Rotten Magic – Review


Goodreads Synopsis:

Would you sacrifice your future to practice magic?

Artificers are the gilded princes of the Iron Empire. Mages are violent criminal outcasts. Devin competes to become the best artificer in the empire . . . but he’s secretly a mage.

All the apprentices in the Artificer’s Guild compete by building crude prototypes of powered armor for mock battles. When Devin transforms himself into a mechanical dragon to slaughter the competition, his rival Benson steps into the role of dragon slayer. But Devin’s secret grows heavier as he claws his way to the top. He’s started hearing eerie voices in his head: the stout words of the being he calls ‘the artificer’ and the oily voice of ‘the mage.’ How long can Devin be satisfied with fake dragon armor when the promise of true arcane power whispers in his ear?

Embark on Devin’s dark epic journey in Book One of The Artifice Mage Saga. Join the fantasy steampunk brawl of metal vs. magic where sorcery is bloody, science is greasy, and nobody’s hands are clean.

My Favourite Quotes:

“My knees buckled, but more from the weight of my memories than the weight of the box.”

“Something had happened – was still happening – to him, warping him behind that barrier. I clawed at it. I cursed at it. I could not breach it.”

“Reality waltzed in perfect time like a light, graceful dancer in silk tights, but his memory had that stiff, stilted quality as it moved with heavy, tortured steps . . . stomped on reality’s toes . . . tried to follow reality’s lead . . . and failed.”

“One day, Mother wouldn’t be there to protect us from each other. I was looking forward to it. I was dreading it. I was planning for it.”

“I had tried telling my friends the truth behind the legend. Nobody believed me. There were too many truths.”

My Thoughts:

I feel a bit like Devin with two voices in my head while I sat and pondered my review of this well-written piece of fiction.

I revelled in the descriptors the author provided not only of the characters but the objects in their lives from the oil lamp to the puzzle box:

“At first glance, it looked like a clock would look underwater, skewed and wavering and not quite clock-like, but almost recognizable at a distance behind the distortion. The frame was sound, the little-peaked roof was there, and it even had a dial. From a distance, the book looked normal, like any other large brass clock. But the closer you got, the deeper you plunged beneath the water trying to reach it, the more those subtle little difference jabbed at the back of your mind. Oh, with a few modifications and a wrench, I could start turning the outer casing into a nice timepiece, but that wasn’t what the thing was. Generations of the vain and curious had fallen into the chasm between the shiny face the box presented to the world and the true nature it kept hidden beneath a brass shell.”

I loved how he started out piquing the reader’s interest with Drusilla’s point of view, then went back in time to show us how Devin got to the Guild and finished off by capturing my attention again with Drusilla’s perspective the day Devin actually arrives.

There were such intricacies within the story from world building to plot and beyond and yet there were some holes which made me feel like I had decided to start reading in the middle of the story rather than from the beginning. As though I had somehow missed a history lesson in what had occurred within this world and as this novel is supposed to be a prequel I was left a little bereft.

I continued to rally dear readers because of the beautiful writing (I had to stop myself at five quotes, but you can see I squeezed one into this section) and by the end of the book, I was hooked to continue to find out what happened with Drusilla and Devin.

As I previously stated at the beginning of this section my mind was and continues to be of two voices when it came to reviewing this literary work. There were aspects of it which I absolutely loved and other aspects where I felt like I had missed something crucial to the plot. I do believe that if I continue on with the series (yaaaaay there are other books) that any gaps I found within this prequel will be smoothed over ASAP!

So dear readers I think you would enjoy reading this novel to prime you for a series, by an author whose words were ferociously highlighted within my own copy, of a world which has me so intrigued I need to read on.

I heart Rotten Magic this much:



You can find out more about all things Jeffrey Bardwell here:

Amazon Authors Page

Bookbub Author Profile

Twigboat Press Blog



*** Copy received from author in exchange for an honest review ***


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s