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The DFZ, the metropolis formerly known as Detroit, is the world’s most magical city with a population of nine million and zero public safety laws. That’s a lot of mages, cybernetically enhanced chrome heads, and mythical beasties who die, get into debt, and otherwise fail to pay their rent. When they can’t pay their bills, their stuff gets sold to the highest bidder to cov The DFZ, the metropolis formerly known as Detroit, is the world’s most magical city with a population of nine million and zero public safety laws. That’s a lot of mages, cybernetically enhanced chrome heads, and mythical beasties who die, get into debt, and otherwise fail to pay their rent. When they can’t pay their bills, their stuff gets sold to the highest bidder to cover the tab. That’s when they call me. My name is Opal Yong-ae, and I’m a Cleaner: a freelance mage with an art history degree who’s employed by the DFZ to sort through the mountains of magical junk people leave behind. It’s not a pretty job, or a safe one—there’s a reason I wear bite-proof gloves—but when you’re deep in debt in a lawless city where gods are real, dragons are traffic hazards, and buildings move around on their own, you don’t get to be picky about where your money comes from. You just have to make it work, even when the only thing of value in your latest repossessed apartment is the dead body of the mage who used to live there. AUTHOR’S NOTE: 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. I hope you’ll give it a try, and thank you so much for reading!


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The DFZ, the metropolis formerly known as Detroit, is the world’s most magical city with a population of nine million and zero public safety laws. That’s a lot of mages, cybernetically enhanced chrome heads, and mythical beasties who die, get into debt, and otherwise fail to pay their rent. When they can’t pay their bills, their stuff gets sold to the highest bidder to cov The DFZ, the metropolis formerly known as Detroit, is the world’s most magical city with a population of nine million and zero public safety laws. That’s a lot of mages, cybernetically enhanced chrome heads, and mythical beasties who die, get into debt, and otherwise fail to pay their rent. When they can’t pay their bills, their stuff gets sold to the highest bidder to cover the tab. That’s when they call me. My name is Opal Yong-ae, and I’m a Cleaner: a freelance mage with an art history degree who’s employed by the DFZ to sort through the mountains of magical junk people leave behind. It’s not a pretty job, or a safe one—there’s a reason I wear bite-proof gloves—but when you’re deep in debt in a lawless city where gods are real, dragons are traffic hazards, and buildings move around on their own, you don’t get to be picky about where your money comes from. You just have to make it work, even when the only thing of value in your latest repossessed apartment is the dead body of the mage who used to live there. AUTHOR’S NOTE: 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. I hope you’ll give it a try, and thank you so much for reading!

30 review for Minimum Wage Magic

  1. 5 out of 5

    Robin (Bridge Four)

    This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart This book answers the question what if Storage Wars was mashed up with a world where ‘gods are real, dragons are traffic hazards, and buildings move around on their own’. Minimum wage magic is a spin off series set in the DFZ (Detroit Free Zone) of the Heartstriker Series. You do not have to have read the prior series to enjoy this, it is completely new and set after all the events of the HeartStriker Series. Minimum wage magic explores the This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart This book answers the question what if Storage Wars was mashed up with a world where ‘gods are real, dragons are traffic hazards, and buildings move around on their own’. Minimum wage magic is a spin off series set in the DFZ (Detroit Free Zone) of the Heartstriker Series. You do not have to have read the prior series to enjoy this, it is completely new and set after all the events of the HeartStriker Series. Minimum wage magic explores the DFZ in an entirely new way through the eyes of Opal a cleaner. She basically bids on units based on pictures hoping to clean out the stuff left behind in hopes of making some money so the housing can be turned around and rented again. The Master Key was a sacred object and a Cleaner’s only real identification. It had been made for me by the Spirit of the City, and it could open any door in the DFZ if the city believed you had a right to be there. That last bit was the tricky part. Unlike every other city in the world, the Detroit Free Zone was alive. Literally alive, with her own soul, mind, opinions, and, occasionally, off-the-books real estate deals. Opal might be a mage but she has struggled with conventional magic. Here style is a bit more slapstick, but hey it gets her by. Or at least it did until she bid on a unit that might have a bit more of a mystery tied to it when she also finds a dead body. I really enjoyed this book. There are mages, dragons, humans and some augmented humans (that’s cyborg right…I think there are cyborgs). Anyway, Opal NEEDS a lot of cash, fast, and she has stumbled onto something that might pay out huge if she can solve the mystery and find the magical treasure. “I think you’re letting your optimism run away with you again. Even if you’re right, and there is a pot of gold at the end of this wild goose chase, the DFZ is a hundred and ninety-four square miles that move around. The chance of you finding one mage’s circle in all of that is practically zero…” Good thing she has found someone who knows the underbelly of the DFZ and is willing to help her for a price that is. Nik is another cleaner who usually acts as Opal’s competition but he might just come in handy and with the deadline she is on, she’ll need more help than her virtual reality assistant. As they work together both learn an appreciation for each other and although there is no smooching in this book, that doesn’t mean in the long term that won’t happen. “Oh, honey,” Rena said, giving me a wink. “He’s got features. Not surprised you haven’t seen them, though. Nikki likes to keep his cards hidden, but I’d bet he’d show you if you asked nicely.” There are a few mentions of The Peacemaker, The Spirit of the DFZ and the Nameless Wind for those of you who have read the Heartstriker series but this is definitely a new bag of tricks and those were just bonuses for the readers of the other series. I really enjoyed the new character Opal and Nik and how each brought something to this new forged partnership. I also enjoyed the premise of the story and what Opal is trying to escape from. This was an entertaining story of trying to find the missing treasure with the clock ticking. I’m looking forward to seeing what Opal and Nik come up against next as there are more books to come in this world.

