by Nicole Glover
Series: Murder and Magic #1
Narrator: Bahni Turpin
Length: 14 hours and 3 minutes
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
Narration: 5 cups Speed: 1.3x
A compelling debut by a new voice in fantasy fiction, The Conductors features the magic and mystery of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series written with the sensibility and historical setting of Octavia Butler’s Kindred. Meet Hetty Rhodes, a magic-user and former conductor on the Underground Railroad who now solves crimes in post–Civil War Philadelphia.
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.
In this vibrant and original novel, Nicole Glover joins a roster of contemporary fantasy writers, such as Victor LaValle and Zen Cho, who use speculative fiction to delve into important historical and cultural threads.
Narrated by Bahni Turpin, The Conductors by Nicole Glover delivered a historical fantasy filled with magic, history, and memorable characters. As the first novel in the Murder and Magic series, you’ll want to grab your earbuds and listen.
The story alternates chapters from the past 1858-1865, with the present (1871). Most of the story takes place in Post-Civil War Philadelphia after the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted. This fantasy was rich with stories of the Underground railroad (with a magical twist) and the story of Hetty and her husband Benjy as they solve cases for the black folk in their neighborhood. This time they are dealing with a series of murders.
The magical elements were interesting and the more I learned, the more I loved it. Hester is a magic user and healer. Black practitioners use Zodiac magic. Hetty sews these symbols into clothing and her husband Benjy carves them into wood. Hetty also mixes herbs for medicinal purposes. The White folks have magic too, but use sorcery.
We learned a little about slavery and the way magic was used to keep slaves from running. We also learned how Hetty and her husband used magic to help slaves escape to freedom. When Hetty ran, she lost her sister and still actively searches for her.
The community they live in was interesting, and the author allowed us to see even among the former slaves a social ladder existed. The community depends on her and her husband to investigate cases that the police have no interest in, and ours begins with a murder of a gentleman they once helped free. He bears a strange mark and magic was involved
There were a lot of characters and I was thankful I had listened, as the narrator helped distinguish between them. The information as Glover built the world and introduced characters slowed the pace in the beginning, but the story quickly took off as the investigation began. The next book will be smoother as the groundwork for the world has been established.
Bahni Turpin is a favorite narrator here at Caffeinated, and I confess it was her name that made me stop and read the blurb. Her performance was stellar. She added depth and emotion to the characters and Glover’s story.
Fans of historical mysteries, magical elements, and colorful characters will want to add The Conductors to their audio shelves.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: