Friday, February 28, 2020

The Ward of Nightingale Hall by Ennis Rook Bashe (Review)

Image:  A couple stands in a shallow pool of water made by a cascade in the background.  Surrounding them is lush, green vegetation. The woman has long, red hair and is wearing a white dress.  The man has on black pants with no shirt.  They are embracing each other.  The title of the book and author are written in white at the top of the cover.

Note:  I received a copy of this book from the author.

Genre:  Alternative-History/Fantasy/Romance
TW:  Psychological (somewhat physical) abuse

Henry, after suffering psychological and magical scars from his ex-betrothed, is assisted in healing by a ward of his family (Ivy). When Henry is kidnapped by his evil ex years later, Ivy must rescue him. Can she also free his heart?

At first, I wasn't sure if I would like this book.  The descriptions of Henry's ex were cliché (creamy skin and all).  When Raella (the ex-betrothed) turned cold towards Henry, I felt like it was an abrupt, cardboard villain scene with little to make her behavior seem even slightly plausible.  The book is short (around twenty-eight pages), so that might be why certain elements aren't fleshed-out.  There are a few typos.

Fortunately, I kept reading past my initial impression.

The magic system in this book was interesting.  Henry is a transman and a Catalyst, a mage who produces magic to be siphoned.  Raella and Ivy are Channelers, people who can pull magic from Catalysts and manipulate it in various ways.  There is a mention of wizards (who seem different than mages).  It made me want more stories set in this world.

The year was never stated (to my recollection), but there are appropriate markers (fashion, automobiles) to give readers an educated guess.

Henry needs a mobility aid and can tire easily at times.  His levels of magic have a real impact on his body to the point where he also needs medication.  Basically, he's a spoonie and doesn't always know what each day will bring.  The book deals with this aspect well.

Henry and Ivy complement each other nicely.  Their history is given enough time on the page for the reader to understand their connection.  There is a sex scene at the end, but it isn't explicit.

Overall, it's a book worth your time.

Biography:  Ennis Rook Bashe is a nonbinary graduate student from New York who loves their rescue cat, making cosplay TikToks, and watching horror game streamers. Find them on Twitter at @ennisrookbashe. Follow their newsletter at :D

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