Cover Image: Gutter Mage

Gutter Mage

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Member Reviews

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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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Such a fun tale of intrigue, magic, betrayal and sass! Rosalind Featherstone, aka Roz, is a no-nonsense magical investigator - some might even say mercenary! After leaving her magical studies after a devastating betrayal, her unique skills are now available for whomever can pay her fees, or at least make it worth her while. She's done playing to a system that sticks it to the little guy and goes out of her way to make them as annoyed as possible - something she's VERY good at :) But when an old enemy surfaces in the research for her latest case, she'll have to choose where her loyalties lie and just how much she's willing to lose.
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My thanks to NetGalley for making an eARC of this book available to me.

Good intro book to a new series (obvious from the ending) about a very prickly not-a-magician investigator.  (She's a self proclaimed "arcanist".)  While the book bogged down for me a bit in a couple of places, it was well worth sticking with it.  The book answered a few questions, while leaving plenty unanswered for future books to fill in.  I heartily look forward to the next book in this series.
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Gutter mage wasn't quite what I expected it would be, it was so much better.  Reminiscent of The Dresden Files with the feel of a DnD campaign, this book is about Roz, the so-called Gutter Mage (a title she hates).  Once a mage, now an arcanist, Roz and her partner Lysander take odd jobs around town before seemingly catching a break when a local lord hires them to find his kidnapped heir.  As these stories normally go, the job is a lot more complicated than they first thought, and will force Roz to deal with ex-boyfriends and unwanted blasts from the past in the search for a paycheck (and maybe saving the world).  Roz is a wonderful character, fitting a lot of the tropes of your standard hard-boiled noir detective with the added bonus of fire magic.  Roz can be very abrasive to the people around her, but I never found her to be an unlikeable character.  Lysander and Orlando (the ex-boyfriend) are also interesting characters, and there's a full cast of characters that seem fascinating, though insubstantial and I hope that some of them get fleshed out in future books. 
 There's more mystery and investigation/detective work involved than I originally thought there'd be, but it taking place in a fantasy setting made it feel very fresh and exciting to read.  This book offers a great genre blend of mystery and fantasy, and is a strong set up to what promises to be an really fun series.
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Great cover. I really wanted to like this book but I gave up after one chapter, too much swearing. Also, it isn’t necessary to describe every single person in the bar. I felt like the first chapter was trying to establish street cred for the protagonist through swearing and a fairly pointless bar fight, but it didn’t really add to my understanding of the story or the character. Which is too bad, because her hand marks and powers sounded interesting. I hope that some of the gratuitous description and overdone swearing can be toned down a bit so that the plot and characters have more chance to shine.
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Roz remind me of the character from Conjuring Shadows quite a bit, mixed with more light heartedness. This novel was fun to read with an ending that will make you want number 2. Not the cliff hanger everyone hates, and a great novel by itself I would argue.
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Roz, the Gutter Mage (although she hates that name) is your prototypical rough person with a heart of gold. When the job that is supposed to pay big bucks starts looking wrong, she has to decide how much she wants to get involved and how badly people will be hurt if she _doesn't_ get involved. 

This was delightful! It kind of reminds me of the early Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels work. The world building is really well done and the mystery aspect just made this book flow along. Finally, the finale of the book leaves you with some nice, juicy long-term mysteries to mull over at 2 am when you can't get to sleep. I can't wait for the next one!
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