Snowspelled (The Harwood Spellbook, #1)
In nineteenth-century Angland, magic is reserved for gentlemen while ladies attend to the more practical business of politics. But Cassandra Harwood has never followed the rules...Four months ago, Cassandra Harwood was the first woman magician in Angland, and she was betrothed to the brilliant, intense love of her life.Now Cassandra is trapped in a snowbound house party deep in the elven dales, surrounded by bickering gentleman magicians, manipulative lady politicians, her own interfering family members, and, worst of all, her infuriatingly stubborn ex-fiancé, who refuses to understand that she’s given him up for his own good.But the greatest danger of all lies outside the manor in the falling snow, where a powerful and malevolent elf-lord lurks...and Cassandra lost all of her own magic four months ago.To save herself, Cassandra will have to discover exactly what inner powers she still possesses – and risk everything to win a new kind of happiness.A witty and sparkling romantic fantasy novella that opens a brand-new series for adults from the author of Kat, Incorrigible, Masks and Shadows and Congress of Secrets.Volume I of The Harwood Spellbook

Snowspelled (The Harwood Spellbook, #1) Details

TitleSnowspelled (The Harwood Spellbook, #1)
Author
ReleaseSep 4th, 2017
PublisherFive Fathoms Press
Rating
GenreFantasy, Novella, Romance, Historical, Historical Fiction

Snowspelled (The Harwood Spellbook, #1) Review

  • Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars. On sale today, Sept. 4, 2017! Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:Snowspelled, the first book in the new HARWOOD SPELLBOOK fantasy series by Stephanie Burgis, is a fun, light read, right at the intersection of magical fantasy and Regency romance, with a twist of alternative history. We are in Angland, not England, and there’s a time-honored treaty between humans and elves, with the humans paying a toll to live on elven lands. Cassandra Harwood, her brother Jonathan, and s 3.5 stars. On sale today, Sept. 4, 2017! Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:Snowspelled, the first book in the new HARWOOD SPELLBOOK fantasy series by Stephanie Burgis, is a fun, light read, right at the intersection of magical fantasy and Regency romance, with a twist of alternative history. We are in Angland, not England, and there’s a time-honored treaty between humans and elves, with the humans paying a toll to live on elven lands. Cassandra Harwood, her brother Jonathan, and sister-in-law Amy travel to a week-long house party at Cosgrove Manor, deep in elven lands, an area guarded by trolls who allow you to pass only if you have paid the necessary tax and have an official, glowing stamp on your carriage.Cassandra is a brilliant, dedicated magician. Though still held back by the gentleman’s network of male magicians, she has become the first officially recognized woman magician in the country. Or at least she was, until a powerful magical spell she tried to cast four months ago went badly awry. Now casting even the simplest spell would kill her.To avoid hampering her former fiancé Wrexham, another superb magician, in his career, she cut him loose two months ago … but he seems to be reluctant to disappear from her life. Which might in fact be a good thing, given that Cassandra has inadvertently run afoul of a malicious elf lord while at the Cosgrove house party, where an unnatural snowstorm has trapped the entire group and upset the local troll population. Now Cassandra has one week to figure out which magician at the party has meddled with the weather and caused the unnaturally strong snowstorm, or she’ll be in the elf lord’s power. Can she do it without her magic?Snowspelled will appeal to readers who like light Regency-inspired fantasies like Sorcery & Cecelia: or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot. This one’s got a little more adult content (read: a non-explicit bedroom scene) and some amusing twists on traditional Regency society rules. Almost invariably, the magicians are gentleman, while the ladies control politics. After dinner, the women all go off to discuss politics while the men remain at the table until they are notified that the ladies are ready for the men to join them. These gender-based roles are traditional rather than innate, though, and Cassandra and others are trying to soften their rigidity:Not every man could do spellwork, of course, even in our elite cohort, just as I couldn’t possibly have been the first woman to be born with that natural ability. I was only the first to be bold enough, brash enough and ― most of all ―lucky enough, in our modern era, to finally break free of the roles we’d all been assigned centuries earlier, and win a public space for myself that others might follow.Another interesting twist in this alternative Regency England is that race and sexuality are non-issues: Rajaram Wrexham is part Maratha (this world’s India); Cassandra’s sister-in-law Amy has dark brown skin, but it’s the fact that she’s married to a non-magician, Cassandra’s brother Jonathan, that holds Amy back politically, not the color of her skin. Cassandra helps a lesbian couple with some magical questions without blinking an eye. There are other strict societal rules, however, that take the place of these, and some traditional ideas (like being compromised and obligated to marry if a couple is caught in the act of kissing) remain the same.The characters in Snowspelled aren’t particularly multifaceted, and the plot is light rather than deep or complex. For readers of historical romances, the relationship between Cassandra and Wrexham follows a timeworn path, and the hindrances to the romance are an overfamiliar mix of the self-sacrifice trope and the misunderstanding trope, resolved with eyebrow-raising speed once the couple finally gets around to really communicating. But their yearning looks across the room do allow for some amusing commentary by observers:“We should sell tickets,” my brother told me. “It’s like watching an opera, but far better because there’s so much less tuneless shrieking involved. No, it’s all wordless emoting and high drama with you two and ― ow!”Snowspelled is a pleasant and quick read, and Cassandra has some intriguing plans for the future at the end of this story. I’m interested to see where THE HARWOOD SPELLBOOK series goes next.I received a free copy of this book from the author for review. Thanks!
