Cover Image: Gutter Mage

Gutter Mage

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I thought this sounded interesting and thought I’d give it a try. I was immediately drawn into this book, and my interest didn’t really wane the whole book. I admit that this genre wasn’t exactly my favorite (sort of set in a sort of past?), but I set that aside to enjoy this book. Roz is a very complex character which I came to understand better when information comes to light later in the book. This explains some of the hardness of her character one way or the other (this will make sense when you read it). Add to it the great writing and unique universe, this gritty noir-like urban fantasy kept my interest. I’d like to learn more about the characters and Roz in future installments. Recommend. I was provided a complimentary copy which I voluntarily reviewed.
Was this review helpful?
You know, this book probably doesn’t really deserve the full five stars, it’s not an amazing and perfect book but I had a lot of fun reading it so I’m rounding up for the good time the author showed me!
It’s a fantasy/mystery blend with a very crass protagonist.  Some readers aren’t going to like the main character but I knew the author was just out to show the reader a good time from the first two sentences and then the bar brawl started.  Not every book needs to have something deep to say or be of vast literary merit some can just be entertaining and this one fits that bill.  I’m marking this author to follow on Goodreads. I want to read whatever they write next!
Was this review helpful?
Gutter Mage sets the reader up in a world with mages who can harness spirits to provide conveniences and comforts such as sky scrapers, horseless carriages, street lights and beyond. Rosalind Featherstone, an almost mage know as the Gutter Mage, gets hired on to a job to find the missing child of a lord. Along with her partner, Lysander, they discover something bigger going on and are faced with the task of stopping a rogue mage guild who wants to change life as they know it.

I really enjoyed this novel and the author has set it up to be the stepping stone in what I assume will be a series of magical mystery solving adventures. Rosalind (Roz) is a snarky fun character to follow and is just lovable and broken enough to make for some fun exchanges between characters. The world of mages and harnessing of spirits is intriguing and I feel like we just touch the surface of this magic system in the Gutter Mage. I ultimately was left satisfied with the story pacing after only one real lull while circumstances were starting to pull together just before all the pieces of the mystery started to click.

4 stars - would recommend this read to anyone who enjoys a light magical mystery/adventure.

Review based on digital copy of Uncorrected Proof from Net Galley and the publisher.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this.  It starts off with a bar fight, and continues with a good amount of violence and death, but sort of with a light touch.  Roz definitely is vulgar, but clever about it and it added to rather than detracted from her character.  A lot of her supporting characters are sincere and caring, so you can tell there's more to her than the rough exterior.  She behaves badly but is a good person.  This story involves magic of several flavors, including binding spirits with sigils, possessions, and communing on the astral plane, but mostly it's a detective story.   It was a fun, quick read with good, consistent writing, and came to a very satisfying conclusion.
Was this review helpful?
Book received for free through NetGalley 

I absolutely adored this book and had trouble putting it down as the characters, scenes, and overall plot pulled me in immediately. So good and can’t wait to learn what she does and what happens next.
Was this review helpful?
I actually got my hands on a physical arc of Gutter Mage and read it before I was approved on NetGalley. I seriously loved this book. Roz is a badass and a fantastic leading character. The banter was great, the magic was fun, the world building was done really well without a ton of info-dumping. And the conclusion left me so excited for a sequel. 4.5 stars rounded up. I think this is the start of a really great series and I hope there is a lot more to come!
Was this review helpful?
Rosalind “Roz” Featherstone is known as the Gutter Mage of Drusiel, but do not let her hear you calling her that. A detective, of sorts, Roz solves problems within the magical community; although most of her clients pay in barter, but who’s counting? When her best friend, Lysander brings about the prospect of a high paying job she accepts it. As memories from her past intertwine with clues of the case, she wonders if she will be able to break it, or if it will break her.

Hidden behind the crass of the main character’s reputation, an eccentric, tough, yet deeply loving character is brought to life in J.S. Kelly’s "The Gutter Mage". The quirky banter alone keeps the reader interested. Throw in a fascinating rendition of mages, deception, plus adventure and this book quickly becomes difficult to put down.

None the less, there is an abundant amount of crude, raunchy, and profane language throughout. Add in several spelling and grammatical errors, and the rating of 4 out of 5 stars is given. 

Be aware, there is smoking, drinking, and drug use described within. There is also some sexual content included, although the details are left to the reader’s imagination. If triggered by any of these actions, please take caution while reading.

All in all, a must read for anyone who enjoys losing themselves in the wonder of magic, mystery, and mayhem. Cannot wait for Roz’s next situation.