  2. 5 out of 5

    TS Chan

    I would to thank the author for giving me the opportunity to read and review an advanced reading copy of Minimum Wage Magic. Rachel Aaron has become one of my go-to authors when I need a pick-me-up. She has such an uncanny knack of writing stories that are just so effortlessly engaging, immensely enjoyable and just plain fun. Minimum Wage Magic is the start of a new series taking place in the DFZ, a huge metropolis setting first introduced in her self-published Heartstrikers series - my current f I would to thank the author for giving me the opportunity to read and review an advanced reading copy of Minimum Wage Magic. Rachel Aaron has become one of my go-to authors when I need a pick-me-up. She has such an uncanny knack of writing stories that are just so effortlessly engaging, immensely enjoyable and just plain fun. Minimum Wage Magic is the start of a new series taking place in the DFZ, a huge metropolis setting first introduced in her self-published Heartstrikers series - my current favourite urban fantasy of all-time. In Heartstrikers, the author's characterisation was possibly the best part of the storytelling. Couple that with the most interesting worldbuilding in urban fantasy that I've come across - with dragons, spirits, and all the related magic - and you will get an addictively fun ride with great characters that you either want to root for, or alternately, strangle with your bare hands. In this new book, we are introduced to Opal Yong-Ae, a young Korean woman who is a freelance mage working as a Cleaner - one who bids for contracts to clean out abandoned apartments and profit from the sale of any valuable items found within. Down on her luck with all her recent deals, Opal is running out of money and has a debt coming due very soon to a formidable and dangerous individual. When her latest apartment only availed a dead body and a potentially lucrative secret, she followed her instincts in a desperate attempt to seek out the 'hidden treasure'. Even though this is a fairly short and fast-paced book, I feel that I've known Opal quite well by the end of the story. Written in the first-person perspective, Opal's character is well-fleshed out and developed as the narrative gradually teased out her backstory. Stubborn, reckless, and determined, her personality is the sum of her unusual past. While I found Opal very likeable (she can quite funny at times), the character that I found truly compelling was a supporting one, Nikolas Kos. Ruthless but with hidden depths and sensitivity, I love characters like him who are at most times morally grey but is deep, deep underneath a pretty decent guy. His is a backstory which I am dying to find out. The worldbuilding of the DFZ post-Heartstrikers does remind me a bit of what Sanderson is doing with Scadrial post-Mistborn - and this is a compliment, mind you. Twenty years have passed since the epic and climactic event in Last Dragon Standing, the conclusion of the Heartstrikers. Instead of taking the dangerously tricky path of extending the stories of the characters in Heartstrikers, their presence in the narrative only comes in the form of references of their past deeds and current status within the DFZ, and by titles instead of names. The continuity and progression from the after-effects of Heartstrikers are executed excellently in my opinion. The manner in which human technology has continued to advance after the return of magic seem fitting and natural. It is like a futuristic science-fiction fantasy. The DFZ is also portrayed in vivid descriptions of the fascinating and chaotic vertical metropolis, from the dense slumlike Underground to the dizzyingly modern Skyways. As much as I would like to mention more about the unique aspects of the DFZ, some of these may be a bit spoilerific for those who have yet to finish Heartstrikers. In conclusion, I love what Rachel Aaron has done with this novel to expand her stories within this unique world of her creation. I have developed a trust in her ability to write engaging stories of great characters which I feel most comfortable and eager to spend time with, and this book is no exception. The self-published e-book will be released on Amazon on 9th Nov.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mihir

