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Rag and Bone #1

Rag and Bone

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It’s amazing what people throw away…

Crispin Tredarloe never meant to become a warlock. Freed from his treacherous master, he’s learning how to use his magical powers the right way. But it’s brutally hard work. Not everyone believes he’s a reformed character, and the strain is putting unbearable pressure on his secret relationship with waste-man Ned Hall.

Ned’s sick of magic. Sick of the trouble it brings, sick of its dangerous grip on Crispin and the miserable look it puts in his eyes, and sick of being afraid that a gentleman magician won’t want a street paper-seller forever—or even for much longer.

But something is stirring among London’s forgotten discards. An ancient evil is waking up and seeking its freedom. And when wild magic hits the rag-and-bottle shop where Ned lives, a panicking Crispin falls back onto bad habits. The embattled lovers must find a way to work together—or London could go up in flames.

This story is set in the world of the Charm of Magpies series.

Warning: Contains a warlock who needs to go straight (but isn’t), a waste-man running out of patience, blood magic, bad-tempered justiciars, and a pen with a mind of its own.

146 pages, ebook

First published March 1, 2016

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About the author

K.J. Charles

59 books8,630 followers
KJ is a writer of romance, mostly m/m, historical or fantasy or both. She blogs about writing and editing at http://kjcharleswriter.com.

She lives in London, UK, with her husband, two kids, and a cat of absolute night.

Twitter https://twitter.com/kj_charles
Join the lively Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/13876...
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Please **do not** message me on Goodreads as I no longer check the inbox due to unwanted messages.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 400 reviews
Profile Image for Julio Genao.
Author 9 books2,013 followers
March 11, 2016
this book is like all my...


and it is has happened.

to my body.

twice, now.



oh, hellfuckyes.

just... just take my credit card, do whatever, IDEC

i just

i must possess the pretty
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 59 books8,630 followers
April 17, 2017
A new novel featuring Crispin Tredarloe and Ned Hall, who first appeared in 'A Queer Trade', my story in the Charmed and Dangerous: Ten Tales of Gay Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy anthology.

Ned's a waste-man, who buys and sells used paper. Crispin is a supposedly reformed warlock who's having trouble going straight. Neither of them is at all equipped to deal with magical mayhem, necromancy or spontaneous combustion. Unfortunately, somebody's got to...

This story is set in the Charm of Magpies world, round about the same time as Jackdaw. I hope you enjoy it!
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,883 reviews5,801 followers
March 3, 2016
K.J. Charles does it again with another fabulous, exciting, endlessly entertaining story. I know I can always count on her to deliver when I need her most!

I wholeheartedly recommend this book with a few minor caveats. First of all, I think all prospective readers of this story should start with A Queer Trade, the prequel novella. I think it gives background information that is really necessary to understand the main characters and the dynamic of the relationship between Crispin and Ned. Secondly, you should NOT jump into this series without first reading The Magpie Lord. It's best if you read the entire Magpie Lord series before you start this one. There is so much information there about the magical world in which these books are set that I think you are operating at a deficit if you start your The World of A Charm of Magpies journey here.

Now that that background stuff is out of the way I can get to the story. Rag and Bone was so on point. To start, I don't think I've ever read a historical romance where the main MCs are in an interracial relationship, much less a M/M historical with one (shout out to Courtney Milan for The Heiress Effect where the side characters have an interracial romance). Combine that with some really fascinating and well-crafted magical world-building and tons of intense action, and you've got yourself a winner.

I adore how K.J. Charles envisions her Magpie world and the amount of thought she takes with her storytelling. Her characters' magical practices make sense in that brilliant way that so few authors are able to pull off. I loved Crispin's unique strain of magic and the pressure that that put on him. It was a case of really masterful writing.

Though I wasn't quite up to the same level of emotional investment with Crispin and Ned as some of the other K.J. Charles pairings, I think that I could grow to be obsessed with them as a couple too. There was something special forming there, and I have extremely high hopes for this offshoot series.

**Copy provided in exchange for an honest review**
February 7, 2016

I have not read A Queer Trade, the prequel to this story. Perhaps if I had, I would have been more engaged with these characters.

The writing is brilliant: just on this side of cheeky and sprinkled with sly humour. Plus, I never get tired of visiting with the short but terrifying Stephen Day.

This story seems to overlap with Flight of Magpies and Jackdaw. Jenny Saint has been attacked; Stephen has announced his departure from the justiciary and is wearing Crane's ring; Jonah Pastern is at large; and Esther Gold, Stephen's partner, is pregnant (I don't remember this mentioned in the other books, but it's sort of a thing here; Stephen will not let the poor woman be).

Meanwhile, Crispin, suspected of being a warlock, is trying to learn the "right" way to do magic. But Crispin is a graphnomancer; he WRITES magic, a rare skill associated with those who'd use magic for their own selfish gains.

Crispin finally finds a teacher who sees his potential. Dr. Sweet wants him to move to Oxford, which would mean leaving Ned, Crispin's lover, behind in London.

