Review: The Mage on the Hill (Web of Arcana #1) by Angel Martinez

The Web of Arcana: Book One

A young magic user who wants desperately to live. A jaded recluse who has forgotten what living means. They’re each other’s only chance.

Toby’s wild magic is killing him. The mage guilds have given up on him, and it’s only a matter of time before he dies in a spectacular, catastrophic bang. His only hope is an exiled wizard who lives in seclusion—and is rumored to have lost his mind.

The years alone on his hilltop estate have not been good for Darius Valstad. After the magical accident that disfigured him and nearly drowned Pittsburgh, he drifts through his days, a wraith trapped in memories and depression. Until a stricken young man collapses on his driveway, one who claims Darius is his last chance. For the first time in fifteen years, Darius must make a choice—leave this wild mage to his fate or take him in and try to teach him, which may kill them both. The old Darius, brash and commanding, wouldn’t have hesitated. Darius the exile isn’t sure he can find the energy to try.

Yes, this boooook!

I had such a good time reading The Mage on the Hill and it has a secure spot on my all time favorites shelf. The bulk of the credit for my love goes to (well, besides Angel Martinez, obvs) Toby. Oh, that sweet, sweet boy, I just loved him.

I’m getting ahead of myself a smidge as I owe you the reasons I swooned so hard at this book and its characters before I get to the actual swooning. There were really so many reasons and the fact that everything came together in such an easily cohesive way makes it hard to pinpoint a handful of things, hence my babbling.

All the characterizations, from the MCs to the secondary and on down the line were so well constructed. There’s always a physical description of characters and good books will show the reader more depth, but this author always goes further and I always get a sense of her characters more deeply than I do with most stories. All the subtle movements and idiosyncrasies add up to create not just a sense of personalities but of their lives and motivations. It seems to all happen effortlessly which is why this authors books are so satisfying to read.

Toby is a firecracker with very little future to look forward to. Darius is a broken man after a seemingly failed attempt to teach control of wild magic to another mage ended tragically. Toby sees Darius as a last resort to save his life and for a guy with a likely apocalyptic future, he has the best sense of humor and attitude. It sounds a little weird considering, but he’s just that kind of guy and I absolutely loved him.

As much as Toby is an open book, Darius is a little tougher to get to know. He’s quite the enigma at first and I had the sense that he was much older than he actually was. It made sense given what happened and how his life has been. As an ostracized mage he’s been living like a hermit for years. At first it was a little off putting as I knew he wasn’t the man being portrayed so vividly, but as the story progressed and Toby gave Darius purpose (in a lot of ways) again, who I met at the beginning began to reconcile with who he became.

On the road to save Toby from the fate wished upon him by the mage guild, I got to meet three acquaintances of Darius and that was a treat. Arden, Elias and Zubayr are completely unique individuals and I can’t wait to read more about them in upcoming books. These guys are great and I loved the chemistry amongst all of them.

The premise of the story is fascinating and the worldbuilding had a great balance between focus on Toby and Darius and setting up for a full series. I’m anxiously awaiting the next one and I can’t decide which of the characters I want more of first. I mean, as long as I get them all (plus more of Toby and Darius), I’ll be a happy reader.

**a copy of this book was provided for an honest review**

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