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    ***ETA: And it's out today as an ebook AND a paperback. Hooray!!!This novella was my escape-/just-for-fun/comfort-writing project after the stress of last year's election, and I hope that it'll be a fun, comforting escape for readers as well. It's also the first in a brand new series! I'd describe these novellas as the equivalent of my Kat books but aimed squarely at adults, so: frothy, magical, fun and DEEPLY romantic. If you liked Courting Magic, you'll definitely like these!ETA: And you can r ***ETA: And it's out today as an ebook AND a paperback. Hooray!!!This novella was my escape-/just-for-fun/comfort-writing project after the stress of last year's election, and I hope that it'll be a fun, comforting escape for readers as well. It's also the first in a brand new series! I'd describe these novellas as the equivalent of my Kat books but aimed squarely at adults, so: frothy, magical, fun and DEEPLY romantic. If you liked Courting Magic, you'll definitely like these!ETA: And you can read Chapter One online already! https://www.stephanieburgis.com/books...And another ETA: You can now read an excerpt from later in the book (a supper party that includes romantic tension, ruthless family teasing, and the worst weather wizard ever!) at USA Today's Happy Ever After blog: http://happyeverafter.usatoday.com/20...You can buy the ebook edition AND get the paperback fromAmazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073QWQF1X/...Barnes & Noble (ebook only): https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/snow...Amazon.co.uk (ebook and paperback): https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B073QWQF1...Waterstones (paperback only): https://www.waterstones.com/book/snow... (I do NOT know why they're listing it for a higher price than I've set for the UK edition - I'm really sorry about that, guys, and I hope it will fix itself SOON! But I love and support Waterstones as a bookstore, so I couldn't possibly leave it off this list.)Kobo (ebook only): https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/snow...and Smashwords (ebook only): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view...I am so happy to finally be able to share this with you guys! I love this family and these characters.
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  • All Things Urban Fantasy
    January 1, 1970
    Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.My only complaint about SNOWSPELLED is that it is too short! Leaving me desperate for the next book in the The Harwood Spellbook series, SNOWSPELLED is an adorable romantic novella with a bit of a mystery. It's exactly what I would have expected from the author of KAT, INCORRIGIBLE.SNOWSPELLED starts right in the middle of a conversation between two of the main characters and immediately sucks you in. Cassandra is intriguing and her sister-in-law Amy i Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.My only complaint about SNOWSPELLED is that it is too short! Leaving me desperate for the next book in the The Harwood Spellbook series, SNOWSPELLED is an adorable romantic novella with a bit of a mystery. It's exactly what I would have expected from the author of KAT, INCORRIGIBLE.SNOWSPELLED starts right in the middle of a conversation between two of the main characters and immediately sucks you in. Cassandra is intriguing and her sister-in-law Amy is stubborn and mischievous. Not only are those two delightful to read and learn about, but I love the relationships throughout the novella, shown in short scenes but managing to feel very natural, as if the reader knows the history of the characters.The world building was excellently done, as aspects of the world were explained as they came up. Most of the major questions I had were deftly answered, though there are some aspects I am definitely curious about. I think that mostly comes from the length of the story, and the fact that it is a novella - not everything can be dealt with in this first installment. It's definitely a fascinating world, though, with a matriarchal society with magic and elves!All in all, I wholeheartedly recommend SNOWSPELLED if you like historical fantasy, romance or are even just looking for something a little different to read. I can't wait for THORNBOUND, the next book in the series!Sexual content: Kissing, implied sex.
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  • Aliette
    January 1, 1970
    A tensely romantic adventure in an English manor in the midst of a snowstorm. Manners, magic and an irresistible ex-fiancé--a fun and fluffy comfort read to be gulped down in one go. I really enjoyed reading this one.
  • Alyisha
    January 1, 1970
    "Snowspelled" is an adult historical fiction/fantasy novella by Stephanie Burgis, featuring corsets, protection spells, and lumbering trolls, set in 19th century Angland. In Burgis' world, women are politicians & men, magicians. Cassandra Harwood is a rebel-magician who's recently lost her magic & her fiancé; after an impetuous bargain is mistakenly made, it's up to her to save her society from Elven destruction. The gender flips are fun (e.g. men can be "hopelessly compromised"). Becaus "Snowspelled" is an adult historical fiction/fantasy novella by Stephanie Burgis, featuring corsets, protection spells, and lumbering trolls, set in 19th century Angland. In Burgis' world, women are politicians & men, magicians. Cassandra Harwood is a rebel-magician who's recently lost her magic & her fiancé; after an impetuous bargain is mistakenly made, it's up to her to save her society from Elven destruction. The gender flips are fun (e.g. men can be "hopelessly compromised"). Because it's historical fiction, the imbalance is acceptable, understandable, & kind-of silly (instead of grating, as it can be in modern times; this isn't a case of substituting one form of gender inequality for another. It's very tongue-in-cheek). Burgis deftly captures big emotions in a small amount of pages. CHOICE is a big deal, along with openness, honesty, ambition, love, and family. I'm always thrilled with her inclination to put "non-traditional" relationships in a very traditional setting & time period. It's so much fun & it warms my progressive heart. "Snowspelled" is a quick story (too quick!) with lots of heart. I only wish it had been longer!Note: I received an e-ARC (upon request) from the author.
