed. These are dark, and M-kes has a general attitude towards it’s Elminators, which goes beyond indifference into outright exploitation.  He is aware of a power struggle taking place within M-kes, and wants to find out what’s at stake.

Another mystery is Josiah’s instant fascination with M-kes star Eliminator, Andromeda Bochs. Andee, whose skin and eyes have been turned purple by the ingot implants that Evolutionaries are argued to need to shield them from the radiation of Atlas, is almost the archetype warrior woman – save for the fangs given her by that ‘E gene’. Nearly six foot tall, she has legs to match and a liking for leather, a mane of chestnut hair, and sports a katana – which she inherited from a dead fellow warrior.

And after all, Josiah is built so that he can view even such a woman  as this as almost kittenish.

She makes an impression on him that he can’t deny, but this is not what Josiah planned: he doesn’t want his ambiguous relationship towards M-kes further complicated by his having strong feelings for any of their employees.

Still, he has other concerns: for instance, he is being shadowed by a giant, super intelligent feline.

Then, he is also being pursued by the siren-like Sophia. Is her attraction magical?  It is very possible that she is another secret Magic, for with her striking brunette colouring and curves, she is like a Sexy Scientist taken to extremes.

Then there is what to make of muscular, enigmatic Thomas Waya, whom no women in the organisation seems to be able to resist. And Josiah definitely wants Andee to resist Waya….

Josiah Hightower and Andromeda Bochs are two of my favourite characters in modern fantasy, so I am always happy to read about them.  

This short novella makes an intriguing addition to the series. As ever the writing is vivid, the story fast moving,  the characters engaging, and an enjoyable vein of humour sparkles through it:.’Not only was the lion involved with the blue goo, but it had spied on him—no insulted him with its territory marking at his house. He needed to return the favor. The spying part. He avoided spreading his bodily fluids around..’

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