The Conductors: Murder & Magic #1 by Nicole Glover
Reviewed by Laura Fliegel
Historical murder mystery
The Conductors is a fantasy murder mystery set in post-Civil War America and also has wonderful elements of chosen family and community, plus a sweet romance between Hetty and Benjy (whose marriage is one of friendship, not romance). From the moment I heard about this book, I was intrigued, and in no way did it disappoint! Hetty is amazing and fierce and a very good example of competence porn. She’s very skilled with magic, and also at making clothes. She’s also known to meld the two together and show sigils into the clothes she makes. I love her brashness and how she stands for what she believes in. But sometimes that also gets her into trouble, especially as a Black woman who used to be a Conductor on the Underground Railroad. Her husband, Benjy, is also an amazingly competent individual and he does so many little things for Hetty to show his care, though sometimes she’s oblivious to the significance of his actions. He followed her to lead people from slavery because he was “bored” and together they balance each other and strengthen their skills in a way that ensured they were more often than not successful on their trips. Since the Civil War, they’re known to help people with unusual incidents--like finding a body in an alleyway with a cursed sigil carved in his chest. All of the side characters feel fleshed out and the mystery was wonderfully layered. The clues were there, but at least for me I felt like I was along for the ride with Hetty rather than figuring everything out on my own. I really enjoyed this story, and I’m looking forward to the continuation of this series. I loved the chosen family and community especially because it shows friendships growing from common pasts and how everyone in their community will help and when they can. I definitely recommend this book if you enjoy slower paced mysteries, especially with a unique magic system.
Published by Houghton Milflin Harcourt, March 2, 2021