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  • Mara
    January 1, 1970
    3 1/2A novella with an interesting reverse gender fantasy world (no, it's not attractive the other way round either). At 4 $ I honestly found it expensive. But I can't deny she's good at them.Here's a good review:www.goodreads.com/review/show/2053522541I'm keen to read a novel in this world.
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  • katayoun Masoodi
    January 1, 1970
    a very engaging and exciting short story. Interesting world and how the magic and the politcs worked, looking forward to reading the other adventures. The people all were very nice and like able, though they were a lot like the kat stories, not very complex sides to the characters and the heroes and the villains being quite defined as heroes and villains.
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  • Deva Fagan
    January 1, 1970
    This novella is a delight! Witty and charming and clever and romantic, filled with awesome characters who defy tropes. I especially loved Cassandra, the main character, and the tragedy of her love of magic, how hard she fought for it, and the choice that took it away from her. This story wraps up in an entirely satisfying way, but I hope I will be able to read more about these characters in the future!
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  • Veronica
    January 1, 1970
    This was a cute little novella dealing with magic and elves in a regency era-ish, fictional place called Angland. Cassandra Harwood, facing the loss of her magic, and Wrexham, the former fiancé she's trying not to compromise (despite how much he wants her to), make for a charming lead pair. The meat of the story is lacking in substance and the mystery is...well, it just isn't, but it was entertaining in its own light-hearted, fluffy way. I'd read more.
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  • ☕ Kimberly
    January 1, 1970
    Caffeinated Aspects: I loved the world Burgis created. The story has a historical setting with castles, carriages and social ladders. Angland is the total opposite of what one comes to expect from dystopian settings. Here men practice magic and the country of Angland is ruled by women. Supernatural creatures are out and about from Trolls who demand tolls to fairies. The door has been left open to explore this world and I find I am quite curious. Our heroine Cassandra Harwood is the first women Caffeinated Aspects: I loved the world Burgis created. The story has a historical setting with castles, carriages and social ladders. Angland is the total opposite of what one comes to expect from dystopian settings. Here men practice magic and the country of Angland is ruled by women. Supernatural creatures are out and about from Trolls who demand tolls to fairies. The door has been left open to explore this world and I find I am quite curious. Our heroine Cassandra Harwood is the first women to attend magical college and not practice politics.  In the beginning, we learn she can no longer practice magic and that she broke up with her fiance after an incident. I liked Cassandra, she is headstrong, quick thinking and progressive. The main conflict for this story occurs early in when Hardwood and her ex-fiance are out looking for missing guests. Cassandra makes a promise to an Elven Lord. She is granted one week to give him the answer he seeks or the treaty between the Elves and the humans will be broken. I loved this aspect of the story as it showcased Cassandra's skills and fleshed out the world. Secondary characters from siblings to supernatural creatures added interest. The dynamics between Cassandra, her brother, and his wife left me eager to learn more. The teasing about Wexham, her ex-fiance offered delightful moments that made me laugh. The ending has me very excited for the next book. Fans of Harry Potter will delight in the concept. Decaffeinated Aspects: The past events left me very curious and I would have liked greater detail. I understand what happened but felt cheated out of the story. There is a romantic thread but their romance happened prior to this story and ended four months ago. So we get a rekindling, second chance story and here again I wanted the full story. Because this was a novella it forced some tell don't show moments. However, the story was engaging and Burgis teased me with enough of the world and characters that I am looking forward to the release of Thordbond in 2018. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer
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  • Joanne Hall
    January 1, 1970
    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 o 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.(view spoiler)[***** 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 *****(hide spoiler)]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.
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  • J.
    January 1, 1970
    I finished this story last night, and I'm already impatient for the next one! Often writers set things in this time period but fail to capture the light voice that's one of the things I like best about it. Burgis does a great job of that, keeping the story moving quickly, and drawing the reader along with her. The romance aspect was well paced and believable. All in all, a great start to this series. (Disclosure: I was given an ARC by the author.)
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  • Kristen
    January 1, 1970
    Snowspelled is delightful, lighthearted romantic fantasy set in an alternate version of England in which Boudicca's rebellion against the Romans succeeded, leading to a tradition of matriarchal rule. While only women handle politics, magic is considered the domain of men. However, Cassandra Harwood has always dreamed of being a magician and becomes the first woman to enter this male-dominated sphere--until an incident leaves her unable to cast the simplest spell without risking her life.This nov Snowspelled is delightful, lighthearted romantic fantasy set in an alternate version of England in which Boudicca's rebellion against the Romans succeeded, leading to a tradition of matriarchal rule. While only women handle politics, magic is considered the domain of men. However, Cassandra Harwood has always dreamed of being a magician and becomes the first woman to enter this male-dominated sphere--until an incident leaves her unable to cast the simplest spell without risking her life.This novella picks up four months after this occurred and follows Cassandra as she contends with her loss, a devious elf-lord, and the ex-fiance she believed to be better off without her. Though Cassandra's devastation is palpable, it still remains a fairly light, optimistic novel since a lot of the focus is on moving forward and societal progression (and this is further enhanced by fun dialogue and a great romance!). It's a little too straightforward and predictable to be a book that sticks with me despite admiring the author's ability (thus the 3 1/2 star rating), but I still found it very enjoyable: the perfect match when in the mood for a fairly short, diverting, engaging tale.Full Review on My Website
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    This is a deeply satisfying story set in a magical snowstorm feat. family, treachery, romance, and trolls!
