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As a conductor on the Underground Railroad, Hetty Rhodes helped usher dozens of people north with her wits and magic. Now that the Civil War is over, Hetty and her husband Benjy have settled in Philadelphia, solving murders and mysteries that the white authorities won’t touch. When they find one of their friends slain in an alley, Hetty and Benjy bury the body and set off to find answers. But the secrets and intricate lies of the elites of Black Philadelphia only serve to dredge up more questions. To solve this mystery, they will have to face ugly truths all around them, including the ones about each other.
I originally received the arc of, The Conductors, from Netgalley last year. This part of my Netgalley and Edelweiss Challenge for this year. I’ve had this book for a while and finally had the time to read it. The Conductors is a debut novel by Nicole Glover. The premise of the book is original, Glover creates a world right where Black People possess and master magic. Set right after the end of slavery during the Reconstruction Era, Glover combines history and fantasy. The magic system is both unique and inventive, especially due to the fact that there are two types of magic at hand, sorcery and celestial. Most Black people practice celestial magic created from constellation forms. While white people had to create sorcery and use wands. We are introduced to married couple Hetty and Benjy, the investigators solving disappearances and murders that the police won’t seem to take an interest in. Along with them are great supporting characters that are fully developed.
The book takes place after the Emancipation Proclamation has been issued, but there are many flashbacks giving us insight into what Hetty and Benjy were doing before they began their business as magical investigators. They were conductors in the Underground Railroad. The main part of the book is the investigation into present-day murder. However, stated above the reader gets glimpses into where the characters came from. Especially how Hetty came to be separated and searching for her sister.
I did struggle a bit with the pacing; I love a good slow-burning novel, but the story felt like it stalled a bit in the middle. I wished the magical system was developed with more and better explanations. Along with the sorcery because there are Black people who practice sorcery and not celestial magic. My other issue with the storytelling is that there was too much information in one story. I hope in the next continuation of the series, The Undertakers, this is cleared up. I did like reading a story where Black people are magic.
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