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 on The Bookwyrm’s Hoard blog.