Thank you to #NetGalley, #GutterMage and #SagaPress for the opportunity to voluntarily review this book.
Was this review helpful?
This was a fun read.  The author is adept at world building and the MC is flawlessly depicted.

Hopefully this is the start of a series, especially as there was no true resolution to the plot. 

I hope in future books the secondary characters are more defined as they have much potential.

I was given a free ARC.  I am leaving my .honest review
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this arc. 

And thank you, J.S. Kelley, for this masterpiece. I teared up reading the “Acknowledgments”. I couldn’t imagine not getting the chance to read Roz’s story. 

Yaaaaas.!! Sold.! That’s all that needs said… this book was flipping fantastic. I’m ordering myself a copy right after writing this review. Roz was an amazing character. All the characters were interesting. The plot wasn’t super definitive or multi-layered. There was a trail to follow, but it didn’t lead you on a big chase. But it worked out well. I’m fairly certain this was a standalone, so you wouldn’t have wanted something convoluted and all over the place. The magic was interesting. I love mages and sigil stuff. The story ended at a good place, but I think ill always want more. I’d love more “Gutter Mage” adventures. I want to know what happens with the spirits. I even want to get more on Lysander. It was just one of those amazing reads that don’t let you go.
Was this review helpful?
Gutter Mage is the debut novel of J.S. Kelly, and guys: consider me hooked. I loved this novel, and I loved the writing. I'm adding J.S Kelly to my list of auto-buy authors.

Rosalind Featherstone is a woman of many names. Her friends call her Roz, and anybody looking to get punched calls her the Gutter Mage. She's worked hard to make peace with her lot in life and has cut a career for herself.

While she's never taking on a case involving a kidnapped infant, there's a first time for everything, right? Only nothing is what it seems, and Roz quickly finds herself up to her neck in danger and magical politics. What fun.

“There were people at various points in my life who had told me that I shouldn't fight dirty. That there was a right way and a wrong way to right, and punching a guy in the eggs fell squarely on the wrong side.”

If you love your magic books laced with a hefty dose of noir and sarcasm, then you're going to love Gutter Mage. I know I did. I want so much more – more information about the world, the characters, and especially the magic.

Roz is arguably the crassest magical being I have ever had the joy of reading about – and that's saying something. I can see why she got the nickname Gutter Mage – and it isn't just because of her magic or the type of clients she prefers.

I love how dark and gritty this novel was. Even the magical system had a darker tone, which fit nicely with the overall noir aesthetic. It also suited Roz's personality for obvious reasons. Personally, I think it did a fantastic job of making this world and story stand out from the rest.

Gutter Mage was a fun read because it had a lot of elements blended into one story. It's a magical noir world, where the main character has taken up a new case (mystery) to solve. Throw in personal conflicts, political scheming, and some surprises twists – and a lot is going on in this book.

I'll confess that it took me a little while to get into the narrative – Roz is abrasive, which makes it harder to appreciate what's going on. Still, it wasn't long before I was fully invested, and by the time the book ended, I wasn't ready to let go.

