It’s been a surreal couple of weeks here! I meant to write this review a full six weeks ago, but was too busy organizing KidLitCon to get to it. Now KidLitCon and school and my regular work are all canceled, so I’m trying to figure out how to be a librarian from home while also homeschooling. Hats off to all those who’ve been working and caring for kids at home all along!
But in the midst of these stressful times, aren’t you in the mood for a nice quick comfort read?
Moontangled: a Harwood Spellbook Novella by Stephanie Burgis. Five Fathoms Press, 2020. 978-1999725495 Review copy received from the author.
We met Miss Banks and Miss Fennel, a sweet young couple hobbled by strict social rules, back in the first book of the Harwood Spellbook, Snowspelled. Now it’s their turn for their own story.
If you’ll recall, the Angland of this book is ruled by Boudiccate, a group of powerful female politicians, all with magician husbands. The tables are turned as to which is considered the more emotional sex, but rigid expectations still don’t fit everyone. Caroline Fennell, rising political star, and brilliant young magician Juliana Banks fell in love years ago. The new and scandalous all-female Thornfell School of Magic was meant to be the ticket to their own version of the perfect power couple. But the events of Thornbound disgraced Caroline’s mentor, and she and Juliana haven’t seen each other in months.
As the novella opens, we see that Juliana has done a good job of making friends with the other young women at the school – a group both ethnically and economically diverse. They’re preparing to show off what they’ve learned for Angland’s most powerful, though Juliana is more worried about the cooling tone of the letters she’s been getting from Caroline than about the notables.
She is right to be concerned. Before long, the two women, both distraught, are separated and wandering off the paths in the enchanted woods, easy prey for the fey who may or may not have their best interests at heart. This being a novella, it doesn’t take long for them to get back to a satisfying affirmation of themselves both as individuals and as a couple. It’s a kisses-only romance that hints at plenty of passion both in the past and to come. My biggest complaint was that it was over too soon – I’d be happy to read a full-length novel about these characters or in this Angland in general.
This would pair well with The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite for a straight-up historical romance, or The True Queen by Zen Cho for a historical fantasy with more emphasis on the politics.