BINGO – Cityscape
Briar Moss and his teacher Rosethorn have travelled to Chammur in order to expose Briar to the greater world and help farmers with their crops. While in Chammur, Briar gets to know the local street kids. He was a former street kid himself, so he feels an automatic kinship with these ganged up kiddos. One child, Evvy, stands out to Briar and not only because she’s the only street kid who isn’t in a gang. She has ambient magic that presents itself in stones and rocks, and according to the rules that govern mages, Briar is her new teacher since he discovered her and her magic. While training, there’s a gang war brewing in Chammur, and Briar and Evvyare caught in the middle.
Pierce is back! With Magic Steps out of the way, Pierce shines again. At the forefront are themes of classism, community, and loyalty. Briar is forced to reconcile his own upbringing in a street gang as an orphan with the violence and poverty he sees in Chammur. Briar has also thought that his gang growing up was his family, his protector. He thought gangs were absolutely necessary, and at the end of the day, not so bad. But now that he’s on the outside of a gang war looking in, he must confront his own rose-tinted memories of his life as a gang member and question the morality of gangs. And Pierce provides no clear cut answers here. She doesn’t spoon feed anything to the reader with her own views despite this being a young adult novel.
Pierce also tackles classism and castes in Street Magic. Though she’s a powerful mage, Evvy is looked down upon by the local stonemage because she’s an orphan and a street kid. He writes her off right away without giving her a real chance. Additionally, one of the local gangs is being backed by a rich member of the elite. Though she is financing a street gang, providing food, shelter, and tools, her disdain for the lower class is clear. The gang members struggle with finding their place in the world and rail against the injustice of the hand they were given.
There’s not much new in this novel regarding magic besides learning about a new type of ambient magic which still follows a similar pattern that we’ve seen with other types of ambient magic. However, Pierce does continue to push the limits of violence. Magic Steps was certainly more violent than all of the previous series, and Street Magic is just as violent as Magic Steps. I continue to be shocked at the level of detail that Pierce was allowed to get away with in a young adult book.