Cover Image: The Conductors

The Conductors

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Member Reviews

I decided to listen to the audiobook and read along in my physical copy, which took me ages for some reason. In the end though, I do still think this was very much worth the read. 

It was quite a slow read, and I do think it could have been a lot shorter and could have gotten to the point more quickly, but at the same time, this book discusses so much and incorporates so many different genres that this was quite the feat to witness. It's a historical novel, it's a murder mystery, it's a fantasy, and it also has a romance subplot of two people falling in love after they had already been married for quite some time. 

I was especially intrigued by the magic system of this book. The celestial magic sounds so unique and interesting, and it was amazing to see this interwoven with the history of the underground railroad. 

All in all, I'm definitely interested in picking up the sequel as well.
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I thought I would absolutely love this from the blurb but I was a little disappointed, it did have a good premise but I felt it could have been given a little more
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The Conductors es el comienzo de una serie de novelas que está previsto llevar a la pequeña pantalla en fechas próximas, pero esto casi que no es noticia porque desde que se abrió la veda de adaptaciones de género fantástico rara es la novela que no ha vendido sus derechos para la televisión o el cine, o está en ello. Y las que no, están deseando hacerlo.

The Conductors está situada temporalmente unos años después de la finalización de la esclavitud en EE.UU., una época muy interesante porque se mezclan los esclavos que consiguieron su libertad al fugarse de las plantaciones o donde fuera que estuvieran y aquellos que fueron manumitidos de manera “legal”. Como en otras ocasiones, se hace referencia al “ferrocarril subterráneo“, la red que ayudaba a los esclavos a huir. La protagonista de la historia Hetty Rhodes y su marido eran maquinistas de esta organización y ahora se dedican a investigar asesinatos y otros delitos cometidos contra la comunidad negra de Philadelphia que no recibe atención por parte de las autoridades pertinentes. A todo este escenario, ya de por sí interesante, le añadimos la magia y nos encontramos ante una historia muy atractiva.

Estos personajes me recuerdan un poco a la de Tommy y Tupence de Agatha Christie por lo del matrimonio de sabuesos, pero salvando las distancias. La investigación que Hetty y Benjy llevan a cabo se basa más en diálogos e intuiciones que en un procedimiento estricto, así que supongo que no es una novela que pueda llegar a satisfacer a los más puristas del género, pero el proceso de descubrimiento es entretenido. El sistema mágico tampoco se explica en profundidad, supongo que para dejar margen de maniobra para las siguientes entregas, aunque el “método” es dibujar las constelaciones bien en el aire bien sobre algún material.

Tiene también su trama sentimental sobre la que prefiero no hablar mucho por no desvelar nada, aunque me parece escrita con respeto y cuidado. Siendo la primera novela de Nicole Glover, hay que reconocer que la prosa está bastante bien y que el ritmo, que quizá es una de las cosas más difíciles de conseguir, se mantiene durante todo el libro. No es que lleve una velocidad endiablada, pero tampoco decae. Digamos que es una novela de mecha lenta.

Es importante también destacar el sentimiento de culpabilidad que tiene Hetty por haber perdido a su hermana en su huida. Esto se explica a base de flashbacks pero influye en el presente de la historia.

Se trata de una novela entretenida aunque no está destinada a cambiar el género. Tiene una continuación a la que supongo que en algún momento daré una oportunidad, aunque no está entre mis prioridades actualmente.
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The Conductors weaves mystery/crime together with fantasy elements really well. The two main characters, Hetty and Benjy, are well written and there is a great cast of supporting characters. The pacing was a little uneven at times - the middle of the book in particularly dragged a couple of times for me. Overall this was a really enjoyable read and I would recommend checking it out.
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An engaging debut that takes the reader on a fantastic journey into an alternative history of the Underground Railroad and the time right after the Civil War. The characters are distinct in their voices. I would suggest this book from teens onward.
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Unfortunately I couldn't get into this book at all. It sounded like a book I would love but I think the writing style wasn't for me. I do think others would enjoy it though
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You know those books that are not *bad*, they're pretty *okay*, but you can put it down and honestly not care a fig if you never pick it back up again?