    Full review over at Fantasy Book Critic Overall rating = 3.5 stars OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Rachel Aaron is a special talent and it has been highly evident with all of the sixteen books she has written so far. With this book, she does something unique as she writes a sequel series for the very first time since she started writing professionally nearly a decade ago. While also making this new series more grounded within its genre and less of the eclectic genre mixes that she’s known to write. The story Full review over at Fantasy Book Critic Overall rating = 3.5 stars OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Rachel Aaron is a special talent and it has been highly evident with all of the sixteen books she has written so far. With this book, she does something unique as she writes a sequel series for the very first time since she started writing professionally nearly a decade ago. While also making this new series more grounded within its genre and less of the eclectic genre mixes that she’s known to write. The story opens up with Opal Yong-ae, a sub-contractor for the DFZ’s Habitation Management. The DFZ being the Detroit Free Zone which was created by Algonquin the spirit of the great lakes. She was brought back to life by the sudden reappearance of magic after a millennium in 2035. She razed the city of Detroit and in its place stand the DFZ, a city state that was ruled by Algonquin for the next sixty years. Things however have changed thanks to the events seen/read in the Heartstrikers books and now DFZ is its own beast wherein Peacekeeper aka the Dragon of Detroit also resides (readers of the Heartstrikers saga will know who this is). Set twenty years after the events of Last Dragon Standing, the readers are introduced a completely new DFZ wherein things are wilder and crazier than before. Opal is one of its nine million residents, a cleaner who basically buys up delinquent properties in a city wide auction and then proceeds to sell of the possessions to make a profit. This being the DFZ, things are zanier than usual and one never knows what one might unearth. Opal’s most recent acquisition has a dead body of a mage rotting in the sub-subbasement that she bought in an auction. Unable to find anything of value and needing to pay ten thousand dollars as part of her debt (within a week’s time). Things look very dire for Opal but there might be a way and it might involve getting her hands dirtier than usual. However faced with resolving her debt or losing an important part of her life, Opal will try do the impossible, but soon she finds out how much of a big quagmire she has landed in. This is a super fun entry in to the city of the DFZ and marks a return to the world of the Heartstrikers. While this is also the first time that Rachel Aaron has written a sequel. This book is a complete standalone story that doesn't require any background knowledge of the events showcased within the Heartstrikers Saga. The author purposefully set out to craft a tale that would explore the craziness of the DFZ and she does this very strikingly. Featuring a mystery of a murdered mage, and the main mystery of to whom Opal owes a debt? Minimum Wage Magic is a solid urban fantasy thriller that excited me and kept me turning the pages. The plot pace was smooth all the way as we along with Opal slowly get to know who the murdered mage was and what he was up to. I consider Rachel Aaron to be one of best storytellers alive and she doesn't disappoint with this low key (as compared to her previous works) thriller plot that is all about living in a hyper-capitalistic city wherein anything and everything is allowed. This book came with a very high set of personal expectations as it was set in the same world as the Heartstrikers and being one of Rachel Aaron's creations. Though the author wonderfully cuts these expectations by making this book a very different read than any of the Heartstriker titles and also more of a traditional urban fantasy read. The plot focus is very tightly kept on Opal and her misfortunes. Unlike all her previous books wherein the plot usually explodes to an end of the world scenario. This one stays on a personal level through out and the stakes while being raised aren't the world-shaking kind. This book also explores the DFZ and I mean really explores it. We get to see its subterranean grottoes, the newer formed religions and cultures it cultivates and also how traffic is bungled when several buildings and locations get moved magically. Plus dragons who now are welcome in the DFZ can cause several log jams and many more zany things. Previously the author had mentioned how she always wanted to give the readers a more on the ground look into the city and we get it in spades in this opening volume. Opal as a protagonist is an interesting person, in the start while we don’t know much about her except that she’s of Korean descent and in a huge debt. I really didn’t understand her motivations and was annoyed by her pertinacity as it seemed that she's just making things harder for herself unnecessarily. It’s only when the main reveal goes down, that’s when you realize her line of thinking and I for one, really enjoyed her character arc. Unlike Marci Novalli, who has a similar strange background, Opal’s persona is much different than Marci’s and maybe unconsciously I was comparing them both. Opal even while being reckless and foolishly stubborn, has reasons and once they are made clear. The readers will truly root for her as she strives to overcome Herculean odds. The best side character was Opal's AI Sibyl as she/it frequently tries to provide help, comfort & even scold Opal for her silly mistakes. There are two other characters (Peter and Nik) who are introduced within the plot and are equally intriguing. I would love if the author further explores their background in the future sequels. Peter is a priest for the Empty Wind and Nik, who is also a mercenary/cleaner and a Luddite to boot. Their interactions with Opal add to the comedic tones and also introduce some interesting romantic set up. There are a few other characters introduced but we don’t get much about them. Now onto the big question, are there any cameos or appearances from the characters we love and have read about before? I’m not saying anything but you will be surprised when they are referenced or make their appearances. This book is quite on the smaller side and comes with a solid dose of comedy as is the precedent with Rachel Aaron's writing. This book was a much different read than what I was expecting but it was one that I enjoyed reading. I hope the author explores more of the DFZ geography and showcases its unique nature. Things that didn't work for me were just a couple of things, primarily the protagonist is slightly unlikeable and does redeem herself by the end but many readers might find her a bit jarring from all the protagonists come before. Secondly this story structure and plot focus is very narrow and sometimes I wanted it to expand beyond its tight structure. Lastly I miss the characters who we have read in the Heartstrikers saga and here I was left bereft of their presence while only hearing or catching glimpses of them. CONCLUSION: Minimum Wage Magic is a lively start to a brand new series in a world that’s very familiar to her fans. The story, the plot and setting are refreshing so that newer readers will find things get excited about Rachel Aaron and older readers will jump along for the ride because they know how awesome her books are. A catchy title, a plucky protagonist and a maximum effort by the author, honestly readers can't ask for more in the urban fantasy genre.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shree143

    The most under rated author in urban fantasy genre. Her works need more recognition. Heartstrikers series is one of my favorite books in urban fantasy. DFZ series takes place in the same world as Heartstrikers. The story is kinda simple in it's essence but the narrative is awesome. Anyway it's a strong debut in the new series, hints at even more interesting things to come in the future.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lukasz

    I missed DFZ and dragons. It‘s good to have them back in my life.  In Minimum Wage Magic Aaron revisits and develops the world. We discover the city and its secrets through eyes of Opal Yong-ae - prestigious magical university graduate who works as a Cleaner. If you’ve ever watched Storage Wars, you already know what Cleaners do. They sort through all sorts of junk hoping to score a great deal. Opal used to be the best in the business. But recently, everything she touches turns into a disaster. T I missed DFZ and dragons. It‘s good to have them back in my life.  In Minimum Wage Magic Aaron revisits and develops the world. We discover the city and its secrets through eyes of Opal Yong-ae - prestigious magical university graduate who works as a Cleaner. If you’ve ever watched Storage Wars, you already know what Cleaners do. They sort through all sorts of junk hoping to score a great deal. Opal used to be the best in the business. But recently, everything she touches turns into a disaster. Things go from bad to worse when she discovers a dead mage in one of her units. The story focuses on new characters living in DFZ around forty years after the events of Last Dragon Standing. Magic and science mix. People use AI, self-driving cars and cybernetic enhancements. DFZ, a sentient, constantly changing (literally - DFZ likes to shuffle whole districts and change their physical location on the map) city is recklessly modern, although she still keeps some older buildings. Where Julius had mommy issues, Opal has daddy issues. For a reason you need to discover yourself. I assume some readers won’t like angsty and reckless Opal, but I liked her instantly. Her supporting cast doesn’t lack charisma and I would definitely like to read more about her unexpected business-partner (a true outcast living off the grid in a digitalised world). If you hope to meet Bob or Amelia as much as I hoped to, I have to disappoint you. Well-known characters (except for one) appear only as cameos/are mentioned along the way. Minimal Wage Magic stands on its own and requires no previous knowledge about the world. And it does it very well. I like the focus on small-scale events and read the book practically in one sitting. Highly recommended. ARC through Fantasy Book Critic

