- Author: C.L. Polk
- Hardcover : 384 pages
- Date: October 13, 2020
- Publisher : Erewhon
Thanks to Netgalley, author: C.L. Polk and publisher: Erewhon Books for the free e-arc!
Here is my honest review.
From the beloved World Fantasy Award-winning author of Witchmark comes a sweeping, romantic new fantasy set in a world reminiscent of Regency England, where women’s magic is taken from them when they marry. A sorceress must balance her desire to become the first great female magician against her duty to her family.
Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors come calling.
In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.
The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries—even for love—she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken?
I really, really liked this story. The beginning of the story made me feel like I was going on adventure. I could picture the carriage, the shop and the atmosphere. Beatrice, the main character was on the move to find a book. Not just any kind of book, a Grimoire! She wanted to learn more about magic. She desired to be a better sorceress. Somehow fate has her meet up with another sorceress named Ysbeta Lavan. It was a little intense how they met.
At first I thought Ysbeta would be a rival character towards Beatrice. I was not sure what to make of her in the beginning. My spider sense told me Ysbeta was going to be evil. Was it right? I continued to read on, the interaction between Ysbeta and Beatric was pretty interesting. Both characters are headstrong, educated, yearning to learn more and wanting their independence. Will they become friends or rivals?
Beatrice also meets Ysbeta’s brother, Ianthe who does fall for her. The romance sparked between them. It was a sweet romance in my opinion which I adored! Beatrice has mixed feelings about this. She does love him but does not want to be bound. The society in this story has the husbands control their wives magic. I thought this was awful. To be bound was like being locked up in a pale world. I think magic in this story is colorful and free. To lose that magic would be like losing a part of yourself.
Just another thought: the society times in this story is parallel to women back in the days of dowry. Think of Jane Austen. Women did not have much of a choice. Some felt the burden of helping their family by marrying for wealth and not love. I cannot imagine life like that, can you?
Does Beatrice get a choice or not? Does she get to marry Ianthe? Does she get to be free? What will happen?
Beatrice’s family is an interesting mix. Her father is so into traditional values that she will butt heads with him. Her mother, you can’t help feel sorry for her as you continue to read the story further along. Then there is also Beatrice’s sister: Harriet who I thought was adorable, a youthful firecracker spirit but she was aware of gossip and traditional values. She wanted the best for her sister and herself. Eventually she sees the truth of how society is and realizes she does want a choice as well. I am not sure what else to say on her. Will Beatrice’s family support her decision?
The one thing that was fun was the spirits that came to this story. The spirit that Beatrice connected with was named Nadi. Nadi made me feel like she was like a child but a powerful child. I just totally loved the connection between Nadi and Beatrice. They gave each other comfort, power and friendship. It is totally awesome. As Nadi and Beatrice continue to connect, Nadi eventually cares for Beatrice and the feeling is mutual. They kick butt!
Ysbeta did connect with two spirits and it was interesting how she dealt with it. Her spirits were a bit of a handful. How do you think she dealt with them? Do you think she gets a connection with a spirit to help her journey towards freedom?
I think the story was written elegantly and stylish. It kept me entertained. It was a great story of regency magic and feminism. Women’s rights are the main point in this story. You should read it if you like Austen/Regency.
The Midnight Bargain is released on October 13, 2020