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A Season of Spells (The Midnight Queen series) Kindle Edition
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While that first meeting does not go off as planned, Sophie figures out what to do with her time back in London: begin the process of reopening the Lady Morgan College in Oxford whose doors mysteriously closed centuries ago.
However, Sophie’s plans might be put on hold when it’s soon discovered that her stepfather, one Appius Callender, as well as the other men who conspired to poison the King, have escaped. Gray and Sophie will find themselves separated as each pursues a different path in bringing back the fugitives and saving the Kingdom.
I loved that A Season of Spells brought us back to London, as one of my biggest issues with Lady of Magick was not really feeling the setting of Alba. Instead here, we’re in familiar territory and get to revisit many of the characters that were introduced in the first book, but sadly lacking from the second. I also felt more of a connection with this storyline since it’s almost a continuation of things started in The Midnight Queen.
I appreciated the fact that some of the characters introduced in Lady of Magick, namely Lucia MacNeill, were given more page time to develop in A Season of Spells. I found myself liking those characters more as I got to know and understand them better. The betrothal between Lucia and Roland was a great contrast to witness when compared to Sophie and Gray. The way that Lucia and Roland don’t seem compatible at first, but have to work on getting to know one another was nice to watch. In that regard, the romantic relationship between Sophie’s sister Joanna and her friend Gwendolen Pryce was another aspect that I wasn’t sure about in Lady of Magick, having felt like it kind of came out of nowhere, but seeing their steadfastness and devotion to one another in this book and how much they’ve grown, I’d really like to see them get their own adventure some day.
Probably the best thing about A Season of Spells, which I honestly wish was utilized a whole lot more, was the history behind Lady Morgan College. The mystery of its closing and the utter eeriness of the abandoned structure was so fascinating, but I was a little let down when that device kind of turned into a segue for the overarching storyline of trouble within the Kingdom. Again, maybe something that will get its own story expanded upon at another time.
A Season of Spells is the conclusion to the trilogy. The ending seemed to tie everything up, but I felt as though there’s room left for expanding the world should Sylvia Izzo Hunter ever choose to do so, and as I stated above there are certainly some stories I would like to read about. As a whole, I’ve enjoyed this series. It’s a great example of an alternate history fantasy.
The novels take place in an alternate version of our world, in the areas that roughly correspond to Great Britain and France, although with a different political map and history and the presence of magic. At the core of the series is the romance between Gray, a student of magic at Oxford, and Sophie, the mislaid daughter of the King of Britain. (To find out how that happened, you’d have to read the first book.) In each novel, the two of them use their magic to resolve a threat to the nation; this time around it involves the rise of a vaguely Napoleonic figure who is poised to conquer the British territories in what would be our northern France. Major subplots include the possibility of opening a college at Oxford to educate women (a major theme throughout the series) and the upcoming marriage of a British prince to the heir to the throne of Alba (Scotland).
OK, so that description barely scratches the complexity of the world in these books. The author has created an interesting alternate Europe and its geopolitical relationships. She also has a very well developed system of different kinds of magic that come into play throughout the three novels. I admire how well she put it all together to make a fascinating whole.
I also really liked both impetuous Sophie and calm and steady Gray and how the author developed their relationship through the series. Rather than drawing out the romance between them through all three books to culminate in a marriage in the final volume (the usual pattern), they fall in love and are married in the first book. Both powerful magicians, their activities as magical saviors of kingdoms alternate with scenes where they are simply a loving married couple.
Those domestic scenes might be the reason that this series might not be for everyone, though. Sophie and Gray may be magicians, but they aren’t constantly engaged in magical adventures. In all three books, the focus is largely on interactions between lovers, family members, and friends, with the action only picking up near the end of the novel. It’s not that the characters don’t do things, but much of the focus is on how they live rather than grand deeds. Readers who like a lot of action are going to be frustrated by the very slow pace, I think.
With that caveat, I would recommend the entire series to readers who enjoy alternate world historical fantasies.
An eARC of this novel was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
That being said I loved the cast, I loved the world and I really liked the hunters take on magic and the relationships between the cast. The bond of friendship is great on a devotional scale.
I loved the world Hunter has created - its Harry Potter vs The Tudors.
I totally plan on picking up the previous books in this series and reading it all the way through. Hunter is a new favorite.
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