By: Rachel Aaron
Making a living is hard. In a lawless city where gods are real, dragons are traffic hazards, and buildings move around on their own, it can feel downright impossible.
Good thing freelance mage Opal Yong-ae has never let little things like impossibility stop her. She’s found a way to put her overpriced magical art history degree to use as a Cleaner: a contract municipal employee who empties out abandoned apartments and resells the unusual treasures she finds inside for a profit. It’s not a pretty job, or a safe one–there’s a reason she wears bite-proof gloves–but when you’re neck-deep in debt to a very magical, very nasty individual, you can’t be picky about where the money comes from.
But even Opal’s low standards are put to the test when the only thing of value in her latest apartment is the body of the previous tenant. Dealing with the dead isn’t technically part of her job, but this mage died hiding a secret that could be worth a lot of money, and Opal’s the only one who knows. With debts she can’t pay due at the end of the week, this could be the big break she’s been waiting for, but in a city of runaway magic where getting in over your head generally means losing it, the cost of chasing this opportunity might be more than Opal can survive.
This is the first in a new series set in the same universe as my Heartstrikers books, but you don’t need to have read those stories to enjoy this one. MINIMUM WAGE MAGIC was written to stand by itself, so if you haven’t read the others, don’t worry! I wrote this book with you in mind. Thank you so much for reading!
I’ve had Minimum Wage Magic on my kindle for quite a while at this point. I really liked Aaron’s Heartstriker series, so when this popped up on my radar, I bought it. One thing led to another, and I ended up forgetting about it. Now, for the first time in seemingly forever, I don’t have any library books. So I surfed through my kindle, re-read a few favorites, and then decided to read this.
Minimum Wage Magic is set in the same universe as the Heartstrikers series in the city of the DFZ, Detroit Free Zone. It’s a fascinating city, and I was thrilled to see more of it. Also, since Opal isn’t a dragon, we got to see a new side of things. Her relationship with dragons is completely different from the previous series, and I loved the contrast. It was seeing things from the other side, basically.
Opal is reckless. When she reveals things about her past, she seems more calculating but considering she’s had months of bad luck, that may have a part to play. When someone is backed into a corner, they aren’t always logical. She is fighting for her freedom and is willing to do just about anything to get it. Except, she doesn’t. She has a line, and even when on the other side is the answer to everything, she doesn’t take it. That’s a character quality that I love, possibly because I’m not sure I could do the same.
A potential romantic interest is introduced in the form of another Cleaner named Nic. He’s part machine, and Opal is a bit afraid of him. But he saves her and will probably wind up being a cinnamon roll—another favorite trope.
I liked Minimum Wage Magic, and as soon as I was finished, I jumped into Part-Time Gods. It’s a short series with only three books, but I hope it’s not the last series we see in this universe. Really, Aaron has spent so much time fleshing out this universe, and it’s incredibly interesting. I could read more set here. I love the idea of a universe with books from all kinds of genres being written in it. Not sure if that would actually work, but at the very least, I’d love more books like this one.