Book Reviews

The Mage on the Hill (The Web of Arcana 1) by Angel Martinez at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Fantasy / Magic / Wizards & Witches / Romance / Action/Adventure
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 08-May-2019

Book Blurb

A young magic user who wants desperately to live. A jaded recluse who has forgotten what living means. They’re each other’s only chance.


Toby’s wild magic is killing him. The mage guilds have given up on him, and it’s only a matter of time before he dies in a spectacular, catastrophic bang. His only hope is an exiled wizard who lives in seclusion—and is rumored to have lost his mind.


The years alone on his hilltop estate have not been good for Darius Valstad. After the magical accident that disfigured him and nearly drowned Pittsburgh, he drifts through his days, a wraith trapped in memories and depression. Until a stricken young man collapses on his driveway, one who claims Darius is his last chance. For the first time in fifteen years, Darius must make a choice—leave this wild mage to his fate or take him in and try to teach him, which may kill them both. The old Darius, brash and commanding, wouldn’t have hesitated. Darius the exile isn’t sure he can find the energy to try.


Book Review

Talk about being different and ending up excluded – this is an exciting tale about “wild magic” that not only kills its carrier if not tamed by a mage guild but that is also impossible to channel by any known group of mages. In this world, if the powers that be cannot put you in some “box” (the major and minor arcana of magic) and safely label you as belonging to a group of magic wielders that follow certain rules, then you are pretty much on your own. This is the situation a young mage named Toby faces – except it is much worse. The verdict for nonconformance is death by “euthanasia” before the unchanneled magic ends up killing the wild mage and everyone who might be close by when they go out with a bang.

But Toby is not the first one who has to confront this problem of being “broken” by society’s rules, and the only possible rescue can come from another misfit like him – a former professor by the name of Darius who is an outcast forbidden to ever teach magic again. Toby decides to escape his guild-decreed fate so he can ask Darius for help. What follows is an exciting adventure set in a fascinating world that is much like our own except with magic, a story about healing for two men who feel broken, and a wonderfully unexpected romance.

Toby isn’t even twenty yet, but he has some life-and-death decisions to make if he wants to survive. The stakes couldn’t be higher from the very start, and as he explores his options (of which there are very few), the suspense only grows. Darius is a recluse without direction who lives out his life isolated from society. When Toby manages to find Darius and asks for help, the fifteen years older mage does not exactly jump at the chance to prevent a senseless death – because, at least initially, he does not think he has the power to avoid what everyone thinks is inevitable. Also, he faces severe consequences if any guild finds out he broke his word never to teach magic again. In the end, after Toby’s first magical fit the day after he arrives, a kernel of defiance awakens in Darius: “The guild could go to hell. Maybe he couldn’t teach the boy without breaking the law, maybe he wouldn’t be able to teach him at all, but Darius wasn’t going to stand aside and let the guild destroy one more beautiful thing they didn’t understand.”

While the initial encounter between Toby and Darius is not exactly friendly and they rub each other the wrong way more than once, that changes as they get to know each other. Toby is still desperate and Darius is still hesitant to help because it may lead to both their deaths. But as they begin to figure out what is going on and how to maybe solve the problem, they begin to trust each other and that soon leads to more. Darius’s teaching methods are as unconventional as expected, and I had great fun discovering the details about how this world works and the role wild magic plays.

If you like creative stories with lots of magic and some very inventive worldbuilding, if you think that two outcasts can learn to work together and even find happiness as a couple, and if you’re looking for a read filled with mystery and secrets, discoveries and revelations, as well as some intrigue and a surprise or two, then you will probably like this novel. I adore it and can’t wait for the next installment in this series.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novel, 194 pages/53721 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 07-May-2019
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback, $14.99 bundle
Buy Link