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Ratings and Book Reviews (4 22 star ratings
4 reviews
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4.4 out of 5
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    All in all, it was an enjoyable read… but it just

    Stormsong by C. L. Polk lived up to Witchmark in many ways. I absolutely loved Witchmark; it’s an adorable fantasy murder mystery with a strong romance subplot woven into the narrative. The chemistry between Miles and Tristan was great, the setting was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed the murder mystery itself to boot! I loved the romantic aspects, and I especially loved Grace’s romantic partner, Avia Jessup. However, I have one major gripe that overshadowed the whole experience for me: Grace never once had to truly face any consequences or earn redemption for her horrible actions in Witchmark. It was incredibly jarring seeing everyone pretend as though her actions had unilaterally been above-board. In fact, she’s lauded by the Amaranthians as a savior for having assisted in breaking the aether network. Although she makes a few one-off observations to herself about her past actions and reflecting on how awful they were, she ultimately never has to earn her redemption. “He deserves all the credit for doing the right thing and staying the Amaranthines’ wrath. He was the one who acted. I just helped.” “Did you hesitate to help him?” I shrugged. “No. He was right.” “Then you deserve credit too. Many people wouldn’t have moved to do the right thing so quickly. But you made the hard choice, for the good of Aeland.” His approval warmed my cheeks. “Thank you, Your High—Severin.” If Grace’s upbringing had been explored in slightly more depth, I think that these issues could have been avoided. It’s clear that her relationship with her father was toxic at best and abusive at worst. These are all things that truly would excuse her behavior, if they had been fleshed out into a proper theme and something that was examined critically as part of the text. While I suspect that Polk wanted to avoid going too far down the trauma hole, it ultimately resulted in a character who fell flat and never seemed to face any consequences. I frequently found myself wishing that it were Avia rather than Grace who was the primary point of view character. Avia was more interesting and more compelling in nearly every way. She sacrificed a life of luxury, spurning her wealthy father, in order to pursue a career as a journalist. She’s dedicated to uncovering the truth behind the destruction of the aether network, and she knows that Grace is involved. As she grows closer to Grace, she challenges Grace’s privileged upbringing and preestablished notions of how normal people live – though she unfortunately doesn’t challenge Grace’s previous actions towards Miles. She was an incredibly engaging character, who I would have liked to see more of. The murder mystery and politics of the book were slightly less engaging compared to Witchmark (perhaps the lack of bicycle chases?), but nevertheless were still intriguing to read through. It was interesting to see how the Aeland government and the Amaranthians interacted, which is something I’d been looking forward to for some time. Miles and Tristan play their part, of course, though Miles is still weakened after having destroyed the aether network. I was hoping for a few more cute moments between the two of them, but unfortunately it didn’t get much love. All in all, it was an enjoyable read… but it just didn’t quite hit home for me. Grace as a protagonist simply didn’t work well, even if I did love Avia.
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    Delightful

    It is almost 5 AM and I have been devouring this book from the moment it was available to me and I can't believe that it's over already. It's like I'm waking up from a dream of romance and intrigue and winter snow and delicious food and political plots. I love Grace Hensley just a little bit too much and going on this journey with her was a absolute pleasure!
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    Very Political

    This is book 2 of Polk's debut series. I'm a little disappointed that Miles isn't our main character. Instead we get his sister. I really missed the banter between Miles and his partner in the first book. While our leading gal and her minor romantic interest (a woman) have a couple quip's; it just didn't feel the same (or as romantic) as Witchmark did. It is critical that you read book 1 (Witchmark) before you read this one. Stormsong continues the complex politics between nations, the discovery of souls/magic made in book 1, and the repercussions of war. Plot As stated above, the plot gets more complex the further into the Kingston Cycle Series we get. It worked fine for me, but I could see those who dislike highly politicized stories being unhappy about the focus. We have all our characters from book 1 plus some new ones; including our leading lady's semi-love interest. Love Interest/LGBTQ+ Yes our leading lady's love interest is another woman. But if you're hoping for hot lesbian scenes, or even the cuteness we had between our two men in book 1, you're going to be disappointed. The entire side relationship felt very unnecessary. As though it was added in as an afterthought to the story. While the representation is good, and this is an 'own voices' series for Polk when it comes to sexuality; I'm just not sold on it feeling like add-on. Either develop the relationship a bit more, or just cut out anything above 'overtones of attractiveness' and flesh out the story later in series. Overall This is a great series. It has fun, excitement, intrigue, complexity, politics, and magic. What more could you ask for? As this is only Polk's sophomore release I am really looking forward, to not only more from this series but, other books from her. I think TOR has found a shining new voice who will help make fantasy characters less archetypal and feel more like people we might know today (just handling magical issues of their world). I look forward to seeing more of myself and other more modern representations in fantasy books. Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
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    Return to Witchmark

    I loved C. L. Polk’s Witchmark, to which this is a direct sequel, and I heartily advise readers to read that book first. In this world, both politics and the magic upon which the society depends are in an unprecedented and precarious imbalance. At the end of the first book, a series of shattering events have left the realm of Aeland in an even more desperate situation. The supernatural dangerous-elf-like Amaranthines are basically investigating their crimes to decide whether to exterminate them, and the weather workers are in disarray just as the equivalent of the storm of the century bears down on them. This time, the viewpoint character is Dame Grace Hensley, the privileged, magically gifted sister of Miles, our hero from Witchmark. She has much to atone for in her role in enslaving her brother’s will in order to steal his magic, but she’s had her eyes opened to the brutality of her own society. Which, when you come to think about it, is as interesting a place to begin a story as any. Grace’s awakening is not complete, of course. As an unreliable narrator, she still has blind spots aplenty. She has yet to discern the depth of her aristocratic privilege or the lengths to which her enemies will go to keep their grip on power. There’s a sweet lesbian love story, intricate political scheming, and genuine character growth. Sequels are always tough, especially when the first volume is as good as Witchmark. Stormsong, while standing on its own less well, deepens the story. The shift in POV from what was previously essentially an adversary – and who now has a great deal to atone for – gives depth not only to the principal characters but to the world itself.
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