When people, including Ned's landlord, start dying, Crispin gets involved and accidentally puts Ned in danger. A powerful warlock is called back from the dead, and Ned and Crispin have to count on each other, and on Crispin's pen magic, to save themselves and maybe even the world, i.e., the situation is all kinds of fucked up.

I was a little bored with this book until the halfway mark when the action kicked in. Crispin and Ned spend the majority of the story arguing, mostly about magic, which is important to Crispin but a nuisance to Ned. Ned, who makes his living collecting and selling paper, doesn't like magic and wishes Crispin were just an ordinary man.

The steam level is fairly low, although once the men reconcile (in a moment of danger!), there's plenty of sweetness and a strong HFN.

"They want me," Crispin said slowly. " ... They think I'd do the right thing ... "

"You're not used to people thinking that, are you?"

"No, I'm not, except for you. You've thought that since the day we met, even when I got everything wrong."

"You never got everything wrong," Ned said. "I mean, you ain't always got everything right, but that's not the same thing."

I enjoyed Rag and Bone. I just wasn't feeling the connection between Ned and Crispin like I had with Crane and Day, or Jonah and Ben. Jackdaw remain my favorite story set in this magical universe.
Profile Image for  ~Preeti~.
735 reviews
October 27, 2021
3.5 Here comes the end….Stars

So, yeah, I finished the last book in The world of Charm of Magpie universe and now I am experiencing a strange mix of feelings. I am thrilled because I enjoyed reading all 5 books and 6 novellas of it. But, I am also feeling a sense of loss, since now I am left with only one unread series, Lilywhite boys by KJ Charles. Only two books and maybe I can re-read the Sins of the City series, which I read randomly the first time. But, then what??? 😭😭😭 We hardly get 1-2 books a year by KJ Charles. I think I am going to fill the void by reading authors whose writing style is similar to KJ Charles. 

Now, enough of this melodrama(hey!!! Why do you think I am a romance reader??). Let's talk about the book. 

Rag and Bone is not standalone because we have some characters from other books of The World of Charm of Magpie but can be read as one if we read the novella, A queer trade before it. The novella tells us the story of how this unusual couple Ned and Crispin met. So, this book is the story of a waste paper collector and the magician, seven months after the events of A queer trade novella.

The story started with the usual angst that an imbalanced relationship could cause. Crispin has better social standing but he is still insecure because he has to establish himself as a magician and not a Warlock. 

But, even though Ned Hall was less educated and polished. Even though he spends his days collecting and selling waste paper, he is smart and devoted to people he cares about. And, up to 50% of the book, I hated Crispin, for being self-centred and greedy. Although he did redeem himself and I ended up liking him but certainly not more than Ned.🥰🥰🥰

The book only has 170 pages so we don't get much relationship development but I will not say I found anything lacking. KJ Charles even depicted the attitude of the general public towards a black man, gave us glimpses of the life of minorities/POC in London during the time. Her usual social commentary, which feels like part of the story. But basically, it focuses on the paranormal and I loved it. However, I enjoyed this book less than previous books in the series, even though I loved the MC, Ned. 

So,  now that I have finished the series, I have to go back to reading books/ series where I am not sure if I will end up reading them in the correct order.😩😩😩
Profile Image for Ingie.
1,358 reviews168 followers
March 21, 2016
Review written March 21, 2016

3.8 Stars - A good new KJC mystery set in a place I like and want to visit soon again

I read the short prequel #0.5 - A Queer Trade (3.7 stars) just some weeks ago and truly enjoyed as always when from K.J. Charles's remarkable pen.

The novella was a first sneak peek to this new historical para-mystery series called "Rag & Bone". Books in the impressive fabulous world of A Charm of Magpies. Just read them all. (Why? )


London more than hundred years ago..

In the A Queer Trade we got to know the magician Crispin Tredarloe. It all started when he returned to London from a Cornwall visit. Crispin's master (or 'warlock' teacher) was dead and a big bunch of important mystical spell papers had mistakenly been sold. Crispin tracked those lost papers to a waste paper dealer, Ned Hall. A dark skinned tall and strong impressive man living behind a shaggy 'Rag & Bottle Shop' in St. Giles. A poor and scrubby part of town. Soon there were true tender needy feelings and a mystery to solve.

Seven months later...
Crispin is now training for the practitioners in the Justiciary (but longing for his forbidden dangerous warlock blood-pen). Ned is doing his daily waste-paper work. The nights are lovely hot and there are sincere love. Then suddenly there are some mystic deaths and odd things happens. Ned's neighbor and another old man are dead.
‘Ned was everything Crispin wanted to be, and a fair portion of everything he wanted, right here in London.’

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‘Ned liked his soft-voiced Freckles as he was, except that it drove him to Bedlam how down on himself he was. He’d sit there saying he wasn’t good enough, and all Ned could think was, Mate, you’re the best thing I’ve ever had.

It was so very good to be in this K.J. Charles world once again. This author know how to catch me every time.

