A dystopian romance which raises some troubling questions, The Third Magpie by M. S. Clements is a great read with a plot you’ll really get attached to.
Caring teacher and loving husband, Finn tolerates daily humiliation to be with Sophie, the woman he loves.
Despite the injustice, they dream of a normal life, where liberty and identity are not subverted by ever tightening restrictions.
When a powerful politician requests that Finn tutor his daughter, it seems like a change of fortune. But as Finn’s naïve optimism is crushed by manipulative abuse, it is left to Sophie to save her husband.
In New Albany, every opportunity comes at a price.
This could very much be a classic dystopian
For me, this book felt like Clements had taken aspects from all the great, classic dystopians and built a romance around these. It had a 1984 feel to it, with ‘THEO’, an always listening device in homes and the separation of the class. I really enjoyed these aspects, however it felt more like a romance during troubling times, than a dystopian.
You learn small amounts about how New Albany came to be as it is, and there’s little reference to the other zones, and I don’t even know when this book is supposedly set. It’s a moderately long book, at 525 pages, and I feel like more background information could’ve been put in. You definitely still get the dystopian feel, especially with specific treatment (think: Handmaid’s Tale) and the way the world has been split, I just would’ve liked a bit more exploration.
The beginning starts off slightly confusing with the formatting, but you soon get sucked into the character’s lives – it’s one of those “I’ll just read for 10 minutes” which turns into an hour. I read this in 3 days, and it didn’t drag at any point.
Chapters jump around a lot which, once used to, worked really well. They were split between Finn, Sophie, Finn’s past and small poems/paragraphs to set the next part. They were often short, and included lots of conversation to make it a speedy read.
Important themes are covered, such as mental health, in a delicate way, but there are moments which are a bit darker.
I really thought it was going to go a different way, and I’m glad it didn’t – Clement’s did really well to close the book off which makes sure the reader has the book on their mind and isn’t predictable.
It was emotional due to the investment in the characters, and an intense ending which I just couldn’t believe – a seriously enjoyable, ‘what just happened’ plot with its sinister twist. This could very much be a classic dystopian.
The Third Magpie, M. S. Clements, RRP £9.99 (paperback); Book Depository
Publisher: PgUp Books
Genre: Dystopian Romance