Review: Minimum Wage Magic by Rachel Aaron

42385018A new book set in the DFZ?! Clear my schedule! I preordered this one on the day I learned it existed, and then immediately started reading it as soon as it appeared on the kindle. Hooray!

The DFZ, the metropolis formerly known as Detroit, is the world’s most magical city with a population of nine million and zero public safety laws. That’s a lot of mages, cybernetically enhanced chrome heads, and mythical beasties who die, get into debt, and otherwise fail to pay their rent. When they can’t pay their bills, their stuff gets sold to the highest bidder to cover the tab. 

That’s when they call me. My name is Opal Yong-ae, and I’m a Cleaner: a freelance mage with an art history degree who’s employed by the DFZ to sort through the mountains of magical junk people leave behind. It’s not a pretty job, or a safe one—there’s a reason I wear bite-proof gloves—but when you’re deep in debt in a lawless city where gods are real, dragons are traffic hazards, and buildings move around on their own, you don’t get to be picky about where your money comes from. You just have to make it work, even when the only thing of value in your latest repossessed apartment is the dead body of the mage who used to live there.

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“I just don’t want you getting your hopes too high,” Sibyl said. “As a social support AI, it’s my job to assist in your mental health, and these fits of wild optimism that crumble into crushing despair when they run into reality are not good for you.”

This book/series takes place in the same world as Rachel Aaron’s Heartstrikers series (which I loved. Like… a lot.), which means I could hardly wait to get my paws upon it. It takes place about 20 years after Julius and Marci’s story ended, and shows the city that came to exist because of them, but it’s not at all necessary to have read the Heartstrikers series first. This one makes mention of things that are… perhaps resulting from those events, but never in a way that gives things away for either series.

This is the story of Opal Yong-ae, who is a Cleaner. What this basically means is that she makes a living bidding on the right to clean out apartments whose renters have failed to pay their rent. It’s sort of like storage wars, but with cybernetics and magic in the Detroit Free Zone, or DFZ, a moving, living city that has a spirit of its own.

One day, Opal unlocks the apartment she recently won (read: she blew the door off of it by accidentally tripping a magical ward), and finds a dead body in it, some very well guarded papers, and hoarder levels of boxes of various magical history information.

So, she’s going to find out what those papers say, because anything that well guarded is very likely leading to something worth tons of money, and Opal is in quite a bit of debt and that could be tons of really helpful money.

While I didn’t love this one quite as much as I loved Heartstrikers, it was still a pretty fantastic read. I liked Opal as a character, and I cared what happened to her. I also really liked Sibyl, who is her ‘social support AI’ – an often snarky voice in her ear, more or less.

On her adventures, Opal ends up teaming up with a bit of a rival Cleaner named Nikola Kos, and he is a character with a mysterious and dangerous history, who takes Opal into places she wouldn’t otherwise go. I really, really liked Nik and just the relationship between him and Opal. Teamwork makes the dream work…. most of the time. 😀

There were twists and turns I didn’t see coming, and while I’ll admit that this one took a little time to really grab me, once it did, it really grabbed me and I was making time to read whenever I could. The last half of this book I consumed all in one sitting, because I just couldn’t put it down.

I can’t wait to see where this one takes me. It sounds like things are bound to get more and more interesting! 5/5 stars!~

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