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Full review is here, on my blog! This book/series takes place in the same world as Rachel Aaron's Heartstrikers series (which I loved. Like... a lot.), which means I could hardly wait to get my paws upon it. It takes place about 20 years after Julius and Marci's story ended, and shows the city that came to exist because of them, but it's not at all necessary to have read the Heartstrikers series first. This one makes mention of things that are... perhaps resulting from those events, but never in Full review is here, on my blog! This book/series takes place in the same world as Rachel Aaron's Heartstrikers series (which I loved. Like... a lot.), which means I could hardly wait to get my paws upon it. It takes place about 20 years after Julius and Marci's story ended, and shows the city that came to exist because of them, but it's not at all necessary to have read the Heartstrikers series first. This one makes mention of things that are... perhaps resulting from those events, but never in a way that gives things away for either series. This is the story of Opal Yong-ae, who is a Cleaner. What this basically means is that she makes a living bidding on the right to clean out apartments whose renters have failed to pay their rent. It's sort of like storage wars, but with cybernetics and magic in the Detroit Free Zone, or DFZ, a moving, living city that has a spirit of its own. One day, Opal unlocks the apartment she recently won (read: she blew the door off of it by accidentally tripping a magical ward), and finds a dead body in it, some very well guarded papers, and hoarder levels of boxes of various magical history information. So, she's going to find out what those papers say, because anything that well guarded is very likely leading to something worth tons of money, and Opal is in quite a bit of debt and that could be tons of really helpful money. While I didn't love this one quite as much as I loved Heartstrikers, it was still a pretty fantastic read. I liked Opal as a character, and I cared what happened to her. I also really liked Sibyl, who is her 'social support AI' - an often snarky voice in her ear, more or less.  On her adventures, Opal ends up teaming up with a bit of a rival Cleaner named Nikola Kos, and he is a character with a mysterious and dangerous history, who takes Opal into places she wouldn't otherwise go. I really, really liked Nik and just the relationship between him and Opal. Teamwork makes the dream work.... most of the time. :D There were twists and turns I didn't see coming, and while I'll admit that this one took a little time to really grab me, once it did, it really grabbed me and I was making time to read whenever I could. The last half of this book I consumed all in one sitting, because I just couldn't put it down.  I can't wait to see where this one takes me. It sounds like things are bound to get more and more interesting!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maja

    While it feels so so good being back in DFZ, I kinda miss having a first row seat in the dragon drama in Keeping up with the Heartstrikers, also missed our favourite Nice Dragon™ a lot. I almost screamed at the bus when he was mentioned first time in the book. Could have been more dragons in general. But I'm not going to be petty and knock of stars because of that and hopefully the future books holds more dragons. Other than that though, I adored the book. I fell in love with Opal immediately a While it feels so so good being back in DFZ, I kinda miss having a first row seat in the dragon drama in Keeping up with the Heartstrikers, also missed our favourite Nice Dragon™ a lot. I almost screamed at the bus when he was mentioned first time in the book. Could have been more dragons in general. But I'm not going to be petty and knock of stars because of that and hopefully the future books holds more dragons. Other than that though, I adored the book. I fell in love with Opal immediately and the plot was so fun and I need book two like now.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jodie Martin

    One of the things I love about Rachel Aaron is that you can trust her. You can trust that the plot begun in the first book has a plan to finish in the final book. That the world will expand and the characters will be challenged and grow. That you won’t be left too long wondering what’s gonna happen. I got to read MWM as a proofreader and it was lovely to return to the DFZ of the Heartstriker series and see another angle. This is Aaron’s first ‘second’ series - until now she’s always jumped to a ne One of the things I love about Rachel Aaron is that you can trust her. You can trust that the plot begun in the first book has a plan to finish in the final book. That the world will expand and the characters will be challenged and grow. That you won’t be left too long wondering what’s gonna happen. I got to read MWM as a proofreader and it was lovely to return to the DFZ of the Heartstriker series and see another angle. This is Aaron’s first ‘second’ series - until now she’s always jumped to a new genre, a new world building, a new set of characters. So that’s perhaps the reason I’ve given this 4 instead of 5 ⭐️ - because I’m not swept away by a new new world, with new new magic. But she manages to find a new angle on it, still consistent with the story told but distinct. However, if the audiobook ends up with a narrator as good as Vikas Adams was for Heartstrikers, then I may bump it up, because I was reading and listening to each book multiple times and enjoying them more and more! I found myself looking for parallels not only with the Heartstrikers but also the Eli Monpress series... and then I realised I should stop that and enjoy it on its own terms. There *are* parallels though - the main character of each is rebelling in some way from family and/or expectations, and doesn’t operate the same way as everyone else. But each of their journeys is fundamentally different, and with each series Rachel’s skill in writing enhances. As I said, you can trust Rachel. So I find myself noticing small things and wondering if this is the beginning of the thread that will become so important! Or this passing observation? Or that small reference? It’s like starting a banquet and we’re only on the first course. The worst thing about reading an early copy is potentially having the longest to wait until the second book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Narilka

