I wasn’t sure about this book at first, but I’m glad I stuck it out!
Beatrice is a woman in a society that only values her as a wife and mother. Only men are allowed to become full sorcerers, a fate Beatrice has dreamed of since she was a young girl. She is determined to make that dream a reality, both for herself, and so that she can aid her family in rebuilding their fortune. However, once she meets Ianthe, Beatrice begins to fall in love. Now she must choose between the magic she has dreamed of, or the man she never knew she could desire.
The strongest point of this book for me was the setting. I loved the historical/romance aspect of it mixed with magic. It was really enchanting, and there was something about the way the scenery was described that made me feel so relaxed. It was a world I wanted to reach out and experience for myself (minus all the misogyny).
I didn’t really feel strongly one way or another about Beatrice. I admired her desire to rebel against the patriarchy, and was with her right up until the end. Once again, it all worked out fine, but that one decision she made just didn’t make sense to me (you’ll get what I mean if you read it). Ianthe was nice enough, but I wasn’t swooning over him. The star of the show for me was really Ysbeta. She was SO strong and I loved how much she challenged the views of the society, even more so in my opinion than Beatrice. Everyone else was either irritating (I’m looking at you Harriet), or I downright hated. Also, the spirit Nadi got pretty funny at times.
My biggest complaint was that I was confused in a lot of places. If the magic system had been better explained early on, I would have been able to focus on the story instead of trying to decode what everything meant. I also had trouble keeping track of the scenery because there would be abrupt shifts (literally one line is in the house, and the next a character is all the way across town). However, I wonder if the final version will include some mid-chapter breaks to indicate that change.
Overall, this was a pretty entertaining read. The concept/main themes may not have been new, but I enjoyed the way the story was told.
Intended audience: YA
Content warnings: forced marriages, mention of miscarriage