“The world will crush her if she tries to stand against it.”Spellswept – Stephanie Burgis
“Not if we don’t let it.”
After reading Moontangled I knew I had to read the rest of the addictive Harwood Spellbook series. So when Stephanie Burgis offered me review copies of the whole series, I jumped at it! They totally stood up to Moontangled, and in these tough times, they’re perfect – fantasy-romance novellas that are easy to read and provide the happily ever after we all need right now!
Only four months ago Cassandra Harwood was betrothed to the brilliant love of her life, and set to be the first, and greatest, woman magician in Angland – where men rule magic and women rule politics. Until she lost her magic, and her world.
Unnatural snow has trapped Cassandra at a house full of gentleman magicians, manipulative politicians, her family who love to interfere ‘for her own good’ and, of course, her ex-fiancé who won’t give her up this easily. In the snow lurks an elf-lord as malevolent as he is powerful, and without her magic Cassandra will have to draw on another kind of power to save herself, and everyone she loves.
What did I think?
I love Cassandra Harwood so much, and I love these novellas. Cassandra is doing her best, every day, and that’s not always… that successful. I think I love her so much because I identify with her fierce independence and stubborn self-reliance. Cassandra spent her life fighting to prove herself as a magician, and now that’s been taken away from her she doesn’t know how she fits into the world – or her relationship with the gorgeous Rajaram Wrexham. While the overt conflict of this novella is Cassandra’s ill-advised deal with a malicious elf, I was far more fascinated by her internal conflict as she tries to assert herself without losing the independence she’s fought for and ‘compromising’ Wrexham. The novella is light and fluffy, and I found myself just laying around grinning at my phone as I read it, and the ending added just enough intrigue that I had to know what was happening next.
Cassandra Harwood scandalised Angland once when she became the first and fiercest woman magician. Now it’s old hat to scandalise, and she’s ready to change the world with her radical new school – the Thornfell College of Magic where a generation of young women are going to learn an art kept from them until now.
But, when a dark and sinister fey altar is discovered in the school library, the Boudiccate are ready to close down Thornfell, the school they were sure was destined to fail, and they send a delegation to do just that. Cassandra’s day is only made worse when Wrexham, the husband she only just got back, is torn away from her. As the forest seems to turn against Thornfell itself, malevolent vines creep in to try and take the school, Cassandra has to fight to save her love, her school and her students.
What did I think?
The mystery in this was so good? I’ve loved the plot aspects of the rest of Stephanie’s novellas, but this one was above the rest. The fey altar, and not knowing who had placed it? The vines crawling in from the forest, trying to get into the school? It was so atmospheric and spooky, without ever losing the fun atmosphere that I’ve come to love from these stories. And having Cassandra and Wrexham without conflict between them? I’m soft, I love them so. We also got to meet my favourite couple, Caroline and Juliana, and see what happened to lead to Moontangled.
As Cassandra’s biggest fangirl, I also loved seeing Cassandra in her element, teaching her first students and trying with that traditional Harwood stubborn spirit to get her school up and running against all odds, and there was just enough romantic strife to be fun and exciting without ruining the soft and fluffy relationship between the two.
Angland in the 19th century is ruled by powerful women and powerful tradition. To join the Boudiccate any ambitious young politician must meet that tradition and take a gentleman magician as her husband.
Amy Standish is the perfect politician, born to it, and Jonathan Harwood would be her perfect dream. If only he was a magician, and not hopelessly obsessed with history. But then, that passion is what makes him her greatest temptation. The Harwood’s Spring Solstice Ball, in their beautiful underwater ballroom full of sparkling fey lights and a cracking spell. Amy will have to face unexpected magic, and the greatest political crisis of her life to win her family and the future she wants enough to fight for it.
What did I think?
I’m obsessed with the setting of the underwater ballroom. It sounds so beautiful, and the image of gowned dancers swirling around under the water is vivid and gorgeous. And after reading the rest of the series I was weak for Amy and Jonathan, so finding out how they married had my heart aching. One of the things I love about this series is how Stephanie explored all the side characters we adored in the first two books to let us see their own personal adventures and struggles. Amy must be destined to be a Harwood; she’s just as stubborn, just as caring and just as willing to throw tradition to the wayside to get what she wants. I loved the way that Amy and Jonathan got together, and I loved seeing Amy at her absolute best – negotiating a complicated political disaster to turn it into a Harwood family triumph. As we all know, I’m absolutely weak for Cassandra, and though she’s young in Spellswept, she’s still on fine form, and it was a treat to see just how she’d managed to win her way into becoming Angland’s first woman magician. The whole Harwood Spellbook Series has found family vibes, but Spellswept was the best of the lot for that family feeling.