    Formerly known as the city of Detroit, the DFZ is a place where anything goes. It's the most magical city in the world and home to 9 million people. Sometimes when those people can't make rent, or an apartment is otherwise abandoned, the landlords make back their fees by putting the place up for auction. Cleaners then bid for the right to go through the apartment and sell whatever they can for profit. Opal Yong-ae is a Cleaner and she's hit an unlucky streak. Her next debt payment is due at the Formerly known as the city of Detroit, the DFZ is a place where anything goes. It's the most magical city in the world and home to 9 million people. Sometimes when those people can't make rent, or an apartment is otherwise abandoned, the landlords make back their fees by putting the place up for auction. Cleaners then bid for the right to go through the apartment and sell whatever they can for profit. Opal Yong-ae is a Cleaner and she's hit an unlucky streak. Her next debt payment is due at the end of the week and if this latest Cleaning job is a bust she may lose her freedom forever. Opal's latest acquisition is an apartment with a dead body in it and people hunting for whatever it was the owner was working on. Her luck doesn't seem to be improving and her deadline is looming. Minimum Wage Magic is the first in the DFZ series by Rachel Aaron. The story is set in the same world as the Heartstrikers about 20 years later. I have missed being in this world, I'm really glad that Aaron decided to write in it again. While there are a couple mentions from the first series, you can easily read this book without having read Heartstrikers as it includes enough background information for a new reader to not feel lost. I love the idea of the Cleaners. They make so much sense, cleaning up abandoned apartments the way people bid on and clear out abandoned storage units. Opal is a great character, a young Korean woman trying to make her way in the world while avoiding her overbearing family. What's not to love? She's accompanied by her AI assistant, Sybal, who is definitely her own character. The story is fast paced and the situation escalates quickly. It's a slow reveal as we learn about Opal's exact situation and background to better understand her motivations. While seeming a little irrational at first, she is a great character to root for. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip back to the DFZ. At the end of the book there's a note from the author that she's already working on book two. I can't wait!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Whether writing as Rachel Aaron or as Rachel Bach, this author knows how to tell a good story. When Aaron recently wrapped up her Heartstrikers series, I was disappointed that Julius and Marcy’s story was over. So when I saw that she created a new series set in the same world, I was all in. The DFZ (Detroit Free Zone) series takes place twenty years after the events of the last Heartstriker book. Julius, now known as The Peacemaker, makes his home in the constantly-changing magical city that once Whether writing as Rachel Aaron or as Rachel Bach, this author knows how to tell a good story. When Aaron recently wrapped up her Heartstrikers series, I was disappointed that Julius and Marcy’s story was over. So when I saw that she created a new series set in the same world, I was all in. The DFZ (Detroit Free Zone) series takes place twenty years after the events of the last Heartstriker book. Julius, now known as The Peacemaker, makes his home in the constantly-changing magical city that once was Detroit. He is mentioned in passing in this story, and while it’s helpful in understanding this world, it’s not necessary to have read the Heartstrikers books first. In this new series, Opal Yong-ae makes her living as a Cleaner, someone who bids on properties seized as a result of nonpayment and tries to make a profit on their contents. When she finds a dead body and seemingly nothing else of obvious value in her latest won bid, she desperately tries to get some payout from it as she owes money she doesn’t have to a rather scary individual. She ends up working with an unlikely ally while trying to unravel clues as to what the recently-deceased mage was trying to hide. This first book of the series delivers some of the most interesting aspects of the old series—dragons, mages (including Opal), gods and other magical entities—with a new cast that is different from but as likeable and fun as the old. I eagerly await the next book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sarah (CoolCurryBooks)

    Review pending.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karsyn

    I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! Wow, it was soooooooooooo good. I shouldn't be surprised, as I really enjoy the Eli Monpress books, they are quite enjoyable but this one was just sooo sooo sooo good. I loved almost everything about it. I loved Opal, she's strong and quirky and knows what she wants and will sacrifice everything to get it. I really liked Nik. There's more to the story there and I can't wait to find out what it is. It's gonna be something big. I hated Opal's father, but I was supposed to. I may I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! Wow, it was soooooooooooo good. I shouldn't be surprised, as I really enjoy the Eli Monpress books, they are quite enjoyable but this one was just sooo sooo sooo good. I loved almost everything about it. I loved Opal, she's strong and quirky and knows what she wants and will sacrifice everything to get it. I really liked Nik. There's more to the story there and I can't wait to find out what it is. It's gonna be something big. I hated Opal's father, but I was supposed to. I may have hated him more than most people though as I was sheltered / made to live/act/behave a certain way. I couldn't get out from that for too many years. Anyways, hated him, but other than that, loved the book, loved the city, loved the magic. Why can't there be 50 books in this series right now?! Because I'd sit here and read through every single one right now. I hate when I start, and love, a brand new series. Damn!! At least I can get some more of the world though, now I gotta check out the series set before this one and get back to Eli too and there's not enough hours in the day! Love this book. Read it!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lila

    That cover is so cute! Look at Opal's face! I just want to be her friend! And look at DFZ! Artist-god, you are once again awesome. I know it's all new cast and all that, but with the sole focus befitting the Heartstriker clan, I am just going to ask if Justin will be in it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Devyn Jayse

    Liked it (but must admit I prefer the Heartstrikers series). Book on my Kindle ended at the 80-ish% mark which made me think I had more to read but it turned out to be a bunch of samples of other books. Would read next book in the series.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lucille

    3.5/5

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I was scared to start this series since I've basically adored the other two series (Paradox and Heartstrikers) that I've read by this author and didn't want to ruin the streak. What if this didn't live up to my expections? What if it was terrible and soured me on all future books by this author? In hindsight, I needn't have worried. Case in point: this kept me up until 3 am this morning. This book occurred in the same world as the Heartstriker series and that was a plus in my book. It not only be I was scared to start this series since I've basically adored the other two series (Paradox and Heartstrikers) that I've read by this author and didn't want to ruin the streak. What if this didn't live up to my expections? What if it was terrible and soured me on all future books by this author? In hindsight, I needn't have worried. Case in point: this kept me up until 3 am this morning. This book occurred in the same world as the Heartstriker series and that was a plus in my book. It not only benefited from the interesting, complex, and fun world building of all those books, but further developed the world with new historical events and spiritual lore. I liked the cameo appearance of the Empty Wind and the introduction of the new characters, Nik and Pearl. This was a completely clean story. There was just a hint of romance, no real mentions of anyone's past, and no OP drama. The h didn't turn into a hormonal puddle when she notices the H's muscles or eyes or hair or whatever else. She was also a really decent person. She did remind me of Marcy, the h from the Heartstriker series, but that was a good thing. The H was a bit of a harder read. We didn't get to see much into his past at all, but his current life up to the point of partnering up with the h and his life moving forward held the promise of happy reading to come. Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The world building was excellent, the action well paced, and the characters a promise of future compelling reading. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys fun, fantasy reads that are clean and adorable without diminishing the suffering and misfortune of the MCs. This was just the right balance of fun and seriousness, action and introspection.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Beani D'Andrade

    Loved 'Minimum Wage Magic'! Great book! Wonderful world building! Kept my interest the whole way thru, & my only disappointment is that I have to wait awhile until book 2 of the DFZ series comes out! :)

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Linsky

    Quite enjoyable, though it ended rather abruptly.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Martin Harrington

