REVIEW: Magebound by Katica Locke

A slave since the age of eight, Lark has been brutalized and victimized for almost as long as he can remember. When he finds himself the property of Lord Naeven Sactaren, a man as frightening as he is beautiful, his world is turned completely upside down as he’s thrown into a new life of magic, obstacles, and quirky friends that force him to change in ways he never thought he could.

Inexplicably drawn to his master, Lark struggles against his own fears and desires as he works side by side with the seductive mage. Never has he been so enchanted by anyone, which raises a frightening question: Would Lord Sactaren bewitch his slave in order to lure him into his bed? In a world where sex is magic and lust is power, can Lark trust what he feels, or has he simply been Magebound?

Warnings: dubcon, mentions of past rape and abuse

Category: M/M

Magebound, and it’s sequel Spellwrought, is a hurt/comfort slavefic fantasy novel heavy on the trauma recovery and on the melodrama. As a romance, it is angsty as well as having a good amount of fluff and fun. It’s a fantasy setting with magic, and reads rather like an adult fairy tale. It may be a bit of a tropey extravaganza, but it is a pretty well done and well portrayed one that will be sure to entertain and delight genre fans. It’s not overly harsh, and contains no noncon, so readers who want to avoid those particular tropes will be pleased with it.

WRITING
Lark has been a slave since he was a young boy, and is broken and bitter from the varying experiences he has had at the hands of cruel masters. The story begins as he is sold off at an auction to a new master; the sinister and widely feared mage Lord Sactaren. The story is written in first person, present tense, which although not my favourite style is utilized to good function here. This style keeps a narrative moving at a fast clipped pace, from moment to moment and the author did a very nice job with making it smooth and enjoyable, and it has a truly delightful cast of characters. It utilizes a lot of melodrama tropes, most centrally lack of communication and assumptions to a very heavy degree, which can be a bit aggravating for me personally, but it is well done enough that I didn’t mind and was thoroughly entertained by it. The darker moments of the story are short lived, and instead the focus is on relational drama and the developing feelings between Lark and Sactaren, interspersed with some nice light hearted slice of life.

EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT
I adored every single character in this book, and the author does a fantastic job at making you interested in and invested in each one of them. Lark especially, as the POV character, is endearing to a fault, lovable and kind, with emotional baggage aplenty but the fortitude to be bullheaded as well. He can indeed be a bit naive which may be frustrating, but it’s rounded with a healthy amount of self introspection. A lot of the narrative surrounds Lark’s past trauma and how he struggles to work through processing it, especially in light of his developing relationship with Sactaren, and to that end it is a lovely hurt/comfort experience.

Sactaren, meanwhile, is a fantastically romantic fantasy figure: He’s aloof, at times domineering and cold, at other times kind and gentle, with a dark past of his own giving him his own share of invisible scars. Exactly the sort of byronic figure that is fun to read about in a story like this. I wanted to learn everything about him, like why the villagers are so terrified of him and what happened to cause him to try to turn a new leaf. And although not all of these questions are answered as of the first book, there is enough connection with him to make a reader yearn to know more. Side characters are also all very entertaining and give a lot of charm to the book as a whole.

WORLDBUILDING
I am very interested in the world of Magebound. It’s a fantasy realm setting with a sci-fi bent; they have aircraft and interplanetary travel but the day to day lives and environment of the cast is very squarely high fantasy. It has talking cats, unicorns, spells and magic and portals, ect. While it’s not especially unique in that regard it is very nicely put together, and very fun and enjoyable. The interplanetary political structure involving slavery is briefly touched on, and I would have loved a novel that delved deeper into that but for a cheesy romance novel like this one, it does it’s job well while still leaving you wondering more. The interspecies dynamics are also very interesting. A bit more of the world is explored in the second book, as well.

STEAMINESS
Although the first book doesn’t have a lot in the way of sex scenes (there are more in book 2), the narrative is saturated with sensuality. Sactaren is a mage who powers his spells with lust energy and has a talent for seduction. It’s little wonder why Lark suspects that he has been magically enchanted to be compelled towards his beautiful master. That push and pull is truly delectable, the most fun part of the whole book. I adored watching Lark struggle to resist the embrace of Sactaren, the equal parts attraction and fear that colour his relationship to him, and the power exchange between them both. When magic gets involved, it takes on an almost sex pollen like craze, which will please fans of fuck or die tropes and a/b/o. Their eventual consummations are beautifully written, an full of conflicting emotions and apprehension, which was a delight to read. Although I would have loved to see Sactaren snap and truly have his way with Lark, I also very much enjoyed the tantalizing nature of the slow build towards Lark giving in.

I really enjoyed reading both Magebound and Spellwrought, and would purchase the teased third in the series Memoryache but it doesn’t look like it is available. It’s some of the most fun I’ve had in this genre, and I think that the author did an exceptionally good job at utilizing common tropes in fun and unique ways. I highly recommend it if you like angst and drama and depictions of a character working through trauma to find love. Lovely series.

Have you read Magebound? Let me know what YOU thought by leaving me a comment!

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