To sum it up: I adored Gutter Mage. It was a unique and fun read, and I'm already crossing all of my fingers and toes that there will be a sequel. Pretty please?
Was this review helpful?
Read the first couple chapters of this and just wasn't feeling it but there also wasn't necessarily anything 'bad' about it so just giving it a middle of the road 3 stars. Seemed well written and I didn't notice any glaring errors in spelling or grammar. I'm sure it's a very enjoyable read for the right person but I just wasn't really connecting with the setting and character and I know that for me personally if I don't really latch onto a character immediately in the first chapter or two then I'm probably not going to so I decided to go on to something else.
Was this review helpful?
This first in a series by new author was a gem. I loved it! Roz is a "mage" without a house as she is on her own after a traumatic experience renders her expelled from mage school at 15. Now 30, she is a magical detective taking jobs with her partner and best friend. Fantastic mystery, bad, bad villains, magic... and the biggest freaking twisty I did not see coming. I can't wait for the next book. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC from Netgalley.
Was this review helpful?
I received this ARC for an honest review.  I am under the impression that this is the first book that J.S. Kelley has published. Kelley did a really good job of world and character building. I could envision  the world the author created. 
This story is about Roz  Featherstone who helps people kind of like a P.I. Roz is what she calls herself an arcanist not a mage. She did go to a mage school, but she was kicked out. Why??? You must read the book. She sometimes help people even when people can only barter type of payment. Roz and her partner Lysander was hired to find a nobleman’s son that was kidnapped by the grimoric (mage) guild named Alath. 
Roz and Lys agreed, but things do not go as expected. What happened? You must read the book. 😉
I did enjoy this book. I did think the author rambled in some parts, but a little bit of editing will fix that. 
I would recommend this book. It caught and kept my attention throughout the story
Was this review helpful?
J. S. Kelley has imaged a world of dark fantasy, magic, and secrets worthy of the best action and detective stories I have come across. A world of murder, mayhem, good versus evil that you often do not know what is right or wrong in the given situation.
Penador is a world that is held together by magic that controls spirits for running all kinds of amenities from a cooking burner to buildings reaching into the sky. Where the mage guilds along with royals may hide a secret that can destroy everything.
The heroine, Rosalind “Roz” Featherstone, who is sometimes likable and other times abrasive, suffered a traumatic event when she was attending a mage academy that changed her life so drastically that she was labeled “Gutter Mage”. A name that she really hates to be called. She becomes, after some fifteen years later, a brash, sometimes vulgar, feared, dangerous, pipe smoking drinker who with a childhood friend are hired to solve who is behind a break-in and kidnapping but during the investigation find more than they bargained for. Roz must then decide if it is right or wrong to save the whole of Penador from utter destruction at the cost of saving millions by sacrificing many thousands.
If you are looking for a good read that is well paced with elements of fantasy, magic, action, mystery, and drama this story I believe will fit the bill.
Was this review helpful?
Gutter Mage Kindle Edition

by J.S. Kelley  (Author) 

Thank you to the publisher, the author and NetGalley for the complimentary advance reviewer's copy. I am choosing to leave a fair and honest review.
This book publishes on September 21, 2021.
I really hope this becomes the first in a long, long series.
Filled with the flavor of a modern Urban Fantasy, including a foul-mouthed, cranky heroine who has magic she neither wanted nor asked for, a splash of Shakespearean names and more twists than Lombard Street in San Francisco, Gutter Mage brings action, humor and a bit of dark magic.
Rosalind Featherstone is cursed with the ability to manipulate flames and blessed with a nasty attitude that keeps people at arm's length. Except for her partner, Lysander, who brings her a case that will pay them enough to make their dreams come true. That case involves Simon Crowley, someone Roz was certain had died long ago.
Filled with action, magic and pure bad attitudes, this book is nearly impossible to put down. The twists and turns alone are fantastic. The characters were delightfully diverse and deliciously well-drawn.
J.S. Kelley's writing is both dark and funny. With a clear point of view and unique style, Kelley gives us a new world that meshes urban fantasy with an Elizabethian feel. 
An excellent book for fans of Queer Urban Fantasy.
5 stars out of 5
Was this review helpful?
Somewhere between detective thriller and the seedy back alley of a renaissance fair, “Gutter Mage” starts with a bar brawl and doesn’t slow down. A robust and exciting world, a slew of engaging characters, a well-crafted mystery, and lots of whisky fuel this novel that is a delight to read and hard to put down once you start.

Everything about this novel is fun, and streaked through with enough creativity to keep it from getting lost in some of the tropes it deals in and plays with. For instance, the world isn’t wildly unique, showcasing both the gritty and the pampered sides of a pretty common fantasy realm infused with, but not entirely dependent on, magic. Yet we learn of other countries that have championed an industrial revolution instead of magic, and their horseless carriages run through coal power instead of magical sigils. We learn a magic system that is unique and only just barely explored, allowing a whole lot more world to be discovered. And what could be a stock realm instead becomes more complicated, a backdrop where class and race can be explored in interesting, understated ways. Similarly, the characters could be archetypes – the hot-headed, foul-mouthed, powerful-and-usually-underestimated magic chick; the giant hulk of an accomplice that is better at fighting than anything else but has a heart of gold; the nerdy ex who can stop the need to talk about feelings, and so on. Yet Kelley manages to keep all of them interesting, fresh, and I found myself invested in numerous ancillary characters as well as the primary few. (If we don’t get some novellas about the past and present adventures of the owner of a certain roadside inn it would be a damned shame!) Even the mystery/thriller keeps you on your seat, some things but easy enough to guess pretty early on but other things still catching you by surprise along the journey. Kelley takes elements we are used to and comfortable with and tweaks them just enough to simultaneously pull us in with an immediate sense of familiarity and also constantly disrupting expectations. Additionally, the story is replete with examples of remarkable inclusivity, in terms of genders, sexualities, race, and other areas that marginalized communities often find themselves under-represented in popular culture. Nothing is subtle, and characters are even called out on occasion for small-minded views, but it also isn’t showy or heavy handed, it is just the world these characters live in, and it is refreshing and a great example of what art imitating life—even fantastical art where trapped astral spirits are what keep the street lights glowing—should look like. 

