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Snowspelled: Volume I of The Harwood Spellbook Kindle Edition
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Humans and elves (essentially the Sidhe) maintain an uneasy peace in Burgis’s Angland, which is also populated by fairies and trolls. Cassandra Harwood, the first young woman formally admitted to the study of magic, has recently lost her magic. She must rely on all her fierce determination and intelligence when she finds herself enmeshed in a promise to a hostile elf lord.
The relationship between Cassandra and her former fiance Wrexham is based on a typical romantic trope, but the way it plays out is influenced by the unique sociopolitical structure and mores of the alternate Britain, at once quite different and somewhat similar to the historical 19th-century England. Here, women rule the political sphere, men the magical one. With political power comes domestic power; women are the heads of their households. Yet men don’t appear to be subservient or second-class citizens, but partners. (However, it’s apparently men, or possibly both sexes, who can be socially “compromised” and forced into marriage.) It’s a refreshing change from typical Regency romances, much as I enjoy them. There’s also more diversity in Cassandra’s world than in the average Regency or Victorian romance.
As enjoyable as the romance is, however, the main focus of the novella is on Cassandra coming to terms with the loss of her magic…and, of course, on solving the mystery she promised to solve. The stakes are high, not just for Cassandra but for the future of human society.
If I have any complaint about this novella, it’s only that it isn’t long enough despite its 166 pages. I would cheerfully have stayed twice as long in Burgis’s world! Luckily for me (and other fans), Snowspelled is the first book in what promises to be a series worth reading. I can’t wait for the second.
NOTE: For those who prefer their romances “clean” or “sweet,” there are no explicit scenes in Snowspelled.
REVIEW ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED on The Bookwyrm’s Hoard blog.
In an attempt to prove that she was just as good as the male magicians, she tried a spell that was too hard for any magician to do alone. Now, she knows that doing any spell could possibly kill her. She is grieving her loss of magic and the loss of her fiance Wrexham. He is a gifted magician and she broke the engagement so as not to be a burden to him. He, however, is not willing to let her go. Nor are her brother and sister-in-law willing to let the engagement end.
Cassandra finds herself at a country weekend house party with her ex-fiance, a number of political ladies and their magician husbands during an unnatural snowstorm. The goal of the party is a ceremony to reaffirm the human's peace treaty with the elves. Unfortunately, when searching for a lost party of young ladies, Cassandra and her ex-fiance run into a troll and a scheming elf lord and Cassandra make a promise that could cost her life to keep and also break the treaty.
She has one week to find the magician who caused the unnatural snowfall or become the prisoner of the elf lord. Cassandra, who had lost her life's purpose when she lost her magic, now realizes how much she still has to live for. She and Wrexham need to find the magician and outwit an ancient elf lord.
This was an engaging story. I loved the historical setting. I loved the magic. The writing was smart. I loved the touches of humor and the romantic tension between Cassandra and Wrexham. The only thing I didn't like about the story was that, according to the author, more in this world won't be available for me to read until "sometime in 2018."