  • Rene Sears
    January 1, 1970
    I am so excited about this series opener! The worldbuilding is really interesting--women in Angland attend to politics while magic is reserved for men. Cassandra Harwood wasn't going to let convention stop her from pursuing her dream of becoming a female wizard, but in doing so, she cast a spell never to be attempted by one wizard alone and lost her magic. Four months later, right before the solstice renewal of the treaty between elves and humans, her sister-in-law talks her into attending a hou I am so excited about this series opener! The worldbuilding is really interesting--women in Angland attend to politics while magic is reserved for men. Cassandra Harwood wasn't going to let convention stop her from pursuing her dream of becoming a female wizard, but in doing so, she cast a spell never to be attempted by one wizard alone and lost her magic. Four months later, right before the solstice renewal of the treaty between elves and humans, her sister-in-law talks her into attending a house party, but as the weather worsens, the entire party is snowed in--including her former fiance. When Cassandra encounters an elf lord in the forest, he charges her with finding the magical reason for the weather, with the price of failure being submitting herself to him for whatever nefarious purpose he might have. Her ex-fiance is her only ally as she strives to solve the problem while hiding it from her brother and his pregnant wife. This story is a delight. Full of love both romantic and familial, wonderful side characters, some of them also striving against the constraints of their society, and some weighty issues leavened with a considerable amount of humor. (Cassandra's dinner party interview with one of the weather mages provided many laugh out loud moments!) I enjoyed Snowspelled immensely, and I'm hoping that the Harwood Spellbook will have many chapters.
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  • Rosalyn Eves
    January 1, 1970
    I loved Stephanie Burgis's Kat, Incorrigible books, and her previous Kat novella. So it's no surprise that I loved this one as well. Cassandra Harwood is in the midst of putting her life back together--after becoming one of the first female wizards and then losing her magic (and her fiance) in very public fashion only four months earlier--when she reluctantly accepts an invitation to a winter solstice party. But the party proves more than just socially difficult (the worst she'd expected was hav I loved Stephanie Burgis's Kat, Incorrigible books, and her previous Kat novella. So it's no surprise that I loved this one as well. Cassandra Harwood is in the midst of putting her life back together--after becoming one of the first female wizards and then losing her magic (and her fiance) in very public fashion only four months earlier--when she reluctantly accepts an invitation to a winter solstice party. But the party proves more than just socially difficult (the worst she'd expected was having to avoid her old fiance) when Cassandra encounters an old and wily elf-lord. Now Cassandra has to rely on all her wits (and no magic) to defeat the elf-lord before disaster strikes.The story was sweet, funny, clever, and romantic by turns and a pleasurable escape.
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  • Mieneke
    January 1, 1970
    When I was sixteen I fell deeply and utterly in love with the writing of Jane Austen. I started with Pride and Prejudice — this was the year the famous BBC adaptation starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth first aired. Naturally, this was a complete coincidence — and made my way steadily through all of her published writing. I must have read Pride and Prejudice a dozen times and watched that series about half a dozen times. And to this day, I have a weak spot for anything resembling that world a When I was sixteen I fell deeply and utterly in love with the writing of Jane Austen. I started with Pride and Prejudice — this was the year the famous BBC adaptation starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth first aired. Naturally, this was a complete coincidence — and made my way steadily through all of her published writing. I must have read Pride and Prejudice a dozen times and watched that series about half a dozen times. And to this day, I have a weak spot for anything resembling that world and her snark. Fast forward 22 years and here we are in the present where I fell in a similar kind of love with Stephanie Burgis’ latest novella Snowspelled, the first in The Harwood Spellbook.Of course Snowspelled isn’t a Jane Austen novel, but it could have been, if Austen had written more about class issues outside the gentry, included racially diverse main characters, oh and had magic. I absolutely loved the story, being easily captivated by its heroine, Cassandra Harwood. Cassandra is everything you want in a Regency-esque heroine: snarky, bold, boundary-breaking, caring, and clever. Often the heroine is the only character of this kind in a novel, but in Snowspelled we are provided with many more. Cassandra also reminded me of another Burgis’ heroine I adore, the titular Kat in the Kat, Incorrigible series.Yet Cassandra is a more grown-up version and she has different challenges to overcome. After a magical accident, Cassandra can no longer safely use her magical powers. And learning how to cope with these new restrictions on what she can safely do, is terribly hard for her. In a sense this is an interesting parallel to learning to live with a chronic injury or disease. Developing coping mechanisms, accepting her new situation, and to redefine her expectations for her future is something we see Cassandra struggle with during the novella. She also has to learn not to feel lesser than she was and thus set herself aside, as she does in breaking her engagement to Wrexham. Burgis portrayed these elements beautifully and it was wonderful to see this represented in a novella.The romance between Cassandra and Wrexham was delightful, especially since the question is never whether they still love each other. No, the tension here is if Cassandra will let herself be loved by Wrexham and not consider herself a burden to him if she marries him. Cassandra has a gorgeous example of a strong and supportive relationship in the form of the marriage of her brother Jonathan and his wife Amy, their late mother’s political protégée. I really adored the playful teasing between these two, the clear affection they shared, and the way they stand with and care for the other when needed.There aren’t just heteronormative relationships though, even if the societal structure of Angland very much re-enforces such relationships. I really loved how Burgis included a same-sex couple and showed how they worked together to subvert society to make a place for themselves. Beyond the romantic relationships, there are the familial bonds and the bonds of friendship between the Harwoods and between many of the women, most notably Amy and Cassandra. I really liked their genuine affection for and loyalty to each other.Snowspelled also contains plenty of politics, which is always a boon in my book. The structure of Angland society, with the women being the politicians and the men being the magicians, was an interesting one, especially as it creates a clear binary and has any number of consequences, not least being clearly heteronormative and dismissive of whether one’s nature is suited to the expected path, such as Cassandra’s brother Jonathan, who is no magician, yet is a passionate historian. And of course, Cassandra herself busts societal boundaries by getting into the Great Library to become a magician. And even after her accident, she decides to keep busting these boundaries some more. The political machinations between the Fae and the humans were also delicious. I love how Cassandra outwitted the evil elf-lord Ilhmere, by using her wits and a quick tongue. The intricacy of the treaties between the Fae and humanity was great and I’d love to learn more about their history in future instalments in the Spellbook.Snowspelled is a delightful start to what looks to be a fantastic series. I cannot wait to return to Angland next year in the next novella in the series and to spend more time with the Harwoods and Wrexham. Burgis is a wonderful author, whose books always leave me with a smile. I cannot recommend her writing highly enough. If you’ve never read a Stephanie Burgis book before, Snowspelled is a great one to start with because it combines the feel of both her writing for adults and for a younger audience in one book.This book was provided for review by the author.
