I received a review copy from the publisher through the publicity company in exchange for an honest review as part of the tour. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Historical Fantasy Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 5 stars Series: yes - first book in trilogy
Robin Blyth has more than enough bother in his life. He’s struggling to be a good older brother, a responsible employer, and the harried baronet of a seat gutted by his late parents’ excesses. When an administrative mistake sees him named the civil service liaison to a hidden magical society, he discovers what’s been operating beneath the unextraordinary reality he’s always known.
Now Robin must contend with the beauty and danger of magic, an excruciating deadly curse, and the alarming visions of the future that come with it—not to mention Edwin Courcey, his cold and prickly counterpart in the magical bureaucracy, who clearly wishes Robin were anyone and anywhere else.
Robin’s predecessor has disappeared, and the mystery of what happened to him reveals unsettling truths about the very oldest stories they’ve been told about the land they live on and what binds it. Thrown together and facing unexpected dangers, Robin and Edwin discover a plot that threatens every magician in the British Isles—and a secret that more than one person has already died to keep.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
Hello and welcome to this fabulous historical fantasy that starts off a new trilogy in the best possible way. I was really looking forward to this one, so was very excited when it arrived through the door, and it did not disappoint.
Let’s start with the magic. I loved the cradling idea – that to use it you have to create and envision a sort of cat’s cradle, hence the name. It felt really new, and was a good visual for what was happening to cast spells. Plus it leaves a lot of restrictions on magicians so that they’re not all powerful in fights and there’s space for non-magical Robin can get involved.
And then the book starts to explore older and other magics, which certainly look to be a major feature of the coming books. The extension was a very interesting concept, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.
It’s also a carefully researched historical, down to the dialect and mindset (which is something I love seeing. It shows the depth of time sunk into understanding the world that’s about to be altered to include magic.) There’s the luxury of Edwardian era, made to feel even more decadent by the hidden magical society underneath. I love this time period, one of my absolute favourites as that transition between the Victorian (and all its industrialisation) and the war periods is a fascinating one for technology and social change.
My favourite of the two men was definitely Edwin; he’s a bookish, research-driven character – there’s no way I’m not going to identify with him more than an athlete! I liked his precision and the academic way he explained things (and the academic slant that gave magic in my mind, because we get most of the initial introduction to magic through him.) Also all that fragility and the cool shell erected to protect himself from a world he doesn’t fit into (because his magic isn’t as impressive as others?) Very relatable too.
This isn’t to say that I didn’t like Robin. He was so cheery and nice, courteous and kind. And loyal – the sort of man you want to be friends with. He has his own fears and insecurities too, but doesn’t let them make him mean.
They balance each other so well, which makes the tension of their fears pushing them away from each other even more. Because you can see how well they work as a team, and how they help the other be more themselves.
The sequel has firmly put itself on the list of books I really want to read right now, thank you very much.
Read my review of other books by Freya Marske:
The Last Binding (this series):
- A RESTLESS TRUTH (#2)