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Being a cleaner may not be the most glamorous job, but Opal loves going through abandoned properties and searching for items to sell. Although lately she’s been down on her luck, scrounging for anything to help her dwindling bank account. When her latest property comes with a body included, Opal knows she should just walk away. But something tells her the deceased owner may be hiding something worth a lot of money. After all, not every person uses unique magical markings to protect their house. But as she digs deeper into the truth, another interested party surfaces. One willing to do anything to claim what’s hidden.
The world of Minimum Wage Magic is fascinating. The Detroit Free Zone, otherwise known as DFZ, is a living city. Filled with its own magic, it also has a soul. GPS is a must in DFZ as at any point the city can decide to move the buildings around and grow new ones! Rachel Aaron did a great job capturing the life of the city and its personality through the eyes of the characters. While it isn’t exactly sentient, it certainly has its own opinions.
Minimum Wage Magic leans on the sleuthing side as Opal searches for clues to what she hopes will be her next big score. There’s some action to keep the plot moving, but for the most part, it deals with character interactions and building the world of DFZ. A personal mystery is layered into the main plot as well, slowly revealing who Opal is and to who she owes money. This adds a nice level of tension throughout the story as Opal has a set due date for her next loan payment.
Opal and her AI Sybil are quite the team as they investigate. Programmed to keep her well-being in mind, Sybil is the constant reminder to do the safe thing. However, as readers will soon find out, through the hilarious back and forth dialogue between the two, Opal doesn’t always listen to the safe choice. And Sybil has quite the personality built into her allowing her to voice opinions on Opal’s actions.
The one downside I found to the story was the romantic tension. Opal being fully invested in her goal was oblivious most of the time. And the character who was interested in Opal wasn’t the best at voicing their feelings. While this fit with their personalities, when the story began to draw the romantic interest into focus, it didn’t quite fit in. I do hope to see what develops between the two as the story continues.
I will say though, being a Shadowrun player, the number of Easter eggs in Minimum Wage Mage made my role-playing heart sing. From the political and corporate overload dragons to the verbiage and slang used. I loved being able to view a world I’ve been immersed in as a player come to life in a completely new way.
This is marketed as a spin-off series, but have no fear, you can read Minimum Wage Magic without any of the other books. If you're a fan of urban fantasies and a science fantasy world, give it a try.
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