Trickster by Jeff Sommer is a gritty urban fantasy about a world in which magic is real, but all spells are powered by blood. The more blood one has to do magic the bigger the spells can be. Lem is a Trickster, one of the least of the magicians, because he refuses to use anyone’s blood but his own to power his magic. That means he and his friend Mags get by by grifting normal people. They charm people to like them or to make dollar bills look like twenties. Lem squeezes some information from a fellow grifter magician about an apartment. What he finds there is not wealth but trouble – the kind of trouble only the most powerful magic user in the world can cause.
As he tries to dig himself out of the trouble he’s found, he just gets deeper. His refusal to bleed others for his magic sets him apart from the ultra powerful who shed blood and lives by the thousand to work their spells. That refusal also means that he is weak. He should be easy prey for people with no morals.
I really like the way the Jeff Sommers has set up his magical system. It makes sense and allows for the ethical struggles that Lem faces. The rules of magic also shape the personality of the people involved. The characters are well crafted and complex enough to keep the book interesting.
The language in the book is street language, so reader be warned. I have read books with much stronger language, but if you are used to reading squeaky clean urban fantasy this book will take some getting used to. The language is not excessive, it is the kind of language that people on the street use. It is part of the authenticity of the characters and setting of the book.
I highly recommend the book for anyone who likes gritty, well written urban fantasy.