“Relic” is a historical paranormal novel about Maggie, a teenaged girl who lives with her brother, sister and parents in the wild west. The book begins when a ravaging fire appears in town, taking the lives of her parents and brother. She and her little sister, Ella, are saved by her friend from when she was younger, Yahn, who is an Apache. Maggie is left destitute and with her little sister to care for. When she is looking for a job, despite her lack of training at any particular skill, she meets Alvar, a rich man and collector of relics.
Relics are the paranormal part of this story, and Maggie has always been fascinated by them. They are very expensive so not many people can own them. Relics are pieces of magical creatures (like fossils) that used to exist, such as unicorns and dragons. Each relic can be used to fuel a certain type of magic (e.g. fire, water, earth). We are introduced to this idea with the use of a unicorn horn in Maggie’s hands to heal. Some relics have more magic left in them than others. Maggie appears to have a special skill with relics and she has always been fascinated with them. Alvar takes a special interest in her because of this.
A lot of the book is Maggie being concerned about being seen as a lady and not as a prostitute or a woman of loose morals. She is a little obsessed with this idea, perhaps because it was drilled into her head by her mother before her death. Apparently, prostitution is one of the only jobs available to young women at that time (in the book). I’m not sure how true that is. Anyway, Maggie is offered a job to help with serving and cleaning at the brothel Alvar owns. There she meets Adelaide, one of the “working girls” there. Adelaide also has a cowboy fiancé and that fiancé has a friend, Landon. I wasn’t really buying Maggie and Adelaide’s friendship, as Maggie seems to want very little to do with Adelaide, but I guess when you are practically alone, you need someone who cares about you, and this is what they are to each other. I would label them as more of acquaintances.
A bit of a love triangle emerges between Maggie, Landon, and Yahn, but not really. It felt a little forced and awkward, as did most of Maggie’s relationships (friends or otherwise). Maggie seemed a little abstract as a person and I had trouble pinning her character down/understanding her. For that reason, this book fell a little short for me. Additionally, it moves very, very slowly, and I had a hard time really getting into the storyline. Maggie is kind of trying to figure out who started the fire that killed most of her family- but mostly (it seemed to me) just wandering through life and trying to be seen as a proper lady. It felt a little flat to me. However, that being said, the world creation was really interesting and unique- I don’t think I’ve read anything quite like this combination of wild west and magic.
Overall, it was a unique and intriguing book. I’d give it 3.5 stars, but I am rounding up to 4. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.