There are a lot of tropes in urban fantasy, but magical heists don’t seem to be one of them. That’s why it’s so refreshing to read the third installment of the Cris & Clare Meyers’s Criminal Elements series, Shifting Identities.
This time around, the story is told from the perspective of Carlos and Grace. Together with Rook, Renee and Stone, the group must travel overseas and execute their most dangerous heist yet. The story has a lot going on, both “on-screen” and behind the scenes. It definitely isn’t spoon-fed to you, which I really appreciated as the reader.
Let’s break down what I liked, what I didn’t like, and my final thoughts on Shifting Identities.
As with the other books in the series, Shifting Identities uses familiar characters but changes the perspective through which the story is told. This story is told through the perspectives of Carlos and Grace, who have easily become my favourite characters in the series. Both are relatable and likeable, and we see substantial growth in both of them.
We also see a lot more of the magical side of the world that the authors have created. Beyond fancy new spells, we get thrown right into the politics of the magical world and learn more about how magic works. The magical traps that we see during the heist might be one of my favourite parts of the whole series.
Lastly, the second half of the book reads so well that I struggled to put it down (much to the detriment of my sleep). Once the action picks up, it reads extremely easily and engages you like few other books do.
As I mentioned above, there is a lot going on in this book. And, while I value it not being spoon-fed, it is frustrating as a reader to not understand why anything is happening for the first half of the book. We feel like Carlos and Grace, who are completely left out of the loop.
The authors are doing a great job of building a magical world, but sometimes it feels like there are too many nuances, too many things to remember, for a casual reader. If I were to go back and read all three books sequentially to really maximize the impact of Cris and Clare’s writing.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the Criminal Elements series, and I’m not trying to hide that. Shifting Identities is by far my favourite entry into the series yet, and leaves me eagerly waiting for the next one.
The combination of magical fights, heists and lore leave me in awe of the world that the authors are creating. This is a must-read for anyone who enjoys urban fantasy or heist stories.
I give Shifting Identities 5/5 stars.