ARC Review: Notorious Sorcer or a book that was almost but not quite, and yet it was so in the best possible way!

Hello everyone! I hope you all are happy and safe, and I hope that you are reading some really good book! Today I am finally here with a review of a book that I read while on hiatus, or around that time anyway, and it is a book that surprised me, in a lot of ways, so now I am here to share it with you! And yes, the title of this post is a tad strange, but I hope it would make sense after the review!

Thanks to NetGalley and to the Editor. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Notorious Sorcerer
Series: The Burnished City #1
Author: Davinia Evans
Publication Date: September 13th, 2022
Pages: 400

Since the city of Bezim was shaken half into the sea by a magical earthquake, the Inquisitors have policed alchemy with brutal efficiency. Nothing too powerful, too complicated, too much like real magic is allowed–and the careful science that’s left is kept too expensive for any but the rich and indolent to tinker with. Siyon Velo, a glorified errand boy scraping together lesson money from a little inter-planar fetch and carry, doesn’t qualify.
But when Siyon accidentally commits a public act of impossible magic, he’s catapulted into the limelight. Except the limelight is a bad place to be when the planes themselves start lurching out of alignment, threatening to send the rest of the city into the sea.
Now Siyon, a dockside brat who clawed his way up and proved himself on rooftops with saber in hand, might be Bezim’s only hope. Because if they don’t fix the cascading failures of magic in their plane, the Powers and their armies in the other three will do it for them.

When I started this book, I did it by accident. Obviously, I wanted to read it, since I requested the ARC, but it wasn’t planned. It happened that I had some time on my hands and decided to read a bit. But since I didn’t have my e-reader with me, just my phone, I decided to try this one out, because it was on hand and just read a bit, and then go back to it once I finished with my main reading. Or this was the idea when I started it: just sampling it while I was waiting, and then going back to it in another moment.
But once I started to read it, I just had to keep going. I was hooked and couldn’t put it down.

The writing was what hooked me right away if I have to be completely honest, but there are a ton of good things in this book. It was a compelling and truly enjoyable book, but it was at the same time like an itch, something that you constantly scratch but that won’t give you full satisfaction. I know, it is not the most compelling image, sorry about that, but I feel it is quite accurate. It is always like this book is almost but not enough. I constantly needed more. More world-building, more character development, more background, more… more. But, at the same time, it is not that the book is lacking. We have a fascinating world-building, an intriguing magic system, intriguing characters, and a story that constantly moves forward. And yet…. it was almost but not enough. But, strange as it may sound, this was just an added layer to the reading, it wasn’t something that bothered me, but it was something that, in some ways, enriched the experience. Sure, sometimes it was not the most satisfying feeling in the world, and I would have loved for more development, in general, but the book is solid, and it is captivating. So it is not really a complaint, just a statement, strange as it may sound.

As I was saying, the first thing drawing me in was the writing. It borders on purple, from time to time, but it is just coasting it, and it remains quite beautiful all the time, with some more imaginative and poetic peaks here and there.

The bravi were denizens of the night – the feet that rattled fleet as a passing rain shower over your roof tiles, the midnight laughter that promised mayhem and crossed blades and adventure.

Or

He was so focused on it that he barely heard the whistle from above. Not like a bravi signal, no human sound at all; more like the sigh of air ripped through a grate. The sound of an angel’s wings scything through excuses.

And the setting was vivid and fascinating. It has some Italian vibes, or that could just be the bravi thing, but still… and the oriental ones, like byzantine or similar. And you get the feeling of really being there, with our characters, strolling (or more often than not, running) through the streets and the houses of this city. And I loved it!
Bezim is just a city, true, but it is true before our eyes, and I wanted to explore more of it! Again, it was almost but not enough. I wanted more of it, more of its cafes and locals, more of its streets and buildings. More!

The plot is original, and unique in some parts. The author made some unusual decisions here and there, so you are constantly on the ball of your feet, because some things you can see clearly but some others take more time, and you just need to know what would happen next, and what the author would throw at you. It makes for an interesting read!
And last but not least, we have some fascinating characters. Syon is our MC, he is an Alchemist of a sort, he is mostly self-thought and his deepest wish is to acquire an education on it. It is his ultimate goal, and he tries to keep all his money for it and to find every little bits and scraps to help him learning. He is dedicated, he is strong-minded, and he is constantly following knowledge. In some respects, knowledge is his drug of choice, and it will make him take some quite unexpected or extreme decisions, here and there. And this was a thing that I highly appreciated. He is not always taking the easy way out, or the morally right decision, sure, but the is always true to himself. It is a peculiar thing, from time to time, sure, but it was really well done!
And he is not the only interesting character in this book, but all the other characters stand true to the “almost but not quite enough”, because it is true that all of them are quite developed, no one of them is plain or bidimensional, at all, it is not that, but it is that all of them are quite real, quite there but not yet. There is something minor, really minor, lacking, and so I wanted to know more about all of them, I wanted for them to have more space on the pages, to have been more… developed in a sense, even if, all of them, were portrayed well, and were alive on the pages.
Anahid was a favorite of mine in this book, her self-discovery is one of the most satisfying ever, and this book is worth reading for her alone, but to be honest, Zagiri and Izmirlian are worth meeting for sure (and okay, okay, they are not the only ones, you should really read the book to see how many interesting characters we have!).

Also… alchemy!

It should be 3.75 but I don’t have such accurate hearts!!

This was an intriguing and magical reading, that kept me captivated form the start to the end! And what about you? have you read this one? Or are you planning to do it?? Let me know!!

Happy reading!
S.

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7 thoughts on “ARC Review: Notorious Sorcer or a book that was almost but not quite, and yet it was so in the best possible way!

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery says:

    Well, color me intrigued! 🙂
    Since this looks like the first book in a series, probably what you felt was “not enough” was the author’s decision not to cram too much in the first volume, and the next ones will expand on all the details that you look for. Still, I’m marking this one for future reads, so thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: NOVEMBER WRAP-UP!

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