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  • Maddalena
    January 1, 1970
    I received this novella from the author, in exchange for an honest review.The two novels penned by Stephanie Burgis that I previously read – Masks and Shadows and Congress of Secrets – were both delightful finds, creating a very successful mix between historical events and magic-driven fantasy: not only were they enjoyable books, but they compelled me to search for more information on the history of the times chosen as background, so that I was able to learn details that were previously unknown I received this novella from the author, in exchange for an honest review.The two novels penned by Stephanie Burgis that I previously read – Masks and Shadows and Congress of Secrets – were both delightful finds, creating a very successful mix between historical events and magic-driven fantasy: not only were they enjoyable books, but they compelled me to search for more information on the history of the times chosen as background, so that I was able to learn details that were previously unknown to me, which is always a plus from my point of view.You can therefore imagine how thrilled I was when Ms. Burgis contacted me to read and review the first of a series of novellas titled The Harwood Spellbook, set in an alternate Regency England, one where magic is quite commonplace. This historical period is one I enjoy reading about, since it brings back fond memories of the times I shared Georgette Heyer’s books with my mother, and the premise for Ms. Burgis’ setting sounded quite fascinating, so I did not waste any time in accepting.England – here named Angland – is a country where humans, elves, trolls and other creatures coexist more or less in peace, mostly through treaties stipulated after the bloody wars of the past. The country is ruled by women through the Boudiccate (so named after Queen Boudicca, who in this alternate history did manage to overcome the Roman invaders), while men are tasked with the exercise of magic, relinquishing every political power to their wives, mothers, sisters and so on. The most amusing aspect of this social background comes from the overturned customs: men seem more inclined to gossip and trivial pursuits, while women deal with the responsibilities of government and the rule of the land.Cassandra Harwood is a rule-breaker: to the chagrin of her mother, one of the Boudiccate’s more powerful members, she was never interested in politics, preferring to explore her potential for magic and therefore going against every social convention of the country. Her drive brought her to be accepted in the Great Library, the male academy teaching the finer points of magic, where she distinguished herself and where she met Wexham, a magician of equally strong powers and ultimately her fiancé. As the story starts, however, Cassandra is recovering from the effects of a spell she should never have tried alone, and as a consequence she is forbidden to practice any kind of magic: to do so would mean courting death.Cassandra feels her life is all but over, and hardly tolerates the sympathy of friends and family members, seeing in it a veiled reproach for the unconventional life choices of the past: for this reason she has broken her engagement with Wexham and is not looking forward to meeting him again at the formal reception in the Cosgrave estate, where the pacts with the Elf kingdom will be renewed. Other concerns will however claim Cassandra’s attention – among them an unseasonable and strangely intense snowfall that all but forces the guests to stay indoors – and she will be compelled to fight for her freedom without the help of the magic that until recently was her second nature.I read the story in one sitting, unable to let go of the charming atmosphere depicted by the author, one where a subtle vein of humor runs throughout the pages thanks to the upside-down social customs of this alternate version of Regency England. The verbal skirmishes, the strict adherence to conventions, the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle…) snubs exercised by the guests, all the details I expected from interactions based on this historical period were there, but artfully shifted to encompass the differences created by the premise. Here are two delightful examples:It was a truth universally acknowledged that women were the more pragmatic sex; that was why we were expected to run the government, while the men attended to the more mystical and imaginative realm of magic.The gentlemen, of course, were expected to remain at the table, until a maid was sent to notify them that it was safe for them to join us in the parlor, meaning that the political conversations were officially finished for the night.Cassandra is a very enjoyable heroine, stubborn enough to want to pursue her own goals in spite of conventions, but still prone to the weaknesses of the heart, whose existence she outwardly denies only to be constantly reminded – with loving humor – by her brother and sister-in-law, two other characters I liked from the very start. And she can also be courageously strong when the time comes to face dangers or the creepy (oh, so creepy!) Elf lord who challenges her.As a beginning to a new series, Snowspelled is a very promising one and also a departure from what this author’s previous novels led me to expect, a change of pace that I found totally enjoyable: where Masks and Shadows and Congress of Secrets held a darker core to their background, here the tone is lighter, more a divertissment than anything else, the kind of story that can take my mind off more serious concerns and leave me with the definite sense of having breathed some fresh, invigorating air. Something we all sorely need now and then…I certainly will look forward to more adventures from Cassandra & friends.Originally posted at SPACE and SORCERY BLOG
