Thanks to Ace for including us in the blog tour for Sylvia Izzo Hunter's Lady of Magick! Review copy and giveaway book are provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Read on for more information!
I really loved The Midnight Queen, Sylvia Izzo Hunter's deliciously wordy compote of Tudor alternate history stewed in a heady mix of magic and romance. Please note, if you haven't read the first book, the About section and review of the sequel contains unavoidable spoilers. If you don't wish to read spoilers, skip down to the giveaway.
About the Book
Sylvia Izzo Hunter brought “both rural Brittany and an alternative Regency England to vivid life”* in The Midnight Queen, her debut novel of history, magic, and myth. Now, in her new Noctis Magicae novel, Sophie and Gray Marshall are ensnared in an arcane plot that threatens to undo them both.
In her second year of studies at Merlin College, Oxford, Sophie Marshall is feeling alienated among fellow students who fail to welcome a woman to their ranks. So when her husband, Gray, is invited north as a visiting lecturer at the University in Din Edin, they leap at the chance. There, Sophie’s hunger for magical knowledge can finally be nourished. But soon, Sophie must put her newly learned skills to the test.
Sophie returns home one day to find a note from Gray—he’s been summoned urgently to London. But when he doesn’t return, and none of her spells can find a trace of him, she realizes something sinister has befallen him. With the help of her sister, Joanna, she delves into Gray’s disappearance, and soon finds herself in a web of magick and intrigue that threatens not just Gray, but the entire kingdom.
*National Bestselling Author Juliet Marillier
Fans of fantasy and romance need look no further than Sylvia Izzo Hunter's Lady of Magick for an entertaining read full of royal intrigue, daringly disobedient young ladies, and regional politics. When her husband Gray is invited to a foreign university as a guest lecturer, twenty-year-old Sophie Marshall (the recently reinstated "Lost" Princess Royal of England, Edith Augusta) rejoices, having heard that unlike Merlin, her current Oxford college, the Alban magic schools treat women no differently than men in terms of what they are allowed and expected to do. Tensions between Alba and England are at a low boil, but eventually she and Gray are granted leave to go abroad. At least she can rely on her wits and magick (and a pair of her father's undercover agents) to keep her royal identity relatively under wraps.
When an alliance is announced between their heir and an English prince, the news kicks off protests and unrest in Alba. Determined to stick it out to the end of the school year at least, Sophie relies on new friends to help her and Gray stay safe while continuing their teaching and studies. Meanwhile in London, Joanna, as an aide to Gray's brother-in-law Lord Kergabet, tries to juggle discretion in her work with the desire to keep her sister safely informed of problems looming on the horizon. Things take a turn for the worse when Gray is kidnapped, and a conspiracy starts to emerge signaling that mounting political pressures are about to erupt.
I adore the relationship between Sophie and Gray, as for all their newly-weddedness, they're rarely precious. They have interests and friends besides each other, but manage to balance those priorities with more pressing matters, like, say, the fate of several kingdoms. Those looking for clean-ish reads will appreciate Hunter's fade-to-black approach to love scenes. (And may I remind you that they're husband and wife?) That said, the novel isn't solely focused on heterosexual relationships, but introduces platonic and homosexual ones as well, however some of the latter may as yet be unexplored. I suspect we'll find out more about it in the next book (I sure hope there's a next book!)
Some readers may find the wordiness tedious, but those who find the rather rambling and inverted syntax of Austenian dialogue charming will find it likewise in Lady of Magick. Those hoping for greater mystery or suspense element will likely be disappointed to figure out the plot early on, while Sophie struggles with decisions over whom to trust, the answers may already be fairly transparent to the reader. I myself may have to re-read the second-to-last 30 pages or so as I sped through them, trying to see if I was correct in my deductions (I was).
Hunter manages to take a fairly frivolous first impression (young marrieds study magic abroad) and turn it into a thoughtful, brilliant tapestry, adding depth and a layer of seriousness to what could have been a purely escapist yarn. The author also does a credible job of weaving the intricate threads of world-building and characterization to produce a substantial, yet still thoroughly diverting tale of drawing rooms, state lines, family ties, and ancient power.
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About the Author
Win Sylvia Izzo Hunter's Lady of Magick. Prize provided by the publisher. If you comment on the post, Alethea will throw in a copy of The Midnight Queen (or another paperback if you say you already have it!) if you are chosen as the winner!
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