A Queer Trade by KJ Charles

(Rag and Bone 0.5)

Apprentice magician Crispin Tredarloe returns to London to find his master dead, and his papers sold. Papers with secrets that could spell death. Crispin needs to get them back before anyone finds out what he's been doing, or what his magic can do.

Crispin tracks his quarry down to waste paper dealer Ned Hall. He needs help, and Ned can’t resist Crispin’s pleading—and appealing—looks. But can the waste-man and the magician prevent a disaster and save Crispin’s skin?

A 16,000 word story set in the Charm of Magpies world, and a prequel to the novel Rag and Bone (March 2016). This story was first published as part of the Charmed & Dangerous anthology.

A short prequel introducing the Rag and Bones next full length book.

It's an okay story set in the times of Stephen Day in historical time period where a magic council exists to keep order and peace...somewhat. Crispin finds himself in a bind when his magical master has died and his magical papers have been carried off. He finds himself at the shop of Ned, who is a business owner that deals with waste paper and the like, a "queer trade". Together they track down some of the sold papers and prevent worse mayhem than walking corpses, fish returning to life, and the like. Ultimately they find each other in the chaos.

It's a good introduction to the series. Both characters are likable, different off plays from each other. It was also in the controversy of mixed race relationship, with was another taboo back then. There is instant attraction but it's realistic and not harlequin-lightning. K.J. Charles always writes with a talented hand.

I do have a small complaint their relationship felt a little rushed for my liking, especially since it's the first time they've met. Since she introduced them in a short, though, there's not many other directions the story could have gone to have them come across convincing.

I love the magical world Charles created in previous series, so I'm glad to see it continue with new characters and fresh blood. Each time there are not only new magic users, but new ways that magic is used. The finger bone thing sounds painful, but the pen with the magician's blood is wickedly intriguing. Looking forward to more of the story with these two.

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