BROTHER’S RUIN is my first in the gaslamp fantasy (sub)genre, and I was intrigued and fascinated all at the same time. I love the mix of magic with the historical era, in this case, Victorian, if I’m not mistaken. This is a novella introducing the Industrial Magic series, and it’s a good first book in the series, as I want the next one now!
In Charlotte’s world, people who show magic–especially one as powerful as hers–are often taken away to be trained in the Royal Society of Esoteric Arts. While the mages are then trained to control their magic, the downside is that they lose their freedom. Or so Charlotte believes. Thus, she hides her magic, but when her father became indebted and needed money, he had no choice but to report her brother, Benjamin, who had exhibited some talent so that the family could be compensated for “losing” their son to the arts. But Ben isn’t the talented one, but his sister…
Charlotte is a resourceful and enterprising young woman, and she’s strong in the face of wanting to protect her family and save her society from certain menace. I love that she was so affected by Magus Hopkins and look forward to their relationship developing into romance in the future (or so I hope!). But first she had to get over her “infatuation” with Hopkins, who is so “beautiful”. Otherwise, she’d never see the him beneath the face.
There’s also some mystery intertwined, and Charlotte was really so brave to solve it herself. I look forward to more of her adventures in succeeding books.
Rating: 5 stars
The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Ben’s life and their own livelihoods.
But Benjamin Gunn isn’t a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect.
When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city.
Brother’s Ruin is the first in a new gaslamp fantasy series by Emma Newman.