There are probably people out there who would love this book, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite right for me.
The only expectations I went in to Magic or Die with came from the summary that I read on Goodreads, and it really made it sound like it sound like the kind of story I would be into: characters with traumatic pasts and emotional depth, high stakes involving the commodification and trafficking of magically gifted people, and a queer romance subplot. All things that I love and look for in my stories. However, Magic or Die didn’t really deliver on much of that. The seriousness and the drama of the situation were watered down by a strange mess of world-building that didn’t really make sense, hackneyed villains (at one point there was a non-ironic use of the word henchmen), and a very awkward romance between the main character and one of his students.