Rag and Bone is filled with thrilling suspense, mysterious magic and characters to be suspicious about. We of course see some old (dear) acquaintances. There are also sweet parts when to enjoy well told tender hot man-love. But life isn't just easy and my heart nearly broke a few times. There are some really tender touching moments. It is also kind of old, dusty and dirty, to be honest a pretty hard poorly old London (around 1890?) we visit. Spoiled and hopeless as I am I hope for a nice homely home (with kitchen and bathroom) for these men. I cross my fingers for better and less hard daily dusty work for Ned and a easier magic future for Crispin. Maybe we get it all already in the next part?

Looking forward to more adventures with these two.


I LIKE - ...places and people I know

Weekend read with Sofia (4 stars). ~ She also added this YouTube link Scarborough Fair to her review. Watch, listen and enjoy. Stunning!
Profile Image for Vanessa North.
Author 42 books514 followers
March 1, 2016
A tremendously good book by probably the best writer in M/M fiction today. It was sweet, tender, funny, scary, and at times pretty fucking gross--everything I expect from books set in the Charm of Magpies world. An absolute delight.
Profile Image for Optimist ♰King's Wench♰.
1,770 reviews3,867 followers
March 5, 2016
"Oh my days..."

This story should've been named Sweetness and Light. I feel like I tasted a rainbow after reading Nespin's story. No Skittles required!

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I even thought their fighting was cute! I found myself smiling almost the entire time. KJC does a marvelous job of showing both sides of the proverbial coin and making me like both characters equally. Her skills in fleshing out characters quickly is unparalleled so much so that I knew even when they quarreled that they loved each other to pieces even if they hadn't said it out loud, but all of the dialogue buttressed the radiance of these two.

They don't have the magic of Craphen, but they have something that's entirely, uniquely their own.

Mate, you're the best thing I've ever had.

Crispin is a graphomancer and is making an effort to develop his powers without using blood magic. This is a... battle because trouble seems drawn to these two like a moth to a flame. Strange events that involve them both and requires they work together to unravel these mysteries. Simply put, they make a good team. Crispin has the worst luck and that just messes with his head. Ned provides the balance; he's very sensible and logical, steady. What I loved the most, though, was the way they fill in each other's blanks and do it in such a seamless way. Neither comes across as flawed or lacking.

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Which is precisely what kept giving me the rainbow feels-every time one of them would start to doubt their worth or think they weren't good enough for the other those fears were allayed and their relationship strengthened. Really, it made my heart swell. They're the perfect balance of sweetness without being saccharine. And every time Ned called Crispin Freckles... And how Crispin always ends up doodling Ned... I just... Right. In. The. Feels.

Of course, the justiciars make appearances, Stephen and Mrs. Gold included, which I loved; yet this is wholly Nespin's adventure, parts of which are disgusting. That creature thing... *shudders* I could almost smell that thing. They should get an award for not hurling. I felt like hurling. One word-GROSS. The story is nicely paced and beautifully written, as always, with evocative language.

I'm not sure where the series is headed, but there was a character that made a brief appearance who Ned dubbed "Blue Eyes" that I'm still quite curious about. I feel like we've not seen the last of ole Blue Eyes. I certainly hope we've not seen the last of Nespin because everyone needs this kind of sweetness in their lives.

A man could write a thing and even if he didn't have Crispin's powers, sometimes the world changed anyway.

I think it's prudent to advise anyone considering reading this to read A Queer Trade first. There are several references to events that happened in that short that are relevant to this story.

Another entertaining, fun and just a delightful KJC read and a beguiling addition to the Charm of the Magpies universe.


An ARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Sofia.
1,180 reviews213 followers
May 14, 2016

With Ned and Crispin we just follow another thread in the Magpieverse which Ms Charles is weaving like a truly mad (as in genius madness) and capable weaver. A worthy installment.

Great compact story and great relationship building within the 'greater' story we've already read, so we see how Ned and Cripsin fit in and how they see the rest. Same world, different people, different perspectives, different words.
"Funny, really. A man could write a thing and even if he didn't have Crispin's powers, sometimes the world changed anyway."

Scarbourgh Fair

Chap 2 graphic novel

BR with Ingela
Profile Image for Alisa.
1,801 reviews182 followers
March 6, 2016
I'm at a place where I don't really know what to say in reviews of this author's books. It's just a bunch of fan girling and a bunch of "Omg...this author's books are so good". This book was no exception. Another well written, engaging, smart characterization and interesting plot.

If you haven't read the prequel/novella A Queer Tradeyou should do that first. I started this without reading it and while I could follow the plot fine I felt I was missing something between Ned and Crispin. I stopped this, went back and read the novella and came back to this. It made a huge difference in how I engaged with the couple. In this they are an established couple (but still pretty new) and their relationship is put to the test when the death of Ned's neighbor throws them into a magic related murder investigation. There is a time overlap of Flight of Magpiesand Jackdawand both Jonah and Stephen make appearances here. (This can be a stand alone if you haven't read those....but really you should cuz they're awesome.)