So, the characters and the story were great, and the writing itself was, like I said, simply fun to read. We stay in the mind of the primary character the entire time, but she certainly isn’t boring. And the very nature of a detective mystery/crime noir is well-served by a single point of view, keeping us guessing about the goings on of all the suspects, or other characters, as it were. The chapters are all pretty short, with none of them coasting but all of them pushing the action forward, either literally or emotionally. The result is that the writing is pretty fast paced, which really parallels the character and the nature of the story, so it all works. Once in a while it might have been nice to luxuriate in some of the emotions and experiences, but as our main character was particularly trying to avoid dealing with her trauma it didn’t feel out of place that we didn’t take the time. The story opens up a world that is just absolutely begging to tell more stories, with lots still left to explore in terms of character and the world itself, especially the nuances of its magical system, its socio-political class structure, and how those things intersect. So I am hoping that we get the chance to learn and spend more time with these characters in future entries to the series, and that means I wasn’t too disappointed in the areas where I felt like there could be a little more exploration, development, or exposition.

This isn’t for everyone, there is certainly a decent amount of profanity and also a heavy dose of (sometimes cavalier) violence. However there is a lot of richness to be found in this world and these characters, and if you are willing to accept them on their terms you will be thrilled with the adventure they take you on and will look forward to future exploits. 

I want to thank NetGalley and Saga Press, who gave me a complimentary eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is a world of magic and royalty, and the mages and their guilds are very powerful. Roz dropped out of the magic school when she was fifteen and even though she is as strong as a mage, she calls herself an arcanist, meaning she studies magic but doesn’t practice it.  Others call her the Gutter Mage, which infuriates her.

Roz has a very nasty exterior, violent and crude. But then we get glimpses of a different type of person, so sometimes she is actually nice and thoughtful. Other times she is murderous. Roz and her partner Lysander take odd jobs, barely getting by. But then a local lord offers a large amount of money to find his kidnapped son and the story takes off.

I like the world building; for those who can afford it, mages capture spirits and put them to work. Spirits power everything – lights, horseless carriages, even elevators. Mages use sigils, drawing intricate symbols to activate their magic, and I was amazed at the things they did in this book. 

It was difficult for me to like Roz, although by the end she had grown on me. I did like her work partner, Lys, who seemed to be a steadying influence on her. I thought her ex-boyfriend Orlando was cute and clueless, I really enjoyed him. 

I want to thank NetGalley for providing an ARC of Gutter Mage, and this is my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I give this an "R" rating for obscene dialogue and graphic violence (so far).

Roz is a bit rough around the edges, sassy, and powerful in magic.  Her partner in crime, Lysander is big, hulking, and calm.  Apparently they do good work together.  But I will never know.  I was still reading the first chapter when my tolerance for crass behavior and obscene language was surpassed in the opening scene.  I can get past some swearing, but not this trash.  Very disappointing!  I had been looking forward to a good story about magic.

1/5  Star for a partial read.  (Very rare!)

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the free preview of this ebook.

#GutterMage  #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
Gutter Mage, more like Gutter Mouth! *wink wink*

Rosalind Featherstone is NOT a mage, she is an arcanist that studies the use of sigils that bind spirits to the material plane to preform magic. She then uses this knowledge to solve mysteries and crimes with her partner and best friend Lysander. One day, Lysander approaches her with a job that could set them up very prettily--find the kidnapped child of a noble. Sounds easy, right? Well, little does Roz know that this one case will lead to a potential cataclysmic event that only she can stop. 

Overall, "Gutter Mage" by J.S. Kelley was a enjoyable and fast-paced read filled with great action, foul-mouthery, and a little spice here and there. The story was reminiscent of Jim Butcher's "The Dresden Files" with what I took as a Victorian-era flare, but stood all on its own. I would definitely suggest to give "Gutter Mage" a read if you are a fan of Harry Dresden, supernatural crimes, and strong female main characters.

**Thank you NetGalley and Saga Press for providing an eARC for review.
Was this review helpful?
With an interesting plot Kelley sets the stage for later books. While one thing is settled much is left up in the air. The plot allows for character development world building. This is a great start to the new series.
Was this review helpful?