Unfortunately, this was one of those.

There were so many promising elements to this one. The idea of exploring slavery but with magic is incredible. Hetty and Benji were Conductors for the Underground Railroad, helping slaves escape. When we meet them, slaves have been freed but the complex social tensions mean that plenty of crimes etc against former slaves go ignored and uninvestigated. So Hetty and Benji, in a marriage of convenience, continue their work by being amateur sleuths and investigators. When their friend is found dead, their next case becomes personal.

Despite being called The Conductors, we meet the characters once they're free and finished conducting, so my expectations for the book were already way off. There are a few "interludes" (flashbacks), but how much they truly add to the story is questionable.

The thing I liked the most about this book was the celestial magic system, whereby they draw star constellations to create magic. I thought this was really cool and something I've never seen before. Granted it was fairly ill defined, but I'm not too fussy about magic needing rules. It was a really unique idea of magic and I loved that.

Unfortunately, this book just had *too much*. There was there murder mystery, the "spouses of convenience to lovers" romance (I use the word loosely as it left me pretty cold), but then there was just a whole bunch of other stuff and it all just felt meandering and kind of confusing most of the time. Half the time it felt like we'd forgotten we were even supposed to be solving a mystery.

As most of the characters are freed slaves, this is a default-Black novel, which I have huge respect for. However, you do still need to actually describe characters enough for readers to remember who they are and form a mental image of them. George and Clarence, Penelope and Darlene and Eunice, they were all just amorphous blobs in my head. I kept forgetting who they were, and by the time we figure out the killer, I was just like - who the heck is that again??

At times the dialogue felt unnatural or just "off" (e.g. someone responding "you know why!" to a piece of dialogue that had nothing to do with any "why"). The book also had the most proofreading errors I've ever seen in a trad published book, and I even got the book out from the library to see if they had been fixed since Netgalley and they hadn't. I was pretty shocked to see this from such a big name publisher.

Overall, despite having some cool and unique ideas, I could have DNFd this at any point and not really missed anything.
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Hetty Rhodes escaped slavery and during the Civil War she aided many others, using her talent for Celestial magic as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.
Post-war, Hetty still helps other people alongside her husband Benjy, as they solve crimes.
One day, Hetty and Benjy come across a body in an alleyway who turns out to be one of their friends. The duo work together to find out who murdered their friend, but they may uncover secrets along the way.
Who can Hetty and Benjy trust when their friends are all suspects? 
Can they even trust each other?

One of the things that drew me to this novel was the mix of historical and fantasy, it really intrigued me and I'm glad that I read it.
Hetty was a likeable and relatable protagonist. She was brave, wanted to help people, and is someone I would want to be friends with, especially as she was a talented seamstress.
Benjy was my other favourite character, and I really liked the dynamic between the two of them. I enjoyed their scenes together and liked that Hetty wasn't afraid to go against what Benjy told her to.
The setting of post-Civil War was interesting and I liked that there were flashbacks ("interludes") to during the war.
The magic system was one of my favourite things about the novel, especially the Celestial magic, which I would have liked to find out more about. There was also Sorcery, which was magic only allowed to be used by White people, which involved wands.
The plot was enjoyable and held my interest. I did guess something that happened, but there were some things that I didn't see coming. While I did find the novel a little too long, I did enjoy the theme of friendship and thought that the theme of slavery was handled very well. I also found it refreshing to read a novel with magic where most of the characters were Black.
Th writing style was easy to follow and I would read another book by the author in the future.