I don't want to say more about the plot because you need to read it and enjoy it for yourselves. Another hit out of the ballpark for this author imo.

*ARC provided by publisher through Netgalley*
Profile Image for Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*.
2,473 reviews1,085 followers
February 13, 2017

"I write the world as I want it to be. I write, and it is."

I loved K.J. Charle's Magpie trilogy and the introduction into that magic-focused Historical society. As a fan of course I'm happy she's continued in that world, despite ending the trilogy with Lucien and Stephen Day. They have remained my favorites, but it was fun to run into Ben and Jonah's tense situation in Jackdaw and now two new characters in 'Rag and Bone.'

The story touches the others since Stephen Day is in this one a decent amount, as well as some of the other major players of the magic police force like Esther. For the first part of the story they just annoy me with frustrating bureaucracy, but they save face later with a clever twist and solution. It seems sometimes people seem to be misunderstanding when they're actually getting it in the first place.

You also see a small glimpse of Jonah, and the beginning of his story/escape ends up coinciding with a major development with this book. It seems the author is setting these up right before Stephen Day departs the team permanently.

It's intriguing how each person gets their unique magical ability, and I like how Crispin's power is something that can be conceived as dark magic but is a powerful, unique force which can be used for good if he doesn't stray into Warlock territory. The solution in the end fitted that perfectly.

On the negative side, the characters just aren't as addictive. Crispin is a sweet guy but I do wish he had a stronger backbone. Sometimes I wanted to slap him and make him asset himself. Sure, Stephen had a submissive streak but if he believed in something, he'd say it. Stuttering can be an endearing trait, but Crispin seemed to weak willed to hold the book together by himself. Ned is a cool guy as well, but again just kind of there. I like them both, they just don't stand out beyond their magical abilities or potential.

It was also in the controversy of mixed race relationship, but this was touched upon heavier in the mini prequel, A Queer Trade.

It's nice to see the author continue in her unique world with fresh blood, so I'll keep reading the series if it continues, even if the originals still remain my favorites.
Profile Image for Kaje Harper.
Author 76 books2,537 followers
April 4, 2016
I love the world KJ Charles has created - the characters, the magic lightly touching a recognizable historical setting, the tensions between the dual worlds of the mundane citizens and practitioners. This one follows the short story A Queer Trade and should be read in order. (If you read The Magpie Lord series first too, you will have a much better grounding on the set-up and be properly pleased and amused when old friends make a guest appearance.)

Both main characters here are interesting and the contrast between them works well. I was pleased to see a main character of color in a historical paranormal and Ned has a lovely mix of pragmatic strength and self-confidence. Crispin was fun to watch as he tried to grapple with his unpredictable talent. The bad guy was perhaps a touch obvious, and the arguments between the MCs repeated, but the writing is excellent, and I was pulling for these two men. The story picks up plot-wise about halfway through. The ending was a strong HFN and I hope to see more of these two men finding a way forward together.
Profile Image for Ami.
5,865 reviews496 followers
February 9, 2016
Graphomancer Crispin Tredarloe and waste-man Ned Hall first appeared in a short story A Queer Trade (sold separately for $0.99 now). I am not sure whether reading that first is necessary but maybe it will give readers insights of how Crispin and Ned met for the first time. It might also makes readers understand why Ned really doesn't like magic.

Unfortunately, because I've also read that one, I was a bit annoyed with how the story dragged for the first half. Crispin and Ned argued about Crispin wanting to learn magic and Ned not trusting magic. Crispin had problem with his magic because he used to do it one way, which was the wrong way, and he struggled to do it right this time. For Crispin, magic was who he was and what he could do and it was frustrating for him, not being able to do it as he was told. While for Ned, magic was dangerous, he saw evidences of it, and he didn't trust magicians. Even if he knew that Crispin could do good with his magic.

So yes, the arguments (and sometimes Crispin's whining) were tiresome for me..

At least after half way, the story picked up quite nicely when Ned's life was in danger. However, I also thought the villain in this case was a little bit predictable. It was like he was using a huge neon sign pointing at himself with the words, "I'm up to no good!", which took out the fun of trying to figure out who was responsible for the death of few rag 'n' boners, including Ned's own neighbor.

For me, this one didn't have the same magic as the other stories in the Magpie Lord universe, even compared to Crispin and Ned's own short story. Nonetheless, I look forward to more adventures of Crispin and Ned. The offer from Stephen Day at the end of this book definitely opened possibilities for these two men.

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.
Profile Image for ♣ Irish Smurfétté ♣.
711 reviews152 followers
July 31, 2016
Well, this was loads of fun. And emotional. And sweet. And sexy hot. And we get some Stephen Day as a delish side dish.

This has many of the ingredients - magic, creepies, gore-lite, organic dialogue, etc - of the other stories in this 'verse, but they're arranged in a unique way that fit for Crispin and Ned's story. Which, by the way, is nowhere near over, both in my imagination and in real possibility, given the ending. Which, by the way, is brilliant.