    A great start The final book of Rachel Aaron’s Heartstrikers series wrapped up the story neatly... but it also gave a hint of fascinating things to come, so much so that I was angry Aaron wasn’t immediately working on a new series set in the DFZ. Well, about a year later, surprise! We get Minimum Wage Magic, the first in a new series set years after the Heartstrikers finale. Is it everything I hoped for? No—but it’s certainly a step in that direction. The new series picks up twenty years after the A great start The final book of Rachel Aaron’s Heartstrikers series wrapped up the story neatly... but it also gave a hint of fascinating things to come, so much so that I was angry Aaron wasn’t immediately working on a new series set in the DFZ. Well, about a year later, surprise! We get Minimum Wage Magic, the first in a new series set years after the Heartstrikers finale. Is it everything I hoped for? No—but it’s certainly a step in that direction. The new series picks up twenty years after the old one with an all-new cast, so it feels divorced from Heartstrikers despite sharing a setting. This is to ensure the series is friendly to newcomers, and it succeeds in that regard. Opal, Sybil, and the rest of our new characters are on an all-new adventure in an all-new DFZ; anything relevant to the old series, including the backstory of the setting as a whole, is explained in clumsy-but-useful exposition. Returning fans will also find a lot to love here as we dig into what it means to be a human living on the streets of the city where nothing is illegal. There’s only one major appearance from an old character, and nothing about that cameo will put off newcomers, though it will delight Heartstrikers fans. Really, I wish there was more of that sort of thing. The last series ended with the Detroit Free Zone as a living city where dragons hold summits, roads shift on a whim, and mages have to keep rogue gods from destroying the world on a daily basis. For this story, we focus mainly on the street level, encountering relatively little of what makes the DFZ such a unique setting. The story isn’t just short, it’s small. This is the only thing holding me back from a perfect score. However, seeing that this is only the first in the series, I’m certain things are only going to get bigger and better from here. Across five Heartstrikers books, Aaron delved more into the world, developed the characters, and escalated the conflict while keeping the stakes personal. This first entry in the DFZ series feels too small after that, but it also promises greater things to come. Opal and Nik already have me cheering for them, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Minimum Wage Magic is highly recommended to fans of urban fantasy, as well as fantasy in general, and anyone who loves a well-told story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Henriette

    This is a new series set in the same world as the Heartstrikers. Opal is a cleaner, who for the last five month had some horrible luck. Because of that, her finances are a shambles, and she struggles to make enough money to pay off her debts. On her latest job, she finds a corpse but also documents suggesting that the deceased, Dr. Lyle, as working on a ritual. The ingredients for this ritual would be worth at least 200,000 and the results possibly even more. Unfortunately, Dr. Lyle borrowed mon This is a new series set in the same world as the Heartstrikers. Opal is a cleaner, who for the last five month had some horrible luck. Because of that, her finances are a shambles, and she struggles to make enough money to pay off her debts. On her latest job, she finds a corpse but also documents suggesting that the deceased, Dr. Lyle, as working on a ritual. The ingredients for this ritual would be worth at least 200,000 and the results possibly even more. Unfortunately, Dr. Lyle borrowed money from some very unsavory elements and when bullets start flying Opal teams up with fellow cleaner Nik, who extorts 60% of all possible proceedings from her. For those who have read the first series, and you should because while the story is standalone, it is easier to understand the world after reading the first series. The first book was about Julius' and Marcie's problems. Over the series, the scale started to grow until battles grew to such epic proportions that entire cityscapes were affected. If you read my review for this series, you know that I'm not a fan of such overblown fights. This series feels like the first book eerily so as you start with two characters and their sidekick (switching the AI Sybil for ghost), who must solve a problem. There is even the overbearing helicopter parent, who thinks himself a good parent, but is borderline abusive. The main reason I didn't rate it as high as the first Heartstrikers' novel is the missing Heartstrikers. Without their quirkiness, you still got an attractive setting with the living DFZ, but it misses out on the humor. The two main characters barely interact with other people. If they do, those characters feature in one, two scenes max. A little more interaction with other characters and a touch more humor would significantly improve this story. I have read all of Rachel Aaron's books so far, and I liked it better than Honor but preferred Hearstrikers and Eli Monpress. The series has potential though.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nojh

    One of the few books I read rather than listened to due to the audio book coming later. Since my actual reading time is very limited compared to my audiobook time, the fact that I was willing to set aside some activities to make reading time is what earned this book five stars, at least initially. The stars are quickly backed up by excellent world building and interesting characters, which is almost par for course for this author. If the story has a weakness, it might have been it's overall plot One of the few books I read rather than listened to due to the audio book coming later. Since my actual reading time is very limited compared to my audiobook time, the fact that I was willing to set aside some activities to make reading time is what earned this book five stars, at least initially. The stars are quickly backed up by excellent world building and interesting characters, which is almost par for course for this author. If the story has a weakness, it might have been it's overall plot, which relatively to other aspects, was good but not surprising or novel. The pitch: While reading the Heartstriker series did you ever think to yourself "This is all awesome, but I wish there was a story set in the DFZ was a little more humancentric and calls back more to the world's obvious Shadowrun-like roots?" Boy do I have the beginning of a series for you. And I do mean beginning of a series. While the story is well done and self contained, it also still feels like the first in a series (which is obvious considering the book is marketed as DFZ #1). This might be a weakness for almost any other author save Rachel Aaron, who's ability to publish quality sequels at a breakneck speed is well known by now. The book itself teases a squeal early 2019, which I'm already eagerly awaiting. If your answer to the hypothetical question above was "I didn't read the heartstriker's series", then it is very much your lucky day. While you definitely could start with this book, I would recommend starting with reading Nice Dragon's Finish Last, and feel blessed that you can finish the series in one binge rather than waiting for each new book. There are some mild spoilers for that series that this one has to introduce almost immediately. If spoilers are your thing though, totally start here.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Jane