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  • Lynn Williams
    January 1, 1970
    https://lynns-books.com/2017/08/17/sn...Snowspelled is the latest book that I’ve read and enjoyed by the wonderful Stephanie Burgis and I can say in all sincerity that I hope that there are more adventures from the plucky new heroine from within these pages.This is an entertaining, Austen style, Regency period set in an alternate country known as Angland. Mr Bennett would surely run for his inner sanctum if he was magically transported to this universe where women are the politicians and men dea https://lynns-books.com/2017/08/17/sn...Snowspelled is the latest book that I’ve read and enjoyed by the wonderful Stephanie Burgis and I can say in all sincerity that I hope that there are more adventures from the plucky new heroine from within these pages.This is an entertaining, Austen style, Regency period set in an alternate country known as Angland. Mr Bennett would surely run for his inner sanctum if he was magically transported to this universe where women are the politicians and men deal with the magical elements. The countryside is a place where trolls hide in the snow and elves appear mysteriously and silently along secret paths.As the story begins we make the acquaintance of Cassandra Harwood. Accompanied by her brother and sister-in-law Cassandra has foolishly accepted an invitation to a party and now deeply regrets that decision. Her ex-fiancee will be present and whilst the stubborn part of her wishes to attend to prove to everyone else, and perhaps herself most of all, that she is over the relationship, you can immediately detect that her emotions are still running deep. On top of that a strange snow storm has broken out, many of the invitees have found the roads impassable and it seems that one particular group of young females has gone missing in the storm. Always a bit of a rule breaker Cassandra is determined to be part of the search party, even though she no longer has the ability to wield magic and so begins a string of events that see Cassandra making an unlikely agreement with a rather devious elf Lord – and the clock is ticking.The world here is one in which a tentative pact exists between humans and elves, a pact that requires a renewal and show of faith at certain times of the year – for example the Solstice. It would be considered incredibly rude and a massive slight if things didn’t run to plan, the elf King would be affronted and some of his subjects, the ones who maybe don’t like having their hunting enjoyment curtailed, would be only to happy to see the pact fail and so Cassandra is under incredible pressure to solve the mystery of the snow storm.Being an alternate history this gives the author the freedom to turn things on their head and Burgis takes great enjoyment in doing so and thereby creating a witty and charming story of manners with a difference. The ladies retire to the drawing room after dinner and the gentleman await a call to inform them that they may now enter – the important political matters having been dealt with. I loved the world created here, there’s so much to explore and I truly hope that there will be further series.In terms of the characters. I liked Cassandra, she’s certainly an easy character to read and I was definitely curious about her story – being the first woman to enter the all male world of magic and actually becoming one of the foremost magicians of the period. I feel that there is plenty more from this aspect of the story and that the author is simply whetting our appetites here.Now, as you may know, I don’t tend to read a lot of books that focus on romance and there is undoubtedly a romance that plays a fairly central theme here, but, this has such a lovely period feel that I simply couldn’t resist, plus it isn’t the main thread of the story, just an aspect that helps to create chemistry and build tension.This is undoubtedly a step away from the grimdark blood filled books that I quite often read but it was a lovely and welcome respite. It brought back fond memories of some of my earlier classical reads and succeeded in bringing back to light a Regency style story with a more modern twist. I had fun reading this, it was light and charming and a book that I devoured in one helping. In (almost) the words of Oliver Twist – please Miss, I want some more.In terms of criticisms – my usual refrain, as a novella I wanted much much more but I guess that’s not a bad criticism really, after all, if I wasn’t enjoying it I would have wanted a much quicker end to the story.I received a copy courtesy of the author for which my sincere thanks. The above is my own opinion.I would also quickly give a little shout out for that cover which I think is just lovely.
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  • Lark of The Bookwyrm's Hoard
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. A delightful blend of fantasy and romance, set in an alternate 19th-century England. 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 Cas 4.5 stars. A delightful blend of fantasy and romance, set in an alternate 19th-century England. 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 at The Bookwyrm's Hoard. FTC disclosure: I received a review copy from the author, but also preordered a copy. The review copy in no way influenced my opinion.