Maybe I've just read several of them lately, but having each of the characters feeling insufficient in comparison to the other, and not talking about it, got a bit old for me. Not enough to roll my eyes, mind you, but it's a cousin of the miscommunication plot device and that one's a 'just no' for moi.

However, when those two blokes are Crispin and Ned, it's all worth it. ;)

They're both just starting their 'real' lives, up until now having spent most of them scraping by, literally and figuratively. Now they each have opportunities to take advantage of full potential. This is why their story is just beginning. ;)

There are references to events from the Magpie books, and the prequel that led to this tale. If you haven't read those, you might find some of those inclusions confusing. But seriously, beyond that, why haven't you read them?? They are brill. Go read right now. Do it. For your own sake.

Besides in the professional realm, Crispin and Ned are just starting out in the relationship darby. No matter the obstacle, they do both know there is no one else for either of them, even if they don't put voice to that fact. When they do manage to do that? It's a one-of-a-kind scene. Unique. Aaaaaaand we've just come full circle in this review.

G'on, go read. Crispin and Ned are waiting for you. Just watch out for the rusty nails and wood splinters...

Profile Image for Eugenia.
1,673 reviews256 followers
April 14, 2019

Well, KJ Charles managed to make me root for a character I found hard to like at the beginning of the story!!

Crispin is not your usual hero. He’s uncertain, doubts himself, is self-interested and holds magic above all else. Magic overrides just about everything else for him except for Ned, a plain-spoken waste man.

I highly recommend reading the prequel, A Queer Trade, before tackling this one. Not only is the short story very good, it shows us how Crispin and Ned first met, and gives the isolation Crispin feels justification.

Back to this one...at the beginning, I wasn’t sure I would like the story as well as the other books in the Magpie universe. I still wasn’t sure halfway through. But somewhere in there, the mystery and Crispin began to truly grow; Ned became a solid and powerful presence that grounded the entire book for me.

I won’t go much into detail save that there is an HFN, you do meet up with other characters in the Magpie universe since this one straddles Jackadaw and the last of the Magpie books, and that there is not a lot of sex. There is a lot of crazy magic going on and this fascinated me! Much of it seemed seeped in actual magical folklore and made me wonder how much of it was “true.”

As always, Charles’ writing is stellar and the narration was SUPERB!!! Get ready to hear a smooth, rolling Cornish accent from Crispin, and a colorful cockney from Ned.

Also lovely: Ned is black and Charles touches on the idea of racism and otherness that POC experienced in historical London (not to mention in today’s time).
Profile Image for ☾ Dαɴιyα ☽.
451 reviews72 followers
March 22, 2016

Books written by the very talented KJ Charles are the ones I look forward to reading the most these days, and each one proves Ms. Charles's place on my favorite authors list is well deserved.

It was the Charm of Magpies series that made a fan out of me, so any new story from that world is more than welcome. Crane & Stephen's books remain my favorites, and I don't see that changing in the future, but I am loving reading about all these other characters from that world.

Ned and Crispin were introduced in the story A Queer Trade in which Crispin's search for some dangerous papers led him to Ned's shop, and in which Crispin learned the awful truth about his master. I couldn't wait to see what happened next, and thanks to the kindness of Samhain and NetGalley, I was lucky enough not to have to wait a minute after finishing A Queer Trade to continue reading about Ned and his Freckles.

I have to say this about Crispin and Ned, and not just them, but all the main characters KJ Charles has written about: they were all so lovely and wonderful, and I loved reading about all of them. Ned and Crispin were especially adorable. I wouldn't have minded one bit had this book been solely about the progress of their relationship, which is something that regularly happens when I'm reading KJC's works. But that is never all her books have to offer. No, sir. They not only have characters I regret aren't real, and romance stories that give me all the best feels, they also have interesting plot lines. In the world of A Charm of Magpies, one can always count on some people with magic using it in a bad way, causing harm, and making Stephen Day's job difficult. Rag and Bone was no exception.

At the beginning of the book, things weren't going so well for poor old Crispin. Learning to use magic the right way, and not the way he'd been taught, the way he'd been doing it for so long was proving to be almost an impossible task. Not to mention most of the practitioners neither liked nor trusted him. The only good part of his day was when he saw Ned, but his troubles with magic caused problems in his relationship with Ned, too. It hurt my heart reading about their fights when it was obvious how much they cared for each other, and how highly they thought of one another. Now, those thoughts warmed my heart. As I said before, reading about them resolving the issues in their relationship would've been enough for me, but that was not all there was. Trouble was brewing. Big trouble. And Crispin & Ned found themselves right in the middle of it.

Everything that happened and Crispin's involvement in it didn't escape the attention of those in charge, which meant even more trouble for Crispin. The man couldn't catch a break. Luckily, Rag and Bone was set at the same time as Flight of Magpies, so Stephen was there to make sure Ned and Crispin got the ending they deserved.

