SNOWSPELLED (The Harwood Spellbook #1) by STEPHANIE BURGIS
Ebook, 157 pages, Five Fathoms Press.
Pre-order Snowspelled on Amazon – released September 4th 2017.
Please be aware this review contains mild spoilers!
A new Stephanie Burgis novel (or novella, in this case) is always a delightful and much-anticipated event round here. Already established as an MG author (The Kat Stephenson Trilogy) she has branched out into more adult fare in recent years (see my review of Masks and Shadows here). Snowspelled, the opener to a new projected series of novellas sits comfortably between the two.
Snowspelled takes place in what I interpreted as an alternative 18th or 19th Century England (or Angland), one where Boudicca and her magic-using husband combined their powers to drive out the Romans. Since that time, politics has been the domain of the women of Angland, and magic the domain of men, until Cassandra Harwood determines to enter the Great Library and become a magic user. But something has gone wrong, leaving Harwood, devastated, without magic and estranged from her former fiance, the charming and slightly infuriating Wrexham. And that’s where the story opens, with Harwood and her sister-in-law Amy travelling the dangerous troll roads to a sophisticated house party while an unnatural snowstorm closes in around them.
***** MILD SPOILERS BELOW *****
One of the most fun aspects of this novel is the way Stephanie Burgis plays around with a world of very strictly defined gender roles by flipping them. In one notable scene the men must remain at the dining table while the women go off for brandy and cigars, in another poor lovely Wrexham finds himself hopelessly compromised (the sort of situation that leads to Scandal and Hurried Weddings). The relationship between Harwood and her brother Jonathan is an interesting one – his lack of magical ability is revealed to be holding back his wife Amy’s career. In the eyes of this world, the siblings have been gifted the talents of the wrong sex, and must do what they can with their opposing skills.
*****SPOILER ENDS *****
You’ll have to read it to see if Wrexham can will back the impetuous Harwood, if she can prove herself even without magic, free herself from the machinations of an Elvish spell and forge a path for other women to follow. In the end, it’s a story about family and loyalty in the face of an ancient adversity, and I look forward to seeing what Cassandra Harwood does next.
I recieved a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.