Welcome to the Witherward, and to a London that is not quite like our own. Here, it’s summertime in February, the Underground is a cavern of wonders and magic fills the streets. But this London is a city divided, split between six rival magical factions, each with their own extraordinary talents and the alpha of the Changelings, Gedeon Ravenswood, has gone rogue, threatening the fragile accords that have held London together for decades.
Ilsa is a shapeshifting Changeling who has spent the first seventeen years of her life marooned in the wrong London. Alone, she scratched out a living first as a pickpocket and then as a stage magician’s assistant, dazzling audiences by using her Changeling talents to perform impossible illusions. When she’s dragged through a portal into the Witherward, Ilsa finally feels like she belongs. Yet her new home is on the brink of civil war: pulled into the fray, Ilsa must use all the tricks up her sleeve simply to stay alive.
I went to Waterstones this weekend, and let’s face it…I wasn’t going to walk out without buying some books. I actually came out with 7 books…and we aren’t even going to mention the books I already have in my flat to read! However, I did surprise myself by actually reading this book the weekend I got it, and boy was it a good book.
Let’s be clear, I get on with fantasy like chalk and cheese having a picnic. But I couldn’t resist picking up this book. The cover is beautiful and the blurb caught my attention from the get go. I usually steer away from fantasy due to the overly stereotypical natures of the plot, characters, and love interest.
I’m pleased to report that this book manages to avoid much of the stereotypes that can make for a boring read. Ilsa is a strong character and through her the reader is afforded a unique view into the other characters involved. I.E., there is a good amount of mystery and intrigue that surrounds them and no character is cut and dry at first glance.
The story changes and twists but at heart it’s an adventure with a mystery to be solved. I got to know IIsa quite well throughout the book and it felt as though I was growing with her as she discovered her own journey.
There is such a mix of characters that there really is something for everyone. I got to know some of the characters through first-hand interactions with Ilsa but some remained on the shadows, however, my curiosity of those lesser known characters never waned.
I enjoyed the idea of factions. I know the ‘class’ idea has been run into the ground by fantasy/magic books but this idea was executed with a level of finesse that worked exceptionally well. Obviously, this will be a series, there was too much left unsaid at the end of this book for it to be left as it is. However, I do feel positive towards where the continuing story will lead and I do think it will be a story that I’ll enjoy exploring.
Oddly, in terms of fantasy, I didn’t find anything wrong or disappointing with this story. I found the characters to be very approachable and learning all about them was a good journey. There wasn’t anything particular that I felt irritated me with this book. As much as I learned about the characters involved, I feel like there is way more to learn and that I haven’t necessarily found the right balance of knowledge versus own opinion to be able to understand them completely. It is definitely something I am looking forward to discovering more of.
I give this book: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