Just like all the books in this series, Rag and Bone was on the shorter side, sadly. I could've read about these characters a lot longer. That is why the ending left me hopeful that in the future I'd get to read more about their adventures. The possibility is there, so I'll be keeping my fingers crossed.

In the end, all I can say (again) is that KJ Charles is an incredible author, and I cannot recommend her books enough. Read them, read them now!

***ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***
Profile Image for Erika .
415 reviews130 followers
March 9, 2016
3.25 stars

I was all set to fall in love with Rag and Bone, seeing as K.J. Charles is one of my absolute favorite M/M authors (and I don't even particularly like historicals... Go figure) but I ended up "just" liking it instead. Why? I don't know!

It had all the trappings of a great K.J. paranormal story:

- a slight figured protagonist with magic in his veins (Crispin)? Check!
- said protagonist is extra powerful magically but is a bit down on himself? Check!
- a physically powerful, much taller and completely charming significant other (Ned)? Check!
- a series of mysterious happenings that Crispin, and therefore Ned, are compelled to embroil themselves in? Check!

And even more enticing:

- a Black MC, which are hard to find in historical novels, let alone having them be a main character, especially a main character in an interracial relationship! Let's not forget that he's a Black main character that's not a slave in a historical interracial relationship. What??


God, I wanted to love this. So what happened?

It might be because Rag and Bone was superficially so similar to the The Magpie Lord series, but is missing all the heat and...and domination of the previous series. I know, I know, Ned and Crispin do not = Lucien and Stephen, but I guess my brain knew it but my heart of hearts wanted nothing to do with that lol.

The writing also felt a bit more clinical to me, which translated into me not being as into it as I wanted to be. I felt that even the sex scenes were more paint-by-numbers and bland, when I'm used to a full on jewel toned tapestry of delight for my senses from this author. Ah, well.

The story did start to pick up and draw me further in towards the 50-60% mark, and I'm so interested to read the next book to see how Ned . Very intriguing!
Profile Image for Mir.
4,869 reviews5,034 followers
December 20, 2018
I'm not sure if it wasn't supposed to be a mystery or if I just read too many of these, but I knew right away who was Behind It All. Other than that, this was excellent. I love how different all Charles' couples (and characters in general) are from one another, and also that she treats poverty and class issues seriously -- not being preachy or depressing about them, just realistic in that if someone is poor or has a criminal record that those factors are going to play out in daily life and interactions with others. They don't magically go away when you fall in love, even when actual magic is involved.

Ned and Crispin were both likable! Unlike Pastern in Jackdaw, the events of which overlap timewise with this. Which isn't to say that I wasn't rooting for Ben and Jonah just as much! Because KJ Charles is a show-off great writer who can make any combination of personalities seem believable.
Profile Image for Kat.
940 reviews
Want to read
November 5, 2015
Obviously there's no beating Lord Crane, but these cover models aren't too shabby! *little hearts in eyes*
Profile Image for Bookreader87(Amanda).
997 reviews33 followers
September 24, 2019
3.25 stars for both the story and the narrator.

Where Ned and Crispin goes trouble seems to follow.

What I liked:
Ned and Crispin's relationship.
How they worked together.
Crispin's want to learn how to do magic the proper way.
Ned's encouragement and belief in Crispin.

What I didn't:
The justiciary. They all seem like a bunch of self-righteous pricks.
Crispin and Ned's whining when things weren't going right. That can be blamed on the narrator. His voice during intense moments really got on my nerves lol
Crispin's self-doubt and need to rely on his pen

Overall, an alright story.
Profile Image for Mónica BQ.
776 reviews119 followers
July 21, 2016
It seems exaggerated to give this book 5 stars, but the thing is that even with all its imperfections, the book was magnificent. Charles' writing is something else.

But first, I do have to enlist a few caveats to loving this novel. It is my belief that there's not much anyone is going to understand, and thus, enjoy of this book if you haven't previously read The Magpie Lord series. There's little to none explanation or world building done in this story because it presupposes (a lot) that you already know the intricacies of the practitioners world. The hierarchy of the justiciars and the Council is also a need-to-know thing for the reader to be able to grasp the problems the MC faces and to fully get the ending and what it might entail. And for that matter, I feel it's also necessary to read the short prequel to this story: A Queer Trade. Without it much of the MCs relationship won't make as much of a resonance with the readers as if you had gotten the beginning of their story. Here, the book starts with an already existing, steady couple and the whole romance plot probably won't feel as powerful to those who didn't get to see the love actually develop.

Aside from that, the book still isn't perfect. The villain was quite obvious, so the mystery wasn't mysterious at all. The whole "graphomancy"-is-evil-magic-so-the-practitioner-is-evil-too sounded a bit too much like Harry Potter and parseltongue, which is ridiculous, but that's what I kept thinking about while reading that reasoning within the book. I don't think Crispin got a good resolution and neither did Ned. Usually Charles is able to make me at least sympathetic to secondary characters and their choices, but I feel like Crispin got treated like shit by every single character in this book that wasn't Ned, and it started to irritate me. I hope that's corrected by the next book.

