C.L. Polk, 2018

Premise: Miles is a doctor, trying desperately to help the soldiers coming back broken from the war. But there are so many, and he might be the only one who sees that there's more going on under the surface. And it's his magic that lets him see that; his magic that he must keep hidden for his own safety. 

There's a lot to like about this book. The characters are mostly interesting. The malady that only Miles can see is a compelling mystery. The romantic interest (a mysteriously beautiful man named Tristan) is charming and sexy.

And yet it wasn't a slam dunk for me. I think the world-building was a little too vague, the magic a little too vague, and the ending a little too vague. 

For example, this book isn't set in Edwardian London, although it often feels like it is, or maybe was in some previous draft of the book. I'm not sure why it isn't, honestly. Yes, not-England and not-(Germany? Austria? It feels like France except that it also feels like WWI, so it's not a perfect parallel) are engaging in complex magical warfare, but I found it occasionally odd to remember that it's not just a paranormal historical romance/mystery, it's actually set in a fantasy world. 

But we could assume that a reader knows things about England that we don't know about Aeland, and occasionally I stumble over those things, or other missing bits of knowledge. 

Another small nitpick is that the cover art is beautiful, but it doesn't feel like it connects to the story. 

The solution to the mystery was largely satisfying, although I did feel like some things were (again) underexplained. The final denouement was definitely weirdly short, especially for a book without a sequel focused on these characters.  

Still, it was an enjoyable read overall, although I'm not sure I found the world and the secondary characters interesting enough to follow them into the sequels. 

3 Stars - A Good Book


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