The Last Magician, Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Last Magician, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Clever con schemes distinguish New York City fantasy.

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Kids say

age 12+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Last Magician is set in 1902 in an alternate New York City. Students can talk about how the novel differs from historical fact.

Positive Messages

Learning to trust other people can be difficult but is generally worth the effort. Problems can often be solved through teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Esta is a thief -- clever, resourceful, brave, but also cunning and duplicitous. She is often running a con game on those around her. Sometimes she agonizes over her crimes but proceeds with them anyway,  but sometimes she pays attention to her sense of loyalty.


The Last Magician contains scenes of violence, but they are generally understated. People are stabbed with knives. A major supporting character is shot to death.


Esta and Harte are physically attracted to each other. They share a number of passionate embraces. Some scenes are set in a brothel, with no explicit details.


Set in the criminal underworld, The Last Magician contains some profanity, including multiple uses of "hell," "damn," "bastard," "bitch," and "s--t."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Much of the action happens in saloons where alcohol is served. The main characters usually do not partake.

What parents need to know

Parent's need to know that The Last Magician is a stand-alone fantasy by Lisa Maxwell (Unhooked) set in a magical Gilded Age New York City. It features a group of con artists attempting to steal magical relics. There are scenes of violence, magical and otherwise: a stabbing, a fistfight, a fatal shooting. Profanity includes moderate use of "hell," "damn," "bastard," "bitch," and "s--t." Some scenes are set in a brothel, but scenes of physical intimacy are limited to a few passionate embraces.

User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written byMayberry June 14, 2018

The Last Magician

I think that this is a very interesting book to read. I would definitively recommend it.

What's the story?

At the start of THE LAST MAGICIAN, time-traveling thief Esta is on a mission back to 1926 to steal a magical book -- a critical weapon in a war between the members of the Order and other practitioners of magic, known as the Mageus. The mission fails, causing drastic changes in the timeline. Esta must go back to 1902, find someone known as the Last Magician, and steal the book all over again. She falls in with a gang of dangerous criminals, but soon feels her loyalties tipping toward them. How can she save the future without destroying her new friends in the past?

Is it any good?

Con games and magic are a powerful combination in this complex tale of wizardry and crime. The setting of The Last Magician is both vivid and unusual -- New York City during the time of Tammany Hall. The cast includes escape artists, crooks, cons, and assassins, and author Lisa Maxwell gives each a welcome air of multidimensionality. Esta and Harte, in particular, flirt and feud, and their interplay proves to be one of the novel's highlights. Some readers may be confused by the intricate plot, but many will enjoy the constant surprises.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Last Magician presents an alternate view of history. Why do readers like books in which familiar settings are changed by magic?

  • The characters in The Last Magician never know whether they can trust each other. What are good methods of developing trust between people?

  • How is violence used in The Last Magician? Does it seem like a reliable method of achieving your goals?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and adventure

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