But, Charles managed to make me read an entire book during work hours in one of the busiest months of the year for me and just a few days before I leave for holiday so I have a fuckton of things to do. The ability to keep me glued to the pages is one that's getting a bit lost for me with some books. Romance (and to be honest, it's authors) has been looking more and more lackluster as of lately, so for this book to keep me that invested in it and it's resolution was like a breath of fresh air. Charles' writing is riveting and engaging and just marvellous.

PS. PoC MC in a historical romance where he isn't a slave, active POV in the book, cover appearance, story arc that's not in any way racist or demeaning or blind or wilfully ignorant... That was all magical in itself.
Profile Image for Adam.
611 reviews313 followers
March 9, 2016
Another winner by KJ Charles, and an excellent addition to the Charm of Magpies universe.

When I first came across warlock Crispin Tredarloe and waste-man Ned Hall in Charles' short A Queer Trade, I was very impressed. Not only was it a worthy extension to the Charm of Magpies series, one of my favourites, with an entertaining plot and sweet romance, but it also featured an MC of colour in a historical setting. That's a rarity in MF historical romance, let alone MM. I thought that the author wrote Ned very well, acknowledging him as a black man in Victorian London, and the experiences that go with that, yet is also a well-rounded and distinct character.

'Rag and Bone' was a great follow up to the preceding short story.

The progression of Crispin and Ned's relationship was realistic. Months after their initial meeting, the two are now in a set routine and care for each other, but the issues that they have made sense. While the MCs spent a good portion of the book arguing, it was clear that they fought because they wanted to be together but couldn't figure out how to make it work. When Crispin and Ned finally get their heads out of their asses, the pay-off was lovely.

Steam-wise, 'Rag and Bone' was fairly tame. Given the hotness factor of the two other couples in the Charm of Magpies universe, I was let down. But given the short length and entertaining plot, I could let it slide.

The mystery is as entertaining as I've come to expect from this author. It's gory and creepy, and kept me flipping to the next page. The author also expanded on the magical concepts in this world, which were interesting. Plus, we get cameos from a few favourites in the Charm of Magpies universe, which made me a very happy camper.

Overall, 'Rag and Bone' was a a very enjoyable read. It's well-written, has an engaging plot, and a lovely romance. The ending is solid, but leaves it wide open for a sequel, which I'm hoping we get soon!

Review copy provided through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Maya.
282 reviews69 followers
March 9, 2016
“Me too, mate.” Ned met Crispin’s eyes, knowing he’d understand what was being said. “Me too.”
“So much,” Crispin responded, a real smile dawning, and if they couldn’t kiss here in this stupid poncy hall, well, that was the next best thing.

What a romantic and tender love story! The ways Ned and Crispin complemented each other, how they both helped to build the insecurities of the other into self-confidence, how each of them recognized what the other needed – all of that was simply wonderful to read.

But also: plenty of scary moments because as with the other books in the Magpies Universe there’s an evil magical force on the loose and our heroes must fight it with all they have. Which may not be a lot of skill but they have each other.

And fun too because - somehow - through all the dangers they managed to find moments for laughter and jokes.

The events in Rag and Bone take place (I believe) at the same time as the events in Flight of Magpies so Stephen and Mrs. Gold make memorable (delightful for the reader and intimidating for Crispin and Ned) appearances here.

Profile Image for Chelsea.
879 reviews7 followers
March 22, 2017
I don't think it's possible for me to give a KJ Charles book anything under 4 stars. Her writing is superb and her characters are complex and loveable. That was all prevalent in this story, that being said I liked this the least out of all her other books.

I found Crispin and Ned lacked alot of steam and connection. That could come down to them already being established, but I don't think it was that... Just that. This felt more liked a mystery driven book rather than a romance driven one. Although, now I think about it, I could be feeling that because when Crispin and Ned are together they are usually fighting, they're aren't alot of scenes when they're happy with each other or together.

That's another thing that made me nervous. Crispin's attitude and insecurity got on my nerves... quite alot. I do understand his point of view, but that doesn't change the fact that he frustrated me.

Looking back some of these points may have made it a 3 star read for me, but I was glued to this book (as always with Charles) and I really do want to read more of these two! That alone makes it 4 :-D.
Profile Image for Pjm12.
1,865 reviews41 followers
February 25, 2016
I enjoy all the books I read by K J Charles. They all attempt to do something different with their main characters, and the dynamic between each pair moves away from tropes, and tries to be authentic. That's impressive, given the number of books she produces.

Ned and Crispin have been together for about 6 months. There are tensions, mainly due to Crispin's magical abilities, not surprisingly, given the terrible danger and death that happened when they first met (recounted in A Queer Trade). Ned is trying to reform, but his attempts aren't going to plan. Not until Dr Sweets arrives, and is sympathetic and helpful. Finally.

But of course, people start dying, and Ned gets involved, because Crispin IS involved, and from about halfway the tension and danger builds, and our boys have to fight together, and it's really exciting and when we finally see Stephen Day, it's wonderful.

