Moontangled, by Stephanie Burgis (Review)

Moontangled cover image

If she lost Caroline, it would break her heart. But she would survive and heal, because for the first time ever, she was surrounded by a sisterhood of women who valued her for who she truly was, flaws included.

I’ve been following Stephanie Burgis on twitter for a little while, and though I haven’t gotten around to reading Snowspelled yet, I jumped at the chance to read her new novella in the Harwood Spell Book series. Moontangled is out on February 3rd and it’s the perfect little romantic novella for the Valentine’s season. After reading this, I’ll definitely be bumping Snowspelled and Thornbound up my TBR pile, because I need to know more about these magical wlw.

Rating: 4 stars!

Thanks to Stephanie Burgis for the Advanced Reader’s Copy of Moontangled!

Read me for the:

  • F/F fantasy-set romance
  • Bad-ass magicians in ballgowns
  • Interesting side-plot
  • Historical fiction-fantasy
  • Intriguing world-building

The plot:

Tonight, for just one night, the Thornfell College of Magic has opened its doors for an outdoor ball to introduce their first ever class of women magicians to a society that traditionally is dominated by male magicians while women are expected to work in the more sensible world of politics. One magician and politician have different motives for the evening. The brilliant Juliana is determined to win back her secret fiancee, the charismatic Caroline Fennell, after feeling her become distant during their long-distance separation. It looks like there’s no way to repair their relationship gone awry but when they stray into the fey-filled woods, they’re forced together by magical forces stronger than either of them.

What did I think?

I really enjoyed this. I read it curled up on the sofa on a chilly afternoon and it was the perfect short, romantic read. I’m usually pretty fussy about my romances, I’m aro and personally I find I’m easy made uncomfortable by over-the-top romance. I didn’t get that in this novella, and it meant I could get invested in their relationship.

I think I would have enjoyed this novella more if I’d read the other books. I think technically this can stand-alone, I haven’t read either of the Harwood Spell Book series yet and I enjoyed this plenty, but there were definitely parts that would have been clearer if I’d read the rest of the series. I think the ending would have had more impact, and I would have been even more invested in the relationship between Juliana and Caroline. It felt a little bit like reading a fanfiction about characters I didn’t recognise (which is something I do more often than you’d expect). That’s only a comment on this as a stand-alone though, and I have a feeling that revisiting this once I’ve read the other stories will have me emotional.

This novella is a snapshot of a troubled moment in their established relationship. I think that added to the fanficcy vibe, but in a good way. Considering this is a novella, it still succinctly introduced the reader to the characters in a way that made me understand their dynamic and their backstories in enough detail to enjoy the story. I also had a grasp on the over-arching world and the way that 19th Century Angland’s society worked. Magicians, traditionally male, and politicians, traditionally female, are your typical couple. But our couple flout all their rules. Juliana is in the first class of female magicians, and she and Caroline have been betrothed for three years. Their relationship has been kept secret until now (I love that trope) because of the societal expectations that oppose relationships like theirs, but they’re at boiling point now.

This is a romance novella and I’m under the impression that they’re together in the later stories, so we’re guaranteed our HEA in a way that made me enjoy their miscommunications and misunderstandings an awful lot. I hate that stuff when I don’t know how it’s going to end, but here I was just enjoying wanting to lovingly knock some sense into both of them. My only real peeve was that there was a real ‘Long Distance Relationships don’t work’ message near the end of this novella, and they can work and I don’t think LDR = failure is a very helpful message to spread in romance novels. But that’s a pretty minor peeve, and the couple get their HEA and survive the LDR so it doesn’t matter a huge amount. I just hate the thought of people sacrificing jobs/opportunities because they think LDR automatically means a break up.

The eerie fey-woods side plot was both charming and magically creepy. I love fey and their tricksy ways and agreements, and I absolutely adored the way the guardian of the woods was portrayed here. I love when fey have the kind of motives you wouldn’t expect from them, and overall this was a really feel good romance novella that’s really bought me into the Harwood Spell Book world.

Links:

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6 thoughts on “Moontangled, by Stephanie Burgis (Review)

  1. Oooh! I got to this review through Kriti’s #armedwithabingo feature and the book sounds delightful! I love me some f/f magical romance, and the idea that even the stereotypical female career in this world is more progressive than the stereotypes in our world makes me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

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