Overall, this was an enjoyable, unique read that I would recommend.
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I'm not very fond of stories with investigations but this book caught my eye when I saw that the Conductors investigated the crimes that the police didn't take. Why? Because they were about black people. The Conductors are Hetty and Benjy, a married couple who used to help slaves flee towards the northern states of the US before the Civil War. This was already interesting, but add a little magic and I was sold.
Some (black) people have magic : they cast sigils that represent constellations and these come to life.  White people also have magic, but it's called sorcery and you need a wand to cast a spell. Sorcery is forbidden for black people. It made me wonder if other populations also had magic and how different it was from magic or sorcery.
I was a little bored with the investigation although it allowed to show the society from that era, and that was very interesting. There were also flashbacks from Hetty's time as a slave and as a conductor, and it was very useful to better undestand the dynamics between all the characters.
I really liked this novel and found it innovative.

TW : murder, slavery, racism
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This had a lot of interesting elements that could have been great but unfortunately failed to live up to their potential.
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A really intriguing premise with a curious magic system, this was a really enjoyable read and has made Glover into an author I'm keen to see more from.
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DNF - I really wanted to enjoy this book, the premise sounded so good but I really struggled with it. I felt that the world building was rushed and I really didn't understand what was going on most of the time. Maybe if I read more fantasy novels I would have fallen into the world more easily.
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This was good for a debut novel and it was a good first installment in a series. I think it'd be better if the pace was faster. But, all in all I enjoyed it and I'd continue the series. 
Thanks a lot for this copy.
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The Conductors is a great blend of historical fiction set in Post Civil War America, celestial magic and murder mystery. 
Hetty and her husband Benjy who were both conductors for the Underground Railroad are now living a domestic life in Phildelphia on the outside while fighting crime and solving murder mysteries secretly with the help of their magic. One of their friends with whom they have a difficult relationship turns up dead with a cursed sigil, shortly after asking them for help and they set out to find the murderer. 
We get to know not only the present but also the past describing exactly how Hetty and Benjy came to be in their current vocation through interludes interspersed with the chapters. 
I really enjoyed the setting, the magical system as well as our main two characters and their chemistry. The murder mystery was also equally engaging with the incorporation of magic and sorcery . The narration does lag a bit in some places and could have done better with more editing but overall it was a great start to a series. 
I would love to see more books set in this world with Hetty and Benjy solving more interesting cases and would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking to immerse yourself in a fantasy thriller.
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Glover created a solid first entry in her new series and I was impressed by her ambition for a debut novel. I'm certainly looking forward to continuing on with the next instalment.
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The Conductors is set in post Civil War, Philadelphia and is firmly within a genre of historical fiction that has a whisper of magic. Benjy and Hetty are a married couple, united in their purpose. They are renowned, ten years on from the end of the civil war, as conductors - guides who helped slaves escape the south through the Underground Railroad. Interestingly I had only recently come across the railroad when reading another book about magic set in an historical context - Alix E Harwood’s The Once and Future Witches. Hetty and Benjy used celestial magic to aid their rescues and for this they use sigils, which are usually a pictorial symbol of a god or spirit, but here are a symbol of their desired outcome. Ten years on, they use their magic to solve murders and missing person’s cases, particularly those with black victims where discriminatory authorities may not have investigated properly, even in the more forward thinking Northern US states. Their skills are frequently called upon in their district of Philadelphia but this time is different, this time the murder victim is an old friend and they will have to investigate within their own community. 

