Rating: 4 out of 5.

3.5 stars

This is another good fantasy novel from the author. The great thing is that this is a stand alone, which is rare to find in fantasy books.

Beatrice Clayborn is a young sorceress that practices magic in secret. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus like men and practicing magic full-time. Women are not allowed to practice magic other than simple charms once they are married. They are collared and their magic is suppressed to protect their unborn children from being possessed by a rogue spirit. Beatrice’s family is broke and her father has placed the families’ future on her making a good match during the Bargaining Season, when well-to-do families gather to negotiate marriage contracts.

One day Beatrice finds a grimoire that has the knowledge she needs to become a full Magus, but before she can buy it another sorceress steals it out from under her. Beatrice conjures a minor spirit to help her get it back, but the playful spirit demands something of her – a kiss from the brother of the rival sorceress. As Beatrice’s relationship deepens with the siblings, her choice becomes more difficult to make. She can’t have it all, and no matter what she decides, someone will be devastated. Does she sacrifice her freedom, dreams and happiness to save her family, or does she choose herself but doom her family and lose the man she may grow to love?

This is a good, fast-paced book with plenty of action. I really liked Beatrice and her rival, Ysbeta Lavan. They are unapologetically focused on what they want out of life and don’t cower in the presence of men or dim their personality simply to fit in or please them. In contrast, Beatrice’s love interest, Ianthe Lavan, is pretty one-note. He’s earnest, wears his heart on his sleeve and his instantaneous infatuation with Beatrice is not believable. In fact, the whole romance part of the story felt forced and was the weakest part of the book.

The whole focus of the book is about magic, but there is actually very little magic practiced in the book which is a bit disappointing. The spirit that Beatrice conjures to help her, Nadi, is one of the best parts of the book. She’s childlike in her joy of little things as well as her fierce devotion and desire to protect Beatrice.

Overall, this is a good, stand alone fantasy book that is a quick and easy read.

Thank you to NetGalley and Erewhon Books for a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.