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  • Jasmine
    January 1, 1970
    Stephanie Burgis has set up some wonderful worldbuilding–"Angland" is ruled by the Boudicatte, a body of serious political women! Only men (the imaginative sex) do magic! The century-old peace with the elflands is currently unstable and no one is sure why! Toll roads overseen by trolls!– and then populated this delicious world with strong family ties, fiery heroines and determined heros, and high stakes. I want to fangirl a LOT over the world building, but I want to leave it for you to discover Stephanie Burgis has set up some wonderful worldbuilding–"Angland" is ruled by the Boudicatte, a body of serious political women! Only men (the imaginative sex) do magic! The century-old peace with the elflands is currently unstable and no one is sure why! Toll roads overseen by trolls!– and then populated this delicious world with strong family ties, fiery heroines and determined heros, and high stakes. I want to fangirl a LOT over the world building, but I want to leave it for you to discover as you read. (It's so fun!) So instead imma point out two aspects of the story I really appreciated. First is that it's easy for a romance story to fall into the trap of the only real relationships being between the heroine and the love interest, and perhaps with a mentor the MC needs to impress. Instead in this one we have a wealth of important relationships that the romance enriches, not supersedes or replaces. Secondly, (view spoiler)[on a pretty personal note, it's really important to me that the main character's magical disability was not healed as a victory condition of the story. Because of an accident a few months before the story starts, Harwood is unable to cast magic spells. This is something which had previously been foundationally important to her. She'd spent her entire life in pursuit of magic. And it had been taken away. There's a glimpse of a possible cure near the end, and part of me was really cheering for her to take it. It's so important to her, go for it! But she decides that the cost is too high, as it's more important to be around for her loved ones. She turns away from it. And she still gets a happy ending which I could believe in. That is vanishingly rare in stories, that you get a lack of a cure that isn't depicted as somehow poisoning the character or the relationships. There's still the hope of a cure maybe someday, but for now she can be unable to cast magic, and still be productive, loved, and happy. So yeah, I really appreciated that. (hide spoiler)]Final verdict? A delightfully comforting novella and I can't wait for book two.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    *From ARC reading*This has the making of greatness to it! I feel like I just gave someone their first wand. Though wands aren't necessary here to cast magic. This beginning in The Harwood Spellbook series deals with Cassandra Harwood having suffered a falling out in the magical community (mainly male dominated). Overstepping the magical bounds has left her in a condition, and she has been pitied and expelled away from casting the magic she holds dear. Mostly of her own undoings, but this has cau *From ARC reading*This has the making of greatness to it! I feel like I just gave someone their first wand. Though wands aren't necessary here to cast magic. This beginning in The Harwood Spellbook series deals with Cassandra Harwood having suffered a falling out in the magical community (mainly male dominated). Overstepping the magical bounds has left her in a condition, and she has been pitied and expelled away from casting the magic she holds dear. Mostly of her own undoings, but this has caused rifts in her family and with her ex-fiance. In a world where Boudicca won against the Romans, and the men practice forms of magic and druidry; while the women play towards political endeavors. Not only that, but peace is unsteady with the elves and other fey folk. I enjoyed seeing Cassandra expanded in trying to solve the mystery behind the enchanted weather trying to hinder the treaty meeting between humans and fey alike. She is really put on the line as she faces possible punishment. It's interesting to see how she learns to search for underlying meanings in the old texts and the elf lord's twisted agreements. Through it she sees potential for other things and witnesses others genuinely care for her. I can't wait to see if her goals to change the old Magic Library's and the Boudiccate's government structure come to fruition.
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  • rsrchr
    January 1, 1970
    I am an unabashed fan of Stephanie Burgis and her writing. I love her warmth, humour, and inclusiveness, and her plucky characters who are strong in the face of adversity but always human (even the "non-human" ones!) I am more familiar with her work writing for younger audiences (although I loved her "older" books, too); Snowspelled is billed as a romantic fantasy novella for adults.It explores the life of Cassandra Harwood, going on from an unnamed tragedy after which she no longer has her pass I am an unabashed fan of Stephanie Burgis and her writing. I love her warmth, humour, and inclusiveness, and her plucky characters who are strong in the face of adversity but always human (even the "non-human" ones!) I am more familiar with her work writing for younger audiences (although I loved her "older" books, too); Snowspelled is billed as a romantic fantasy novella for adults.It explores the life of Cassandra Harwood, going on from an unnamed tragedy after which she no longer has her passion and career, nor her fiance. As if all that is not enough, as the story opens she is about to be cooped up with a houseful of "society" (with the only bright light being her beloved brother and his wife; if ony she could spend the time with just them instead of the inanities and petty squabbles of the local elite!) This is not what she needs as her heart reels from recent tragedy. I don't want to say too much about the plot, because unraveling the mystery of the source of her deep pain is part of the delicious joy of the book, but suffice to say that events become only more entangled from there. As a reader, I found myself so frustrated with a careless decision she makes, and I desperately wanted to know what had happened and why she was having to find a new purpose in life. I loved the journey, and by the end I was clamoring to know more about these people. Quite luckily for me (and other readers who love these characters), there are to be more entries in "The Harwood Spellbook." I cannot wait! I am spellbound.
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  • Kim
    January 1, 1970
    She wrote this when she couldn't handle the stress of the elections. (Major eyeroll) Then her social media is filled with all this ultra feminist, 'everything is offensive' and 'white people are racist' crap. This novel is exactly something I would like to read. However, I won't give my money to someone promoting these politics. I wish authors would keep their political thoughts on a different page then what they use to promote their books. I don't shop at stores who get political and I don't bu She wrote this when she couldn't handle the stress of the elections. (Major eyeroll) Then her social media is filled with all this ultra feminist, 'everything is offensive' and 'white people are racist' crap. This novel is exactly something I would like to read. However, I won't give my money to someone promoting these politics. I wish authors would keep their political thoughts on a different page then what they use to promote their books. I don't shop at stores who get political and I don't buy books from authors who get wacko level political either. Don't get me wrong, I agree in differences of opinion and I'm ok with someone stating who they are voting for. But this uber offended at everything bullshit is so tiresome after a while.