    Another fantastic Rachel Aaron book! This was so different than what I was expecting. It was a great mix of old (the DFZ in all her glory, dragons, kick-ass magic) and new (characters, places, cybernetics!). And I'm not going to spoil anything, but I loved the end! Like, the end of their adventure and also the way the book ended! I usually hate endings, so this is a big deal for me. The quirky genius writing we've come to know and love is here (why can't we all be mages so our chairs can have heat Another fantastic Rachel Aaron book! This was so different than what I was expecting. It was a great mix of old (the DFZ in all her glory, dragons, kick-ass magic) and new (characters, places, cybernetics!). And I'm not going to spoil anything, but I loved the end! Like, the end of their adventure and also the way the book ended! I usually hate endings, so this is a big deal for me. The quirky genius writing we've come to know and love is here (why can't we all be mages so our chairs can have heating spells on them?!). Along with that is the twists and turns you completely don't see coming and the tight spots you think there's absolutely no way out of, only for the MC to come out on top. I really like Opal! I feel like she's got potential to be a powerful and awesome character. Of course it's only the first book so she has to come across as pretty flawed. She definitely made this book work for me with her brilliant but crazy ideas! And who doesn't love her love of pancakes. However, Nik kind of came across as a one trick pony. He's pretty much just there to provide muscle, connections and resources. Obviously that's necessary, but every time she's in a pickle, you know he's going save the day somehow. I'd really like to see that there's more to this guy. I also kindly request Heidi, Rena and Peter as recurring characters! They definitely need more page time than they got here. It's a fun story and was definitely the quickest I've ever read one of her books. I'm not sure if it's the shortest or it just flows well? Either way, I'm hoping that means they'll be as fun for her to write and we'll get the next one really soon!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    About 3.8. I definitely enjoyed this story (Rachel Aaron/ Rachel Bach is one of my favorite authors!) , but I don't think it's only because my reading was protracted, in time-separated chunks rather than in a couple immersive sessions as I prefer, that I'm staying under a full Goodreads 4 out of 5. Opal was a bit too prone to charging forward and damaging herself, driven by her utter refusal to be back under her father's control — though it does become a bit more understandable when you find out About 3.8. I definitely enjoyed this story (Rachel Aaron/ Rachel Bach is one of my favorite authors!) , but I don't think it's only because my reading was protracted, in time-separated chunks rather than in a couple immersive sessions as I prefer, that I'm staying under a full Goodreads 4 out of 5. Opal was a bit too prone to charging forward and damaging herself, driven by her utter refusal to be back under her father's control — though it does become a bit more understandable when you find out just who her father is! She's willing to bend some ethical guidelines to do what she has to do, and the only ones "on her side" (an AI interface with more than the one agenda she ought to have, and a despised competitor turned partner (a slight spoiler, but it happens pretty early)) can't be be fully trusted not to outright break them. I don't want to make Opal sound unlikable, though, because she is a quite sympathetic character, and Nick is intriguing. The hunt for Dr. Lyle's mysterious project goes in several unexpected directions, including meeting shady associates of Nick's and seeing a part of the DFZ even more fantastical than its usual day-to-day unpredictable changeability. There was one lesser revelation in what was essentially the denouement, though, that was no surprise to me. I think I'll leave my review at this for now, hoping to get a chance to do a more-attentive reread soon, and decide whether there's anything else not-too-spoilery that I want to bring up. (I probably should have waited to start reading it until what I had going on was done with, but it was too tempting sitting there in my Kindle library, after I'd been looking forward to it for months.) One fact that I do need to make you aware of is that the story ends at 86%! It wasn't a bad stopping point, the central plot having been resolved, leaving us with a sense of what Opal would be up to next, but given the progress bar, I did expect another scene. What lay beyond, however, was just info on the author and her other books, and an excerpt from Nice Dragons Finish Last, Heartstrikers #1, the first story set in this universe. Oh, I almost neglected to say, the proofreading was clean. I didn't notice a single typo or syntax error, only one reused-too-soon distinctive metaphor ("___s all the way down").

  24. 4 out of 5

    Pygmy

    I really liked this author's Heartstriker series, though I was wary of some of the characters feeling recycled the way I felt her FFO book was. Luckily, in this book, everyone felt fresh, and it was such a fun, guilty pleasure. This is the first time I ever read a book twice in a row (as in, I re-read it right after I finished it the first time)!! This is all due to the secondary male character, Nik, who starts out as the heroine's scary rival and turns into her business partner by the end of 1. I really liked this author's Heartstriker series, though I was wary of some of the characters feeling recycled the way I felt her FFO book was. Luckily, in this book, everyone felt fresh, and it was such a fun, guilty pleasure. This is the first time I ever read a book twice in a row (as in, I re-read it right after I finished it the first time)!! This is all due to the secondary male character, Nik, who starts out as the heroine's scary rival and turns into her business partner by the end of 1.5 days (unbelievable so much could happen in such a short time frame). This first book starts to unpack our heroine Opal's motivations and what's driving her so hard for money and freedom, but I was truly captivated by the promise of so much more backstory in the characters that surround her. What happened to Nik to turn him into such a skilled super soldier, why is he so driven after earning money, what made him a "soft" a la Rurouni Kenshin? When/how did he fall so hard for Opal, and when is she going to get a clue? What's going on with Opal's father, because there's totally more to it than what Opal sees! The questions are endless, and I can't wait to find out more. I REALLY need to find out more. Augh ;__; Thank god this author writes so fast, but it won't be fast enough!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Moros

    It could have been a stronger book. This book had some flaws which the rest of the series did not and I think the first issue is that it attempts to shy away from the other series references so no characters related to Julius's world are allowed but the book moves right into the central location of the previous books. It's as if the rich description of the DMZ was reduced to a simple prop in an attempt to not be like the other books. It makes the assumption the Reader knows the DMZ so it feels ho It could have been a stronger book. This book had some flaws which the rest of the series did not and I think the first issue is that it attempts to shy away from the other series references so no characters related to Julius's world are allowed but the book moves right into the central location of the previous books. It's as if the rich description of the DMZ was reduced to a simple prop in an attempt to not be like the other books. It makes the assumption the Reader knows the DMZ so it feels hollow. I felt as if the plot could have taken place in a different part of this world and been better for it. While I loved the female protagonist and liked her struggle, Opal's supporting cast was as week as Julius's was strong. I don't remember solider boy's name and after awhile I found it very hard to read his dialogues I didn't feel they were worth reading which made it hard to like him. I also found it frustrating that I could immediately tell what the twist was with her dad within the first few pages but in the amount of pages he was in the book a lot of his character is shown with some subtle qualities I d like to see more of but unlike some of the other supporting cast I felt he was a fully rounded individual.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anita

