New York City is at war. Hidden among the towering buildings is an urban wilderness of magical espionage. The Arcane Rangers struggle to keep the Remnants at bay, but their enemy’s relentless infiltration has brought this secret world to the brink of collapse.
Sixteen-year-old Mark Shaw finds himself handcuffed in a police station in complete confusion. When he decided to help the young girl, he had no idea half the city was chasing her. She wouldn’t even tell him her name – but as they struggled to escape their pursuers, the world itself seemed to shatter. Clouds swirl, thunder claps overhead, and crevasses tear through the concrete, only to disappear moments later. It had to be because of her. Mark wasn’t losing control of his magic… was he?
Rescued by the Rangers from a chilling interrogation, Mark learns of this underground world. With the Remnants now hunting him, Mark goes to the Bessborough, an ancient training facility hidden in Brooklyn Heights to find his desperate answer to the missing girl. Here, Mark finally meets other magical students and is taught to control his magic while navigating a minefield of ancient rivalries, deception, and double agents.
Attila Nadori’s New York City is plausible. Why couldn’t there be an underground headquarters for unknown magical Rangers? Of course, an ancient training center for young Rangers could be hidden in plain sight in Brooklyn Heights. Why wouldn’t horrific, magically enhanced monsters attack people in parks? Ancient rival groups infiltrating the power brokers of the city? Sure. I was drawn in – interested, intrigued, and dying to know more.
The hero, Mark, is an orphan shuffled from home to home who, understandably, has a bit of a problem with authority. He’s been looking after himself for so long, he has trouble taking orders, so once he’s extracted from the police station and enters official Ranger training, his resistance causes a few problems. His magic, which he’s had to hide his whole life, is different and difficult to control. But he truly cares for Addy, the young girl that got him into this mess in the first place.
Addy’s magic is so powerful she’s hunted by both sides. Mark is the only one who can stop her nightmares from unleashing magic that could tear the training facility to pieces.
Doubt is cast on the history of the two sides, the Arcane Rangers and the Remnants. Mark begins to wonder what the truth really is. I wondered too, as the reader, and just when things looked as though we might get some answers, the story ends.
I was with it right until it stopped – didn’t want to stop reading, in fact. However, the ending left me unsatisfied. I felt cheated even if there’s going to be another book, not enough of the story was wrapped up. Too much left unsaid and the final battle scene seemed too convenient, even contrived. I felt the author’s touch pulling the strings, and it left me wanting. Not the good wanting when you end book one and are left panting for book two, but an “unfulfilled promises” kind of hanging.
3 out of 5 stars – Worth the Read
The ending is the reason for the 3 stars. With a different conclusion, I’d rate this a 4 or even a 5. But, even with this disappointment, I recommend you read Maw of Mirrors if you are into espionage and action mixed with a bit of mystery. Learn the world, get to know the characters and the background, enjoy the adventure and teenaged bungling, angst, and antics, then get ready for the next installment which is certain to tip the scales toward the fulfillment this one lacks.
This book was first reviewed on Reedsy Discovery.