Magic & Steam: The Doctor – C.S. Poe
1882—Gillian Hamilton, magic caster and Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Magic and Steam, has been stripped of his title, badge, and freedom. Gillian’s true name and powers have been exposed, so now he’s kept under lock and key. To make a tragedy worse, Gunner the Deadly has returned to his life out in the Wild West and has not been heard from since.
Rumors of a doctor, known only as Sawbones, with access to illegal magic have persisted into the new year. Gillian believes that violence, chaos, and certain death will befall New York City if this criminal isn’t apprehended. And despite having lost his sense of purpose, Gillian knows he’s the only one capable of confronting this new madman—with or without the backing of the FBMS.
But such dangers should never be undertaken alone. Gillian will need both Gunner’s deadeye marksmanship, as well as his love, if he’s to detain Sawbones before irreparable damage is done to the magic of his world.
After The Gangster‘s cliffhanger hit like Gillian’s thunderbolts, The Doctor became one of my most anticipated books. The 3rd installment of the spectacular steampunk series, Magic & Steam, starts with things on an all-time low for our favorite special agent and magic caster, Gillian Hamilton.
In fact it was so abysmally bad, I thought there should be a misery rating similar to the heat rating for sex, just so we’re warned. Gillian’s true identity was exposed. He is now in a maximum security mental asylum in Blackwell’s island, a hell hole where the mad, a.k.a rogue magic casters, were left under the tender mercies of the sadistic staff. He has attempted escape several times, even gotten very close to doing so. The latest attempt landed him in a straitjacket in solitary confinement.
These events would have been bearable, but Gillian’s self-flagellatory thoughts and the overall tone of pure misery made things infinitely more wretched; they pulled me out of the story completely. C.S. Poe did such a masterful job making me feel Gillian’s plight that I felt a heavy weight on my chest, like the beginnings of depression. Not the author’s fault, she’s just that talented, and I, unfortunately, happened to have low tolerance for this brand of pain.
But I knew there’s an adventure and a reunion to be had, so I picked it up again. And yes, things do take a lighter tone once Gillian was out and about once more with help from an unlikely savior.
Where’s Gillian’s darling outlaw? Well, trust Gunner the Deadly to make a swashbuckling entrance! And save Gillian from an even direr fate. From this point, the story gave way to things we love best about Magic & Steam.
There’s the continuation of the tenderest love story between an outlaw and a federal agent. My favorite part about their romance is the peaceful quality of it, a sort of quiet center for Gillian and Gunner in the swirl of gunfire and explosion. I’m not sure I’m explaining it well, but it’s like how Gunner sounds in the audiobook. Always calm and even, kinda zen-like in the midst of chaos.
The titular doctor is the notorious Sawbones, a doctor who took pleasure in hacking off limbs during the war. He’s playing god, doing powerful magic never done before. Magic that is forbidden and highly unethical. While Gillian is haunted by his past, he and Gunner race to stop the doctor from his nefarious plans. Their adventure took them full circle, from NY to the wild west and back again.
The plot moved fast with plenty of adrenaline-pumping action scenes in an immersive alt-Victorian America run by ether. Not too many steampunk gizmos this time, but the magic was wild! Now, Gillian totally owned all his powers, and he’s unleashing them full force! I got such a thrill with him casting jaw-dropping spells left and right. He could be pretty hard on himself, but our boy is the most motherfuckin’ badass magic caster there is! I adore him!
Gillian’s superior officer, Director Loren Moore, and his informant, the Irish boxer Addison Day, play key roles in the story. Moore is also a loyal friend who always comes though for Gillian. I feel sorry for the guy. He’s been crushing on the spectacularly oblivious Gillian for years. Not sure if they met before, but I’m low-key shipping Loren and Addie. The boss deserves his HEA too.
Also, holy cliffhanger!!!
The Doctor is as awesome as promised. The opening chapters might have rattled me a bit, but this is a tale worth sticking around for. It’s one man’s struggle to shed a past he was forced to endure and become the person he is meant to be. A deeply emotional journey and a thrill ride that never ever loses steam!
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
Magic & Steam must be read in order. Those cliffhangers are not for the faint-hearted! Check out my reviews:
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