Books review: The Craft Sequence

I binged the Craft Sequence and that was an incredible experience. The magic system is one of the most original and unique I’ve seen. It links magic to law and contracts. Studying magic means studying law, and there is such a school : The Hidden School up there in the clouds. None of the books are set at this school, but the main character of the first and fifth book did graduate from there. The currency is called “soulstuff”, basically bits of your soul, and the industry relies on magic and religion.

Not all the books are set in one city like most urban fantasy, this is not a series where we’re left wondering how is life in other cities, islands, countries. We get to travel, see different regions of this world and how cultures, cults and industries have evolved. This is also set along several years, one of them set several years before the others.

When I first read Three Parts Dead two years ago, I was a little confused and while I enjoyed it, I wasn’t compelled to pick up the next book, since it had a nice conclusion.

But then, I picked Two Serpents Rise back in May, and then went on until The Ruin of Angels that I had received as an eARC. It is now safe to say the Craft Sequence is one of my favourite book series!

Each books follow differents points of views and I loved that there is a great diversity of characters, most of them women, of all ages and ethnicities.

Trigger warning: Self-injurious behaviour (people draw blood quite frequently in this series, either for magical or ritual purposes) 

Three Parts Dead (Craft Sequence #1)

Like I said earlier, I had first read this one two years ago and I had almost no memory of it apart from some images that had stuck with me. It was almost like reading it for the first time all over again, since I have a bad memory.

There’s so much to like here. Tara, the main character, is a Craftwoman. It means she graduated from the Hidden School, and can use the same kind of power as the Gods.

This is set in Alt Coulumb, one of the last city with a live God in it. At least, it was. Tara has to go there with her new boss to investigate the death of this God and maybe, try to resurect him.

The Characters :

  • Tara Abernathy, gifted headstrong brown girl, kicked out of her school of “magic” and law for burning the lab of a corrupted professor.
  • Elayne Kevarian, awesome Craftwoman in her fifties, Tara’s boss and mentor. Basically one of the my favourite character of the series, even if we don’t see that much of her in there. She’s the kind of woman people on tumblr would say things like “I would thank her if she stepped on me“.
  • Abelard, anxious but brave priest loyal to the end to his dead god. He smokes a lot.
  • Catherine Elle (Cat), a Blacksuit (basically the police, possessed by the Justice goddess), addicted to vampire bites. She is a little bit messed up but has a good heart.
  • A side character, Raz Pelham, is a pirate/captain/vampire. This detail alone would make me want to read this! There’s also a gargoyle named Shale, part of an old secret society of gargoyle who were the old protector of the city.

The world-building is a little dense but upon re-reading it after book 2, 3 and 4 it was even better because I had a better understanding of it all. I’d still recommend to start there! I think it might be my favourite of them all.

There is a great review up on io9 explaining the magic system very well : Three Parts Dead mixes magic with courtroom drama

Two Serpents Rise (Craft Sequence #2)

This book is set in a completely different city. While Al Coulumb was a city with a God at its center, Dresediel Lex here is ruled by a God Killer Craftman (more skeleton than man now). This city is also strongly inspired by Aztec mythology and architecture and a craft firm is at the center, the main character working for them.

While not my favourite of the sequence, I would still very much enjoy to re-read this one because I loved to learn more about the city of Dresediel Lex and the way it functions. The mix of technology, magic, economy and logistic for a city in the desert is fascinating and something I’d never seen before in “urban fantasy”.

While the other books of this series have multiple points of view, here we have Caleb as main one, and sometimes an interlude from a different point of view. I’m still going to talk about the side characters below because they were awesome.

The characters: 

  • Caleb is a risk manager for the firm ruling the city and has to deal with a demon infestation in the water reservoir. He also is a gambler.
  • Teo is Caleb’s best friend. A queer black woman, not afraid to talk some sense into Caleb’s head. She was my favourite! Her girlfriend is a great side character as well.
  • Mal is the love interest of this novel and she is a cliff runner, sort of Parkour! There is way more to her than just that but I don’t want to reveal too much