Fantasy · historical fiction

Weaver’s Lament – Emma Newman

2 Stars

I haven’t been this disappointed by a second novel in a while. Brother’s Ruin, the first in Emma Newman’s Industrial Magic series was fantastic and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Weaver’s Lament, but boy was I disappointed.

 

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Cover from Goodreads

 

Charlotte’s magical adventures continue in Weaver’s Lament, the sequel to Emma Newman’s Brother’s Ruin.

Charlotte is learning to control her emerging magical prowess under the secret tutelage of Magus Hopkins. Her first covert mission takes her to a textile mill where the disgruntled workers are apparently in revolt.

But it isn’t the workers causing the trouble. The real culprits are far more extranormal in nature.

And they have a grudge to settle.

Weaver’s Lament has little of the same magic and excitement that Brother’s Ruin had. The entire book is spent demonstrating how terrible the conditions are for women, and especially working women. Nobody listens to Charlotte in the book but everyone is using her. Her brother is using her while dismissing her talent and intelligence. Magus Hopkins, while pretending to help her is obviously not telling her important things. She seems oblivious to this despite obvious evidence of it.

There’s nearly no magic in this book and entirely too much frustration. I’m sorely disappointed. I’m still hoping for a third book in the series, and hoping it will be a massive improvement.

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Fantasy · historical fiction

The Plastic Magician – Charlie N. Holmberg

4 stars

Is there such a thing as cozy fantasy? If so, The Plastic Magician would be a shining example of the genre. The book is so cozy, heartwarming and wonderfully written.

 

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Cover from Goodreads

The synopsis from Goodreads:

Alvie Brechenmacher has arrived in London to begin her training in Polymaking—the magical discipline of bespelling plastic. Polymaking is the newest form of magic, and in a field where there is so much left to learn, every Polymaker dreams of making the next big discovery.

Even though she is only an apprentice, Alvie is an inventor at heart, and she is determined to make as many discoveries—in as short a time frame—as she can. Luckily for her, she’s studying under the world-renowned magician Marion Praff, who is just as dedicated as Alvie is.

Alvie’s enthusiasm reinvigorates her mentor’s work, and together they create a device that could forever change Polymaking—and the world. But when a rival learns of their plans, he conspires to steal their invention and take the credit for it himself.

To thwart him, Alvie will need to think one step ahead. For in the high-stakes world of magical discovery, not everyone plays fair…

The Plastic Magician is a standalone spin-off from Holmberg’s Paper Magician series and is totally readable by itself. Even if you’ve never read the Paper Magician series (you should though, it’s great!) you’ll still be able to enjoy The Plastic Magician.  

I love stories with interesting magic systems. I really love when they’re set in the time of the Industrial Revolution and the revolution is in part magical. The Plastic Magician is just such a book. The system of magic is based on materials. A magician bonds to glass, fire, plastic, rubber, metal or paper and from then on, their career is based on that material.

Alvie is a delightful character. She is often lost in her own thoughts, self-conscious, and dedicated to her craft. She’s genuine, positive and genuinely lovely to read. The Plastic Magician is a light, lovely story. It’s an easy read and a heartwarming adventure. I did knock a star off for predictability. The villain and some major parts of the plot were obvious. In this case, however, it wasn’t something that made me want to quit reading. Sometimes it’s really satisfying to read something that goes more or less exactly as you expect it to – that’s what makes it cozy.

The Plastic Magician comes out May 15, 2018. There’s plenty of time to read The Paper Magician series beforehand if you want. I really hope more books in this universe are forthcoming.

I received an eARC from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

Fantasy

Brother’s Ruin – Emma Newman

4 Stars

I picked this book up at the library on a whim.

I love stories where industry is magical and young magicians are whisked away into training. I love stories where women defy the rules to do what they want to do with their lives, in pursuit of their own happiness. I love stories that have intrigue, mystery, and conspiracy. I love when stories combine all three. Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman does just that.

Set in 1850, Brother’s Ruin is the story of Charlotte Gunn and her desires to have a successful career of her own choosing, have a happy marriage to the man she’s engaged to, keep her family whole and hale, and to keep her darkest secret. Of course, in her quest to accomplish all that very little goes her way. (It wouldn’t be fun to read any other way, now would it?)

Being found as a Latent and forced to join the institution of magicians, called The Royal Society in Brother’s Ruin, is a frightening fate for many, including Charlotte and her family. Magi aren’t allowed to do any of what Charlotte hopes – no careers outside of what they decree, no marriage, and while her family would be compensated for her absence she wouldn’t consider it whole.

Where The Paper Magician by Charlie Holmberg has all the same elements, Brother’s Ruin is darker, less peppy and hopeful, and less lovesick. The story is fun and compelling and I can’t wait to read more!

Thankfully, Brother’s Ruin is the first in Emma Newman’s gaslamp fantasy series Industrial Magic. The second book in the series Weaver’s Lament is slated to hit shelves October 17, 2017.