Thornbound (The Harwood Spellbook #2) by Stephanie Burgis

ThornboundI will start this review by saying outright that I loved Thornbound.  This is the second in the Harwood Spellbook series and brings to us the exploits of Cassandra Harwood.  I have to say that posting this on Valentine’s Day feels particularly appropriate because there is an element of romance to this book – although not enough to put me off reading, just enough to pique my interest and not overrun the story.

Be aware that as a review for the second book in series this may contain spoilers so you might want to stop reading now if you haven’t yet read the first book (although I will of course endeavour to avoid spoilers).

Cassandra is something of a rebel.  She was the first woman to study magic and when her magic failed (as we found out in Snowspelled) she found another peg to hang her hat on with the notion of opening up a school for women with magical ability.  Of course, the country, and more to the point the Boudiccate, a group made up of stalwart matriachs who run the politics of Angland with a firm hand, were up in arms.  It’s just unheard of, teaching women magic – magic is the realm of men for goodness sake. Whatever next – men will be wanting to govern the country and all will swiftly go to hell in a handcart if that ever happens.

The story picks up shortly after the conclusion of Spellbound.  Cassandra is almost ready to open her new school.  Set within Thornfell, the family’s ancestral home, all has been made ready for the arrival of the new students.  The future seems rosy, although we soon learn that everything isn’t quite as picture perfect as it may seem.  Amy, Cassandra’s sister-in-law has all but given up any hopes of her political career – the Boudiccate are outraged by the support she has given to Cassandra in developing her plans.  Hiring staff to work in the school has been all but impossible and it seems Cassandra will be running all the lessons herself – bar the weather lessons, for which she has an unexpected appointment, and on top of this the Boudiccate have dropped a surprise audit on Casandra to coincide with the opening.

I won’t elaborate further on the plot other than to say this is very entertaining and also a little darker than the first  Thornfell backs directly onto a dense forest and the family have always recognised the agreements in place between humans and the fae.  Of course, these things can go wrong and when an altar that indicates a pact with the fae appears on school property things swiftly start to spiral out of control.  We’re talking disappearances and creepy encroaching vines.

Okay, so this instalment has a darker feel than the previous book as mentioned above and this is pleasantly unexpected.  Plus, I think Burgis pulls an absolute blinder by keeping Cassandra’s husband out of the pages for the majority of the story – wait!  I will explain.  I think if Wrexham had been present it would have resulted in a lot of agency being taken from Cassandra because she would naturally rely on him and he would also want to step in – also this keeps the chemistry between the two very much alive, and, on top of that it enables a remarkable bond to develop between the females in the story – which is just great.

I’m loving this series, it got off to a good start with Snowspelled but Thornbound is even better.  I’m getting a good feeling for this parallel world and the gender reversals.  There’s a great diverse cast of characters, the magic is gently explored and it’s all set in a regency style Angland.  What’s not to enjoy really.

On top of that the writing is excellent.  I already know, of course, having read a couple of other books by this author, that her writing was really good and this series is no exception.

This series has so much potential that it actually makes me really quite excited.  Seriously, I hope that there are plenty more instalments planned because I will definitely be there to pick them up.  If you fancy your bonnets and petticoats with a bit of sass and an alternate universe where females have some real say in what goes on, if you want a dash of romance that is more a lovely side dish than the whole hog, plus, come on – fae – then here you go, and, you’re welcome.

I really enjoyed Thornbound and can’t wait for more.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.


24 Responses to “Thornbound (The Harwood Spellbook #2) by Stephanie Burgis”

  1. Tammy

    Awesome review, Lynn! I will be reading this very soon. Also I sort of skimmed your review😁

    • @lynnsbooks

      I hope you enjoy – I thought it was better than the first and has promise for many more stories to follow.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Everyone has started this series except me, it seems! I will have to push the first book up my priority list!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Well, fortunately they are very quick reads and I think the second is better than the first – I love a series that improved with each new addition.
      Lynn 😀

    • bkfrgr

      Nope. I only just found out about these books today, so you’re OK Mogsy! 😀

  3. evelynreads1

    Ooh great review! Now I want to read this!


    • @lynnsbooks

      It’s proving to be a lovely series – only two books so far but I do hope for more.
      Lynn 😀

  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    What you said about the strengthening of the bond between the women did resonate with me quite clearly, because this story is very much about joining forces to overcome obstacles, and what’s more Ms. Burgis does it with a deceptively light hand, and no need to preach – a feat not everyone manages so deftly…
    Great review, and I’m glad to see you enjoyed this as much as I did 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Yeah, she really does have a light touch – no preaching whatsoever.
      Lynn 😀

  5. sjhigbee

    I love the sound of this series, Lynn:). Many thanks for sharing!

  6. waytoofantasy

    This book was soooooo good! I’m totally in love with Stephanie Burgis’ writing. So glad you loved this one, Lynn!

    • @lynnsbooks

      I’m enjoying this series which is unusual for me as (1) I don’t really like romance – thankfully the romance here is very subdued (2) I don’t really read novellas – but these are great and I hope that Burgis is planning more – there’s such a lot of scope with this theme.
      Lynn 😀

      • waytoofantasy

        Yeah, I mean there wasn’t much by way of romance in the 2nd and I really loved it even though I am a huge fan of romance haha. She writes characters you care about and I think that helps. 🙂

      • @lynnsbooks

        She definitely has a way with words and I look forward to seeing what she comes up with next. 😀

  7. Sales, Shows, Coloring Sheets and More - Stephanie Burgis

    […] enjoyed both of these novels very much, and I’m looking forward to what comes next”), and Lynn’s Books, where Lynn said, “I will start this review by saying outright that I loved Thornbound” […]

  8. bkfrgr

    Both you and Maddalena have written glowing reviews, so I’m putting these books on my next to-buy list. Thank you in advance! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      They’re lovely light reads and they have such a lot of potential in terms of the series as a whole. I’m really enjoying getting to know the place and the characters.
      Lynn 😀

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