Book Review: The Magistrate by Keira Michelle Telford

Magistrate 12 ecoverTitle: The Magistrate

Author: Keira Michelle Telford

Genre: Lesbian Romance, Science Fiction Romance

Age Group: Adult (18+)

Rating: 4,5 stars

Purchase: Amazon

Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.


Poverty is rife in twenty-fourth century London, England. Crime rates are at an all-time high, and living conditions for many are bleak. Capital punishment and public hangings have been reinstated, and Magistrates, in their new role, are tasked with patrolling the streets to enforce arrest warrants and ‘terminate’ any civilians who attempt to evade justice — which isn’t always a noble pursuit.

The laws are strict, illiberal, and unsympathetic. If you can’t afford to feed and clothe yourself, you’ll be sent to the workhouse. If you fall behind on your rent, you’ll be sent to debtors’ prison. If you’re gay, you’ll be hanged.

For Carmen Wild, the latter becomes a potentially deadly problem when the discovery of a murdered prostitute brings her back into the life of her first love — the Madam of an East End cathouse — and the illicit passions between them are swiftly reignited.

Carmen is a Magistrate in the dystopian sociedty of London in the future. With elements of the Victorian era sipping through, this dystopian world is one of the most amazing settings I’ve had the pleasure to read about. It’s like steampunk, sort of, except dystopian, and set in the future. So it’s not entirely steampunk, and I’m glad it isn’t – the book is far more original and intriguing this way. Magistrates uphold the law whenever technology fails to do so. They track down criminals and serve justice. Everyone detests Magistrates for upholding such a strict law, and sometimes even Carmen detests herself and what she has to do. When she grew up, she was as far away from being a Magistrate as humanly possible. She lived on the streets, was sold to a workhouse, and then ended up in the clutches of the most vile and cruel man in London. She narrowly escaped thanks to the Madam of a whorehouse, Lina, stepping in. Ever since, Carmen has owed Lina her life, but so much more.

Carmen has long lost touch with her rescuer, but when the corpse of a prostitute sends her to the whorehouse she grew up in, Carmen reconciles with Lina, and they both figure out the years haven’t changed all that much in regards to their feelings for each other. However, in this dystopian society having a gay relationship is strictly forbidden, and warning voices go out to Carmen to stay as far away from Lina as humanly possible. The problem is Carmen doesn’t know if that’s what she wants to do…And then, when another figure of her past resurfaces, and Lina ends up in the middle of all that, she doesn’t know if she can leave her anymore.

I loved the setting. The society Keira Michelle Telford creates in The Magistrate is rich in detail. It’s a layered society with rules hidden behind rules. Instead of an info dump, we only get the information slowly, until our views on the society are fully shaped at the end. Carmen is a complex, but enjoyable characters. She’s stuck playing a role she never signed up for, having to focus on being the person she never wanted to be, while hiding her sexual preferences for everyone around her.

To add a murder mystery to a world and story already so complex, is more than a little impressive. Carmen had me interested in her story, sure, but the murder mystery was what pulled me in completely. It’s not clear at first who is behind it, or what exactly is going on, and as the plot thickens, the suspense only continues to grow.

My only issue with this book, is its portrayal of male characters. It’s like every single man who appears in this book has to be an asshole or an idiot. While there’s a fair share of those out there, I doubt all men are like that, and the book gives a rather one-sided view on the male population. But like I said, that’s my only issue with the book.

The Magistrate is a well-written, detailed, complex story about a woman trying to figure out who she is in a society that tells her she can’t be the one person she wants to be.



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