Trying to investigate and unearth who can’t be trusted amongst their own friends and neighbours is really tough, especially when their suspicions start to take them very close to home. They have to use all their magical powers and experience, because stirring up secrets buried for this long turns out to be very dangerous for the pair. How much do they really know about their friends and neighbours? Trying to bring together historical facts and fiction can be hard enough for a writer, but to stir in fantasy and magic too takes great skill. The author must get us to feel like we’re in the past, but that past is brought alive by magic. The balance has to be perfect, or the end result can feel messy and chaotic. Instead this feels fresh and leaps off the page vividly. I was drawn in quite early on, by the characters and the incredible world the author has built - especially the fantasy side. It moves slowly at first, which draws the reader in, but also allows us to settle into these characters and their world before letting the rest unfold. Then when it does, the story is believable, rich and vivid. I believed in this couple’s relationship and I was invested in them as characters. So, when the tension did start to build, I was hooked - hoping they would solve the case and emerge unscathed. I thought the magical explanation for systemic racism was interesting and would be interested to see how that resolves in future novels. Definitely a writer to watch.
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The Conductors by Nicole Glover is a delightful murder mystery where the Underground Railroad meets magic. From the blurb: “As an escaped slave, Hetty Rhodes helped dozens of people find their own freedom north using her wits and her magic. Now that the Civil War is over, Hetty and her husband, Benjy, still fight for their people by solving the murders and mysteries that the white authorities won’t touch.” I really enjoyed my reading experience, though this is not a perfect book. I felt like the plot was a bit thin, and the mystery itself not very compelling in itself. What I struggled most with is that the book reads as if it was from the middle of a series rather than the start of a new one. But The Conductors makes up for that with superb character work. Hetty and Benjy have a wonderful rapport and the way their relationship grows – chef’s kiss. They are interesting and multi-dimensional characters, along with the side-players in this story. The characters in this are so strong that I did not mind the plot as much, and I am looking forward to spending more time with them in the next installment.
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DNF at 22%

Unfortunately I just couldn’t get in to this book.
I found the world building to be lacking and because of this I felt no intrigue or motive to continue. 
I enjoyed the interludes far more than the main storyline and I think that was due to the dialogue. It felt incredibly sterile and offered no real insight to the character and their feelings at the time, or even a wider sense of personality. 
I think for a more plot driven reader this may work better, and it’s entirely possible that I just didn't get far enough in to the book to be hooked, but I think at 22% in that that should have happened already.
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The Conductors, by Nicole Glover is fantasy mystery set in post-slavery America. The setting is so unusual that I immediately wanted to see where it was going and everything about this novel was a very welcome breath of fresh air, from the magic system to the take on the side romance. 

We follow the couple: Hetty and Benji, supposedly retired conductors, meaning people who risked their lives to lead slaves who wanted to run from their masters to states where they could live as free people. You would think that once freedom came all over America their trouble would be over, but that would be too simple.

Hetty is a complex character, the type that is really intriguing, full of contradictions, real emotions and a drive that you can only envy. I really enjoyed viewing this very different world through her and loved discovering about her past even if I didn’t always see how it was linked to the present. Oddly enough, most of the tension of this murder mystery didn’t come from the case itself, but actually from the relationships between characters.

Another thing I greatly enjoyed is the relationship between Hetty and her husband. A lot of the beginning mystery seemed to be what kind of relationship they truly had. They are great friends, we immediately see that they are utterly dependable and essential partners in their past freedom fighting days… but are they really a couple or is it all convenience? 

I will add that I loved the magical system. There is many amazing ideas in this book and I certainly do want to follow the author and intend to continue that series because it is absolutely unique and fascinating. 

That said there is some bad points. The Conductors does feel like a first novel in that some of the plot was a little murky. It all makes sense, but what I mean is that the pace can be a little strange, the flash backs don’t always seem to serve a purpose, there is too many people introduced all over the place, they add flavour but we didn’t really need all of those extras that come in for one line here and disappear forever after. The world is so dense and full of things some of the main ideas get a little lost.

I highly recommend this novel to people who liked the time traveling classic Kindred by Octavia E. Butler, and the beautiful graphic novel White All Around by Wilfrid Lupano and Stéphane Fert. Anyone who wants insights into the post slavery world with a dash of marvelous will love this book.
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Nicole Glover draws you into her story, revealing dashes of magic here and there, until the story has you in its beautiful grip. She heightens the drama of this story of injustices and race by redistributing where power can lie in society, and in turn delivers a compelling and thoughtful tale. I'm loath to give too much of the plot away because so much fun is had in realising what her characters can do, little by little, as the drama unfolds. This type of magical realism deserves to be savoured so tuck in and enjoy!
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