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Title: Ruthless Magic (Conspiracy of Magic #1)
Author: Megan Crewe
Rating: 5/5

Blurb (taken from Goodreads):

In the contest to keep their magic, the only options may be die… or kill.

Each year, the North American Confederation of Mages assesses every sixteen-year-old novice. Some will be chosen. The rest must undergo a procedure to destroy their magical ability unless they prove themselves in the mysterious and brutal Mages’ Exam.

Disadvantaged by her parents’ low standing, Rocío Lopez has dedicated herself to expanding her considerable talent to earn a place in the Confederation. Their rejection leaves her reeling—and determined to fight to keep her magic.

Long ashamed of his mediocre abilities, Finn Lockwood knows the Confederation accepted him only because of his prominent family. Declaring for the Exam instead means a chance to confirm his true worth.

Thrown into the testing with little preparation, Rocío and Finn find themselves becoming unlikely allies—and possibly more. But the Exam holds secrets more horrifying than either could have imagined. What are the examiners really testing them for? And as the trials become increasingly vicious, how much are they willing to sacrifice to win?

The first in a new series by USA Today bestselling author Megan Crewe, Ruthless Magic combines the magic of Harry Potter with the ferocity of The Hunger Games alongside a poignant romance. Fans of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, look no further for your next urban fantasy fix!

***

Review:

Let me start by saying that if you compare a book with The Hunger Games, I will start reading it with dread in my heart. I love The Hunger Games, I really do, and therefore, I will judge the quality of the book without any pity. If you dare compare yourself, then your book better make me lose track of time and dream vividly at night.

And you know what – this one did.

Trust me, I wouldn’t have reviewed this book positively if it didn’t reach my expectations. I loved the world created in this book. I loved the concept (à la Hunger Games, obviously) of magic testing through the “exam”, or, The Magic Games as I started calling them in my head. There’s just enough difference between the two books that this read as a fresh story. The addition of magic was wonderful, and I didn’t force myself to suspend any disbelief.

There are a lot of characters, but nothing feels overwhelming. You’ll get attached to the two protagonists and to the other students as you follow them through the book. They’re relatable and they aren’t boring. I have to admit I was heavily rooting for Rocío throughout the book, but I liked Finn for his determination and his easygoing nature. Another five stars in this category for character development!

Extra points for a slow-build romance, and for avoiding the possible trope of the heart-wrenching love triangle!

I’d like to thank Another World Press, as well as Netgalley, for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I can’t wait for book 2! Until then, I will pick up the novella prequel, Magic Unmasked.
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