Synopsis (from Goodreads):
If you stop running, you fall.
Jonah Pastern is a magician, a liar, a windwalker, a professional thief…and for six months, he was the love of police constable Ben Spenser’s life. Until his betrayal left Ben jailed, ruined, alone, angry and looking for revenge.
Ben is determined to make Jonah pay. But he can’t seem to forget what they once shared, and Jonah refuses to let him. Soon Ben is entangled in Jonah’s chaotic existence all over again, and they’re running together—from the police, the justiciary, and some dangerous people with a lethal grudge against them.
Threatened on all sides by betrayals, secrets, and the laws of the land, can they find a way to live and love before the past catches up with them?
This story is set in the world of the Charm of Magpies series.
Warning: Contains a policeman who should know better, a thief who may never learn, Victorian morals, heated encounters, and a very annoyed Stephen Day.
This book is set in the world of Charm of Magpies series and, although you can read it as a stand-alone without problems, it will make much more sense if you read the previous books first. Apart from that be warned – there are some spoilers in the Jackdaw, concerning the last CoM part. Still after thinking about it long and hard I suppose I would like this one better if I actually read it first, spoilers or no spoilers. Let me explain.
I admit it wasn’t a bad story but somehow it lacked the effervescent exhilaration of the Charm of Magpies novels I learned to like and appreciate. Maybe it was because of a different pair of protagonists – they are so broken that you hardly expect them to be witty or crack a joke every now and then. There’s loads of angst here, real heartrending angst as two men try to save themselves and their future from the worst even though their chances are slimmer and slimmer. I do love flawed, broken characters so I swallowed the novel in no time but I admit the sheer reading pleasure somehow wasn’t there. After all Lord Crane had also some pretty grim childhood and yet he could be amusing, funny even.
Here you get the POV of a singularly dour, at times suicidal, undoubtedly broken Ben, a character who also happens to be the only one in the Magpie world so far to bear the full legal and social punishment for being gay; he was ruthlessly fired, disgraced, jailed, subjected to hard labor, and finally rejected by his family. All it happened just because he had no noble title, no magical skills and/or no money to buy himself some protection. It was very real but rather sad.
It’s not that I am objecting to the depiction of that miserable social reality which was, by and large, true but for the lover of Jonah Pastern–a windwalker, unapologetically gay dandy, morally challenged art thief–the effect was a tad dissonant. The result was that the most enjoyable scenes were those with characters from the earlier books. I did like the ending, so I’m glad I kept reading, but I can’t really see rereading this, and I can’t help wishing that Jonah had a book more in keeping with the rest of the Magpie stories–hilarious, sexy, witty, madcap, and full of magic.
If you’ve read and liked the Charm of Magpies series you are bound to read Jackdaw anyway. Personally I don’t regret buying it but I admit it left me a bit lukewarm so a word of warning: keep your expectations in check or you might end up disappointed.