Can’t Wait Wednesday : Stormsong (The Kingston Cycle #2) by C.L. Polk

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Today is the start of Wyrd and Wonder – a month long event that is a celebration of fantasy.  Check out the details here and join in the fun in whatever way you would like to do so.

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking Can't waitthe Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Stormsong (The Kingston Cycle #2) by C.L. Polk.

Stormsong.jpgAfter spinning an enthralling world in Witchmark, praised as a “can’t-miss debut” by Booklist, and as “thoroughly charming and deftly paced” by the New York Times, C. L. Polk continues the story in Stormsong. Magical cabals, otherworldly avengers, and impossible love affairs conspire to create a book that refuses to be put down.

Dame Grace Hensley helped her brother Miles undo the atrocity that stained her nation, but now she has to deal with the consequences. With the power out in the dead of winter and an uncontrollable sequence of winter storms on the horizon, Aeland faces disaster. Grace has the vision to guide her parents to safety, but a hostile queen and a ring of rogue mages stand in the way of her plans. There’s revolution in the air, and any spark could light the powder. What’s worse, upstart photojournalist Avia Jessup draws ever closer to secrets that could topple the nation, and closer to Grace’s heart.

Can Aeland be saved without bloodshed? Or will Kingston die in flames, and Grace along with it?

Expected publication: February 2020

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Witchmark (Witchmark #1) by C.L. Polk

Posted On 28 June 2018

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 18 responses

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What an unusual and lovely little baggage this book is.  An Edwardian style world, set in a time of war with steampunk elements.  This book includes a murder mystery that eventually reveals a much deeper plot, there’s a romance woven in along the way and in a world where magic exists you know there are going to be more surprises.  I really enjoyed this, it was intriguing, it addresses issues of privilege and power and the plot is much more in depth than I first anticipated.

The story is told by Miles.  Miles is a doctor working in a veteran’s hospital, he specialises in treating soldiers suffering from mental illness. Miles is in hiding, the hospital he works in struggles for funding being from a poorer part of the city but this suits him as he’s trying to stay below the radar of the upper echelons.  Miles ran away from home a number of years ago in order to avoid a life of servitude and he’s managed to stay in hiding ever since.  However, his luck is running out.  As the story commences Miles treats a patient who has been poisoned.  The patient dies but not before extracting a promise from Miles to hunt for the murderer.  And so the mystery begins.

The world here is an unusual place with lots of interesting concepts but in particular the magic.  For the most part the unwashed masses seem to remain unaware of the use of magic although there are witches among them and when they’re discovered they’re usually whisked away from society and incarcerated in asylums.  However, it seems that there is a powerful cabal of mages, rich and privileged people who can wield strong magic, particularly to control the climate.  These mages remain a secret from the general populace, meeting in private.  Miles was born to such a family but having a lesser ability (healing magic) means that he would have been bonded to his sister (a powerful mage) in order to contribute to her ability and secure the family position.  Basically, witches are treated as inferior and used as little more than batteries to supplement a mage’s power or breeding machines to strengthen the noble families magical ability.

In terms of the characters we have Miles.  He makes the acquaintance of Hunter and, for different reasons, the two investigate the circumstances behind the poisoning.  Hunter is a character straight out of legend -I can’t tell you anything more without giving away spoilers though.  Miles is a likeable character and a good narrator although he seems to have such a lot going on that he makes me dizzy, in fact I think he rushes into things like a headless chicken sometimes but, still very likeable, just – take a breath Miles for goodness sake. We learn quite a lot about Miles and his past as the story unfolds and he feels well rounded.  The rest of the characters are not quite as well developed and feel a little thinner somehow.  As I mentioned I can’t really discuss Hunter but he becomes the love interest of the story, not being overly fond of romances on the whole I can say this is a subtle part of the story, very well written and it doesn’t overwhelm the plot at all – although there is an element of instalove given the timeframe involved here.  Miles sister Grace – well, she annoyed me more often than not but I do think that she eventually came good – and, again, I can’t really go into too much detail about her other than to say her intentions were well meant but she was maybe a little naive.

In terms of criticisms.  I think there was a slight feeling of being rushed along somehow, the romantic element was very quick and the plot progressed at a fairly rapid pace – which isn’t really a bad thing and not something that spoiled the read for me.  However, it did leave a few things lacking, for example why Aeland and Laneer are at war.  In fairness this is a fairly short novel and there’s only so much that you can fit in, especially with a plot of this depth – frankly I wouldn’t have been averse to the page number being increased to provide a bit more detail. but I can understand the desire to keep this a bit more punchy.  There’s a fine balance between too much information and too little and I believe that the next book will focus on Grace so perhaps more detail will be forthcoming from her perspective.  The father is something of a tyrant and Grace is very ambitious – to such an extent that it’s sometimes difficult to understand why Miles still cares for her – and yet, at the same time she hopes to use her position of power to help witches such as Miles – so swings and roundabouts really and like I mentioned, I hope to find out more about her motivations in the next book.

 

Regardless of a few little niggles this was a highly readable story with an almost softly spoken demeanour (by which I mean this isn’t grimdark or violently brutal).  It concludes well and I would have absolutely no hesitation in reading the next instalment.  This story hooked me virtually immediately, the pacing was really good and it tackles some big issues such as exploitation, lifestyles and consequences without resorting to a preachy tone.  It has a lovely period feel to it with the inclusion of some surprisingly modern touches and has a style that I simply enjoyed reading.

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