Thursday, March 18, 2021

Book and Audio Review: Minimum Wage Magic by Rachel Aaron

Minimum Wage Magic

Rachel Aaron
Narrator: Emily Woo Zettler
Series: DFZ (Book 1)
Publication: Audible Studios (January 8, 2019); Aaron/Bach (November 9, 2018)
Length: 9 hours and 45 minutes; 293 p.

Description: The DFZ, the metropolis formerly known as Detroit, is the world’s most magical city with a population of nine million and zero public safety laws. That’s a lot of mages, cybernetically enhanced chrome heads, and mythical beasties who die, get into debt, and otherwise fail to pay their rent. When they can’t pay their bills, their stuff gets sold to the highest bidder to cover the tab.

That’s when they call me. My name is Opal Yong-ae, and I’m a Cleaner: a freelance mage with an art history degree who’s employed by the DFZ to sort through the mountains of magical junk people leave behind. It’s not a pretty job, or a safe one - there’s a reason I wear bite-proof gloves - but when you’re deep in debt in a lawless city where gods are real, dragons are traffic hazards, and buildings move around on their own, you don’t get to be picky about where your money comes from. You just have to make it work, even when the only thing of value in your latest repossessed apartment is the dead body of the mage who used to live there.

My Thoughts: Opal Young-ae is a mage and a Cleaner who buys places at auction to clean them out so that they can be rented again. She always hopes to find enough that she can sell to recover her costs and make a hefty profit in the bargain. But she has had a long run of incredibly bad luck for the last five months and is nearly destitute and she has a loan payment coming due in just a couple of days.

Opal works in the DFZ, which used to be Detroit, but now is a magical, lawless city filled with mages, cybernetically enhanced humans, new gods, and dragons. She is assisted in her work by her AI Sibyl. However, problems start when she discovers a body in the latest apartment she Cleans. She also finds mysterious papers filled with details about a spell but nothing that she can quickly turn into the cash she needs. 

When an apartment that has been broken into and trashed comes up at auction, Opal bids the last of her money on it because she recognizes the magical signature as the same as in the apartment with the body. She hopes that she'll be able to find a clue to whatever the mage was doing and that it will lead to a quick profitable result. 

But someone else also wants what the mage has hidden and is willing to kill for it. Luckily, Opal is saved by Nik Kos who is her major rival in the Cleaning business. He convinces her that they need to team up with a 60/40 split in order to find whatever the mage is hiding. 

The two have quite a few adventures as they track down the treasure. Lots of secrets are revealed. 

I really liked the worldbuilding in this story. A city that is constantly being rearranged by its god is a great setting for the adventure. I also enjoyed and empathized with Opal's determination to be free and to finally get out of the control of her father. 

Favorite Quote:
"The cost of survival is doing things you don't like," he said coldly. "Suck it up or give up, but don't sit on the fence and complain. It does nothing but waste time."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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