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.


Weekly Wrap Up : 10/2/19

I’m finally getting round to reinstating my weekly wrap ups.  I need to do these posts as they keep a log of the books I’ve read and also help to keep me focused on upcoming books and outstanding reviews.  So, this week I’ve read two books and for the moment I’m keeping on top of my reviews.  I do have four more SPFBO reviews still outstanding but I’m slowly making progress.

My books:

  1. The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons #1) by Jenn Lyons
  2. Thornbound (The Harwood Spellbook #2) by Stephanie Burgis

Next week’s reads:

  1. The Taking of Annie Thorne C. J. Tudor
  2. White Stag by Kara Barbieri
  3. The Orphanage of Gods by Helena Coggan

Upcoming reviews:

  1. The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons #1) by Jenn Lyons
  2. Thornbound (The Harwood Spellbook #2) by Stephanie Burgis

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.