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  • Kathy Martin
    January 1, 1970
    This novella sets up a new adult series by the author. It is fantasy of the "Jane Austen with magic" variety. I very much enjoyed this story about Cassandra Harwood who decided to become a magician despite the fact that magic is the realm of gentlemen while women focused on politics. She had the strong support of her brother who chose to be a historian rather than a magician. Her parents, however, were not so sanguine. Her mother held a high place among the ruling ladies and always intended that This novella sets up a new adult series by the author. It is fantasy of the "Jane Austen with magic" variety. I very much enjoyed this story about Cassandra Harwood who decided to become a magician despite the fact that magic is the realm of gentlemen while women focused on politics. She had the strong support of her brother who chose to be a historian rather than a magician. Her parents, however, were not so sanguine. Her mother held a high place among the ruling ladies and always intended that Cassandra would follow her path. Her mother has now passed away and Cassandra can no longer do magic.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."
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  • Karen (A Simple Cup of Tea)
    January 1, 1970
    I got to read an early copy of this and basically RAN to pre-order the final novella. From the magic system to the twist on society and gender roles: I loved EVERYTHING about this world. Throw in a determined and super-relatable heroine (who hasn't had to change/adjust their goals and dreams in life?) and some swoony romance and I was sold. Absolutely magical.
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  • A.
    January 1, 1970
    Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis (Coming Soon): It will put a spell on you!Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, RomanceThis novella is a quick read, a must for readers who follow Ms. Stephanie Burgis! I received a copy for reviewing purposes in exchange for my honest feedback.Reading Snowspelled felt like dipping my toes into a pool - I know the book is short, but I want more! Luckily, more is what will come to be. Snowspelled is Book 1 of the Harwood Spellbook series, and I will definitely be looking forwa Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis (Coming Soon): It will put a spell on you!Genres: Fantasy, Mystery, RomanceThis novella is a quick read, a must for readers who follow Ms. Stephanie Burgis! I received a copy for reviewing purposes in exchange for my honest feedback.Reading Snowspelled felt like dipping my toes into a pool - I know the book is short, but I want more! Luckily, more is what will come to be. Snowspelled is Book 1 of the Harwood Spellbook series, and I will definitely be looking forward to more stories on our lovely heroine and her equal partner/hero.I loved that Ms. Burgis made her heroine able to think her way through her own problems and stand up to others with conviction! It is refreshing to see a strong female lead without a dystopian-type plot. Ms. Cassandra Harwood, as we are introduced, knows much about magic in a world where the women practice politics and the men practice magic. There is much intrigue with her background, as we are introduced to her story by the acknowledgement that something bad has recently happened to her personally, as well as the fact that she is no longer engaged to be married! But, what is a woman to do when a former finance makes his reappearance? Cause a little drama, because you know the book would not be as fun without it!In all? I really enjoyed reading this book. While understanding that this is book one, I am looking forward to more of a world building experience in the next book. Snowspelled was a great introduction to the characters that I hope to grow closer to in upcoming books, it certainly left me questions about why certain things are run the way they are.
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  • Anna
    January 1, 1970
    Cassandra Harwood is trapped by a magical snowstorm at a house party full feisty lady politicians and magic-wielding gentlemen, including her ex-fiancé. As if this isn't enough, Cassandra must face a threat from a powerful elf-lord. What's a nineteenth-century Anglish lady to do?I was really delighted to read Snowspelled. The characters were smart and lively, the setting imaginative while still feeling very connected to the lore of the British Isles, and the writing has Burgis's trademark attitu Cassandra Harwood is trapped by a magical snowstorm at a house party full feisty lady politicians and magic-wielding gentlemen, including her ex-fiancé. As if this isn't enough, Cassandra must face a threat from a powerful elf-lord. What's a nineteenth-century Anglish lady to do?I was really delighted to read Snowspelled. The characters were smart and lively, the setting imaginative while still feeling very connected to the lore of the British Isles, and the writing has Burgis's trademark attitude throughout. Also, I adored the novella length, which was perfect for a Sunday afternoon. I'm really looking forward to when the second and third installments come out.
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  • Sophie Anderson
    January 1, 1970
    I LOVED this; magic, magic and more magic, romance, charm, feminism, wonderful world building. Fantastically original and hugely entertaining. I can't wait to return to this world!
  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    I was lucky enough to win a copy of this after responding to the author's newsletter, and I confess to being thoroughly enchanted by this book, set in an alternative England called Angland that is run by the Boudiccate, a political group composed entirely of women, each of whom is married to a magician - the sort who understands witchcraft or wizardry, and not the sort who pulls rabbits out of hats or does card tricks, though I rather expect they could do that as well, come down to it.The main c I was lucky enough to win a copy of this after responding to the author's newsletter, and I confess to being thoroughly enchanted by this book, set in an alternative England called Angland that is run by the Boudiccate, a political group composed entirely of women, each of whom is married to a magician - the sort who understands witchcraft or wizardry, and not the sort who pulls rabbits out of hats or does card tricks, though I rather expect they could do that as well, come down to it.The main character, Cassandra Harwood, was the first-ever female magician in the country, who sustained such a severe injury doing something she should NOT have been doing that she is no longer able to practice magic at risk of her own life. She has broken off her engagement to the love of her life, the dashing Wrexham, to allow him to find a happier match. She finds herself at a house party with her former fiancé and many members of the Boudiccate as preparations for the winter solstice take place - and snow continues to fall and fall and fall. Add to that a run-in with an evil elven lord and you've got a recipe for a gripping story.How much do I love that women run the world? And that their group is named after Boudicca (f/k/a Boadicea)? And that our main character is left without acknowledged power (political or magical) in this world? SO much. And the COVER is glorious!And now I am left to salivate at the thought of the sequel to this novel, which doesn't come out until 2018.
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