    I love the Heartstriker/DFZ universe! Rachel Aaron is a fantastic writer with a very clever imagination. The characters are believable within the magical version of Detroit they inhabit, the plot is engaging, and the mystery conclusion is very satisfying. Loved. It. Read this under-the-radar urban fantasy author - it's worth the time. And this book is even on Kindle Unlimited! Opal is working as a cleaner in the DFZ (Detroit Free Zone), just barely getting by. A cleaner is a state-sanctioned rep I love the Heartstriker/DFZ universe! Rachel Aaron is a fantastic writer with a very clever imagination. The characters are believable within the magical version of Detroit they inhabit, the plot is engaging, and the mystery conclusion is very satisfying. Loved. It. Read this under-the-radar urban fantasy author - it's worth the time. And this book is even on Kindle Unlimited! Opal is working as a cleaner in the DFZ (Detroit Free Zone), just barely getting by. A cleaner is a state-sanctioned repo man who bids on deadbeat renter properties and claims all the worldly goods left, selling them for a profit. Only Opal's had a streak of bad luck for the last 6 months and she owes money in a week. If she doesn't pay up, she loses her independence. She wins a bid, but the renter is dead in the property, only he left behind some enticing clues that might mean a really big pay day after all. Opal teams up with her top competitor and soon finds she's the target of some bad dudes. Team Opal is racing the clock to find the pay day, and it's a hell of a ride to the finish line.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Johnny

    Book one Mistakes: This story didn't have any that I found. However the biggest flaw in the book is the story ends at 88% leaving me feeling ripped off. The rest is just a bunch of adds for other books and some of one of the author's earlier books. Plot: decent plot that I did enjoy. Characters: could be interesting except for two flaws, the female lead likes the male lead, this is a given. The male MC is supposed to be this tough as nails mercenary type character with a heart of gold. He just come Book one Mistakes: This story didn't have any that I found. However the biggest flaw in the book is the story ends at 88% leaving me feeling ripped off. The rest is just a bunch of adds for other books and some of one of the author's earlier books. Plot: decent plot that I did enjoy. Characters: could be interesting except for two flaws, the female lead likes the male lead, this is a given. The male MC is supposed to be this tough as nails mercenary type character with a heart of gold. He just comes across as a greedy jerk forcing the female MC to accept his deals because she doesn't have any other options. The fact that she likes him anyway lowers my opinion of what I thought was going to be a strong, smart, independent female lead. 5.3/10 kindle unlimited is the only way I can recommend reading this book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Llaph | No Frill | No Shill

    I wasn't sure if I would like this new series since I'd miss the old characters from the Heartstrikers, but omg I did. I really liked how the new mortal spirits now have their own niches. I was giddy about Ghost having his own "screen time" for a bit near the start of the book. I loved seeing how he has at least one priest. :) I love the idea of being a cleaner. It sounds so cool. I wasn't sure if we'd get to see a dragon in this book, but I was nicely surprised.One thing I love about her dragon' I wasn't sure if I would like this new series since I'd miss the old characters from the Heartstrikers, but omg I did. I really liked how the new mortal spirits now have their own niches. I was giddy about Ghost having his own "screen time" for a bit near the start of the book. I loved seeing how he has at least one priest. :) I love the idea of being a cleaner. It sounds so cool. I wasn't sure if we'd get to see a dragon in this book, but I was nicely surprised.One thing I love about her dragon's is how absolutely alien and non-human they can be. Her dad seems like he will be an interesting addition to the awesome she started with this series. I ador the futuristic/magic filled world. It is a nice mix of high-tech and old scool magic. This book was great and I can't wait for the next one.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lucie Ondrušková

    Rachel just doesn't disappoint. She is great at writing compelling stories that are difficult to put down, and creating characters that are easy to like and root for. I enjoyed seeing what happened with DFZ after the events of Heartstrikers - and if Heartstrikers read like urban fantasy, this book read more like cyberpunk... with dragons (aka awesome!). There was one minor thing that bugged me, that everyone was always mentioning what was legal or illegal in DFZ. We get it, it's an (almost) lawl Rachel just doesn't disappoint. She is great at writing compelling stories that are difficult to put down, and creating characters that are easy to like and root for. I enjoyed seeing what happened with DFZ after the events of Heartstrikers - and if Heartstrikers read like urban fantasy, this book read more like cyberpunk... with dragons (aka awesome!). There was one minor thing that bugged me, that everyone was always mentioning what was legal or illegal in DFZ. We get it, it's an (almost) lawless capitalistic dystopia... Doesn't mean we have to be reminded about it every other page. But like I said, that's a teeny tiny complaint and it actually makes me a bit happy the book isn't completely perfect, because otherwise I'd start to suspect Rachel Aaron isn't human but actually a dragon in disguise :D Anyway, can't wait for the next installment. I need it now!

  30. 5 out of 5

    J

    Roller coaster ride of an adventure! Excellent world building and deeply complex characters are just some of the great things about this book. The plot is fast paced and seems straight forward, but kept taking quick turns that glued me to the edge of my seat. There was good closure at the end, but more than enough loose ends to make me eager for the next in this series. I heard this might be a trilogy, but after reading this book I’m hoping for a dozen more! I’ll be checking out other series by t Roller coaster ride of an adventure! Excellent world building and deeply complex characters are just some of the great things about this book. The plot is fast paced and seems straight forward, but kept taking quick turns that glued me to the edge of my seat. There was good closure at the end, but more than enough loose ends to make me eager for the next in this series. I heard this might be a trilogy, but after reading this book I’m hoping for a dozen more! I’ll be checking out other series by this author too. Impressive resolution that left me with a good feeling, and a hunger to learn more about the people in the story and their lives.

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