Reviews for The Conductors, by Nicole Glover

wowiread's review against another edition

Go to review page

3.0

Thanks, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for the early review access.

To start off, Hetty, the main character, is one of the strongest characters I've read and I love her backstory and motivation. But further (and it's possible it's just me) I was expecting something else from reading the summary. The pitch of this book made me believe it was going to be a suspenseful dark fantasy fused with historical mystery. Although I like my fantasies as I like my tea (yes, dark), I had trouble getting into this book and remain captivated. I think it was the pacing that put me off because the atmosphere is 100% there, I just wish I could've experienced more suspenseful action or psychological manipulation.

The historical fiction part of this book is on point and if this book would've only been pitched as that, I would probably have different expectations and give it more stars.

bibookworm's review

Go to review page

adventurous emotional mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5

First of all I want to thank Net Galley for this earc to read and review. I give the Conductors 4.5/5 Stars. This book was an amazing mix of historical fantasy and murder mysteries. I loved the magic system and character driven plot, this book is truly wonderful! The only issue I had with the book was it was hard to follow at some points but once you get the hang of it, the plot becomes easier to follow. 


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

foxesfairytales's review

Go to review page

emotional mysterious

4.0

palabrasdeunmundo's review

Go to review page

adventurous funny hopeful inspiring mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

 
[I got to read this book ahead of it's publication date thanks to the arc provided through netgalley.]
This book might be one of my new favourites. There are so many great things about it. Mainly the fact that is a deep, layered work. It has fantasy, a magic system that is completely unique and interesting, it has very well-done friendships between women, complex and real. It has love and tenderness, there is LGBTQ+ representation and it tackles head on the topic of racism and slavery and on top of all that there is a great detective story. Hetty is an incredible main character, she has as many flaws as good qualities and a very good development throughout the book. Benjy is also a great character, although I loved him as well I have to say not as much as I did Hetty. 
The only thing I didn't love as much is that at first I didn't find myself very interested in the murder and the investigation of it, this changed towards the middle of the book. I feel like it picked up a lot of speed towards the end which is completely normal and usually happens in books but it did make it feel a bit out of balance with the beginning. 
Overall this book was great and I hope with all my heart that there are more books with these characters and this setting. 


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

maryellen's review

Go to review page

adventurous emotional hopeful mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.5


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

jessticulates's review

Go to review page

slow-paced
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

2.0

I received an eARC of The Conductors from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

DNF at 21%


I'm so sad to DNF this one because the blurb makes this sound like a novel I would love, but I'm just not feeling it. In some ways I can't help feeling the publisher haven't done the best job here; there were quite a few missing words in the section that I read, so I'm guessing they've sent a very early draft out to reviewers, which, in my opinion, isn't fair on the author. This novel isn't due out until March so there would have been time for them to wait until a later, more polished draft was available. It's very difficult to enjoy a novel for the story at the heart of it when the way it's formatted is an obstacle in and of itself.

This is Glover's debut and I think that's clear from the way she's thrown everything at it. I love the idea of reading about a post-Civil War married couple who were conductors on the Underground Railroad and now solve murders, but this novel was trying to do too much at once. It's historical fiction, but also fantasy, and therefore has elements of alternate history, and a mystery novel and it didn't need to be all of these things. I love historical fantasy but, for me personally, this novel didn't need the fantasy elements and I found the magic system quite confusing and hard to picture. In fact I found a lot of this novel difficult to picture--people and places weren't really described in any detail--and I'm hoping this is something that has been worked on for the book's release. I'm very tempted to borrow this book from the library when it's available and give it another try because I do wonder if the finished book will be easier to read.

There are lots of good things about this book, though. Even though I found the magic system confusing and I'd rather this book hadn't been a fantasy novel, it is interesting! I don't think I've come across celestial magic in a book before. I was also very intrigued by the relationship between Hetty and Benjy because their marriage is one of convenience, but it's clear they care about each other more than they realise and I love seeing that kind of relationship unfold.

Ultimately I kept waiting for this book to grip and excite me and it just didn't. I could feel myself heading for a slump, so unfortunately I'm giving up on it.

girvinia's review against another edition

Go to review page

4.0

A truly original and fascinating tale of magic practitioners solving a murder in 1870s Philadelphia. I loved the world-building and the two different magic systems. The characters are three-dimensional and I really appreciated that their relationships were complex, especially the different types of friendship. I especially loved Hetty, the main character: a bold, competent woman who knows what she wants but is shy in social situations, hiding behind the performance of storytelling. Who is loyal but prickly, who has hurt her friends but recognizes it and apologizes. Hetty is a masterpiece. And kudos for having gay and trans characters and making it absolutely no big deal to anyone. I loved that.

The mystery they need to solve has plenty of false leads and red herrings and lurking bad guys. The pace of how information is revealed to the characters - and the reader - felt a little choppy. It felt like Hetty or Benjy occasionally shrugged off some questions they should have followed up on, but the solution/”reveal” wasn’t hurt by this.

Looking forward to the author’s next books!

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

apagetoturnreviews's review against another edition

Go to review page

4.0

As a debut novel, I was really surprised at how well the story was developed from a plot and character standpoint. While the pace is on the slower side of things, I really enjoyed getting to know these characters, and the events that happen at different points in time that help the plot move along some as well. Over all, I really enjoyed this one. Especially the bit of romance we got between Hetty and Benjy, who really only got married out of convenience and had no expectations for a relationship past that of necessity.

