Drift and Dagger
by Kendall Kulper (2015)
Mal used to have a home, a best friend, and a secret. He lost all three the day Essie Roe exposed him as a blank: someone unaffected by magic. Everyone hates and fears blanks—even Mal.
Now Mal travels the world in search of dangerous magical relics with his partner in crime, Boone. When they learn of a dagger that steals magic, Mal may have found a way to even the score.
Let me get this out of the way first. Drift & Dagger is a companion book to Salt & Storm, which I’m not at all interested in (too much romance for me). But Drift is a heist novel in a fantasy setting, and you know how I am about those. Reviews say it can be read separately, and even advise reading Drift first, so I did. And yes, Drift stands alone just fine.
Drift & Dagger is set in nineteenth century New England, at the height of the whaling industry, and you can practically smell the salt in the air. The world is saturated with magic, for everyone but Mal. But what makes him an outcast also makes him a uniquely-skilled thief. His quest for an illusive artifact will take him around the world, delivering enough capers and narrow escapes for anyone else who might share my weakness for con men. (If you do, check out my list of Ten Heist Novels to Fall For.)
But it’s character which keeps the story grounded. If you like morally ambiguous heroes driven by painful pasts, Mal is your man. His childhood friendship with Roe, revealed in bittersweet memories, provides the context you need to understand Mal and the quest for revenge that drives him. Drift and Dagger is a fun, fast fantasy in a unique setting, and only a minimal amount of romance.
* Fast-paced heists with magic
* Flawed, morally ambiguous heroes
* Unique historical setting