I liked the way Ned and Crispin thought about each other. Obviously they need to do more talking, but it's not easy, given the social and historical times, but their love is true and steadfast.

Copy received with thanks from Netgalley. Due out March 1st.
Profile Image for Tess.
1,919 reviews26 followers
March 4, 2016
3.75 stars

I was so excited to read this because, well, it is KJ Charles but also because it's set in the regency period yet neither of the MCs are well-off or aristocratic and one isn't white. Have often do you see this??!

This is set in the Charm of Magpies world and I'm going to confess that this isn't always my favourite KJ Charles world because, for me at least, there's a little too much focus on the practitioners/magic stuff and not enough focus on the romance. I really felt that in this one. I also just didn't quite feel as much of an emotional connection to Ned and Crispin and their romance. Overall, though, this is a fine read just not up there with my favourite KJ Charles books.
Profile Image for Karen Wellsbury.
822 reviews38 followers
March 14, 2016
Lovely, I'm dithering between 4 and 4.5 really, and the more I think of it, the more it's 4.5.

Because something is easy to read, and not flashy sometimes you don't appreciate how well it is written , and how much accuracy there is in the London landscape, this isn't one of those times.

More here http://wp.me/p6pXMr-4D

Highly recommended
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,978 reviews1,989 followers
August 17, 2018
Real Rating: 4.4* of five

Fascinating expansion of the magic system the Charm of Magpies world operates on. More when I'm not plumb tuckered out.
Profile Image for ML.
1,199 reviews1 follower
March 12, 2023
Being a magical person sounds more like a curse than a blessing. Crispin is definitely cursed but with the help of Ned it feels less so. This book had a different vibe than the other books. More detached.

I knew who the villain was almost right away. Poor Crispin had no chance. His magical skills were what got him out of peril and Ned was there to be his conscience … in a way.
Loved them both but I definitely would not trust The Council at all.

Day is in this one briefly and where it counted. Not sure if we will get more books in this series. It would be nice to get to know Esther Gold’s twins since she’s pregnant in so many books 😳😵‍💫😵‍💫.
Profile Image for Elisabeth Lane.
407 reviews130 followers
March 9, 2016
Set in the paranormal Victorian world of KJ Charles’ Charm of Magpies series, Rag & Bone is the follow-up novel to A Queer Trade, a novella that appeared in the Charmed & Dangerous anthology last year. In A Queer Trade, we were introduced to Ned, a working class man who buys used paper in bulk and resells it for things like wrapping food, and Crispin, a magic practitioner who casts spells by writing on paper with a special pen that uses his blood. It’s not an entirely respectable form of magic and when Rag & Bone opens, Crispin is trying to relearn how to use his powers. While he and Ned are an item right from the beginning of the book, practical Ned isn’t particularly fond of magic. But he is fond of Crispin so they’re trying to work things out until a ghostly voice and spontaneous combustion threaten Ned’s paper shop.

Rag & Bone take the two heroes to a much more solid place personally and professionally than where we left them in A Queer Trade. After a series of positively fraught pairings by Charles, the less intense, but still action-packed Rag & Bone made for a nice change. While there is most certainly conflict here–the protagonists are of different social classes and races, Ned is suspicious of Crispin’s magic and Crispin is having a hard time adjusting to his new life–much of the conflict is external. Rather than setting the heroes against each other as in her recent historical series, Society of Gentlemen, Ned and Crispin spend quite a lot of the book working together to solve the mystery. And while it doesn’t always go smoothly, they manage through a combination of knowledge, street smarts and pure stubbornness.

There are also cameos by all our favorite Magpies characters, which will be fun for those who have read that series. But along with A Queer Trade, this one could stand alone. It also manages to avoid what I have recently been calling “the Avengers problem” which is “Where the hell are the most powerful characters in this world and why the hell aren’t they doing anything about this issue?” It’s a question I’ve sometimes had about Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series novellas, for instance. No, here Charles has seamlessly and brilliantly interwoven the story line of this book with the previous Charm of Magpies books so we know exactly what Stephen, Crane and Stephen’s partner Esther are up to while an evil being is killing off civilians. It’s so well done that I immediately had to reread the entire series just to enjoy how nicely they all matched up.

While Ned and Crispin didn’t leave me with quite as much doubt about their eventual, inevitable happy ending as Stephen and Crane did and they are already to some degree a couple when the book starts, the romantic arc is still quite nice. It’s more about two people learning to trust each other, discovering each others’ strengths and weaknesses and finding out how much they love each other then the manic rush of new love. Neither Ned nor Crispin are really the sorts to get carried away like that. Instead we get a quieter exploration of deepening affection leading to what looks to be a very solid relationship.

Rag & Bone is another wonderful addition to the Charm of Magpies world. With the imminent demise of Samhain, KJ’s publisher for this series, I can only hope we get to see more of these two. There’s a definite happy ending, but door has also been left open for future adventures.
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