The historical parts for me were very interesting and I now have a better understanding, or at least a good thought process, about how important the conductors were for the Underground Railroad. Even though this was a fictional story with magical elements, it was an interesting narrative. The side of magic that these characters possessed was the MOST intriguing part for me as a fantasy reader. The ideas this author had and created were so fresh and new to me, using the ideals of celestial magic and sigils.

hearthside_storytelling's review

Go to review page

mysterious medium-paced
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

3.5

((Thank you to NetGalley and John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)) 

“Whether it was bodies found chopped up in a trunk, missing cauldrons, or cursed teakettles, they poked and prodded until they made sense of the senseless. They found nightmarish things tucked aware in the quietest of homes. Revealed culprits and caught thieves. And they found lost loved ones.”
The Conductors 

When I first started reading this book, I didn’t really know what to expect. I seem to have a habit of reading alternate history, post Civil War/restoration/wild west stories that often involve magic. It’s a very cathartic way to revisit historical trauma and a trend I’m hopeful will stick around. The Conductors is the latest in the trend and offers some unique takes. 

We follow our main character Hetty, an escaped slave who currently lives free in Philadelphia and solves crimes with her husband Benjy. Before settling in Philadelphia the two worked as Conductors for a fantasy take on the Underground Railroad, all while searching for Hetty’s long lost sister Esther. 
The final part that sets this novel apart is…. magic of course! 
 
This book is a little hard to talk about because it is absolutely STUFFED with plot and action. The pacing is pretty fast (and sometimes a little weird) an Hetty is just nonstop involved in something or with someone. The book has occasional flashbacks to Hetty’s past, answering questions that naturally evolve while reading a mystery. 

The world building is pretty natural and it is rarely a character explaining how things works. The magic systems are a little confusing, but if you give it time, it’s explained in pretty solid depth. I don’t want to spoil it because it’s really cool and has race elements that play into it without falling into the “magical negro” trope due to the magic being world wide and varied. (Of course this is an OwnVoices novel and unlikely to fall victim to these stereotyped tropes, but I saw some reviews that complained about the magic system without having read the whole book so I wanted to set aside any trepidation.) 

One of the unique elements is the different magic that is practiced by black people and white people, and I’d be excited in future books to see if any other ethnicity/backgrounds would practice other forms of magic. The magic is really comfortably built into the writing and the world. It feels so natural and the writing is very visually evocative. 

The world and the characters within it are both the strongest and weakest points. The world feels very full, very fleshed out and it feel like Hetty is really apart of a community. She has a lot of friends and there are a lot of female characters in the book. I’m pretty sure it’s an entirely black cast in this novel. 

The biggest problem is that, honestly, there are WAY too many characters. They all, mostly, serve a purpose because there are multiple plots running. I don’t really read mysteries, and this book is setting up for a series, so I’m not sure if this is regularly apart of this genre, but it was one of my least favorite things about the book. It seemed like every few pages was introducing us to another character, or their husband, or their cousin, or that guy they met one time, or the owner of this restaurant, or…. and so on. 

There’s SO much to love about this book. Hetty is hard to not love. She is one of the fullest female characters I’ve ever read. She’s very headstrong, talented in magic and sewing, very closed up about her emotions. She’s a great main character and she’s the best reason to read this book. Paired with her husband Benjy, a marriage that is very unconventional and has a pretty unexpected romance, their dynamic is infectious. 

Another character of note for me is Hetty’s friend Penelope. I am 1000% obsessed with her. She’s a talented singer and healer and very blunt and no nonsense. There were a couple of times where Hetty’s actions were kind of whack and Penelope was NOT tolerating it. 

Side note: Penelope reminds me a lot of Sophie’s sister in Howl’s Moving Castle. (Much more the book version than the almost non-existent movie version. But that’s a conversation for another day.) 
 
But for every Penelope-level character there are, seriously, 5 characters that feel… unnecessary. While this book is packed to the brim, it feels like it could really afford to trim the fat. A lot happens, but sometimes it’s over explained of filled with more background information than is needed. 

I also have a lot of issues with the last, like, 30% of the book. All the plot points are tied up (a little too easily for me…,) the mysteries are solved, and it’s set up perfectly for more books. However, the ending was pretty confusing and unsatisfying for me. The main motivations didn’t really sit right with me. But I’m going to cut some slack to be book because I was quite sick when I read it, and I might have just been in a nasty mood. 
Now bare in mind, I read an arc and it’s entirely possible that a lot of my problems can still be solved. Even if they aren’t, that shouldn’t deter you from reading this book if it checks all your boxes. It’s a really unique setting with guaranteed at least one character you’ll like, and a main character that is pretty excellent. The pros really outweigh the cons for me. I don’t really read sequels, or mysteries, but I would be interested in seeing where this series goes. 

And on a final note: 
 
How gorgeous is that cover????? 


Expand filter menu Content Warnings

keatynbergsten's review against another edition

Go to review page

4.0

This book had a slow start and took some time to get into, but once it finally drew me in I loved the rest. A interesting historical murder mystery involving magic.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest opinion.