Snowspelled (The Harwood Spellbook) by Stephanie Burgis

snowspelledSnowspelled 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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11 Responses to “Snowspelled (The Harwood Spellbook) by Stephanie Burgis”

  1. Tammy

    For some reason I thought this was young adult, but your description makes it sound like I thought wrong, lol. I do love Stephanie Burgis’ stories, and I’ll have to keep this in mind when I have more time.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I suppose it could be YA in a way – although I don’t think the main protagonist is a teenager if I remember correctly. It’s very gentle as reads go but I found it a lovely distraction.
      Lynn 😀

  2. sjhigbee

    Well this sounds like huge fun! Thank you for a wonderful review, Lynn:)

  3. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    “Fun” and “charming” are indeed the best words to describe this story, and its upside-down take on the Regency era, and I found myself in perfect agreement with your comments and reactions.
    I more than look forward to the next stories about Cassandra & friends… 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I will definitely read more – and, also, thank you to you because the author offered me a copy to review after reading my comment on your review – so thanks to you for that and also for such a great review that piqued my interest.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I need to read this one soon! Sounds like a short, fun read.

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was – very gentle but the sort of book that I love to fit in between other more grim tomes.Lynn 😀

  5. Danya @ Fine Print

    Hooray, so glad to hear you enjoyed this one too Lynn! I thought it was absolutely delightful, particularly Cassandra with her tenacity…and the hints at what she’ll get up to in future stories (which sound very promising indeed). I’m very curious to learn more about the elven lords too!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Delightful and charming are two words that sprung to mind for me. I would definitely read more.
      Lynn 😀

  6. August : My Month in Review | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis […]

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