cover image Brother’s Ruin: Industrial Magic, Book I

Brother’s Ruin: Industrial Magic, Book I

Emma Newman., $2.99 e-book (160p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9395-1

Newman (After Atlas) takes a romp through the underbelly of a magical Victorian England in this flawed alternate history novella. Charlotte Gunn, an adept illustrator who wields an impressive type of magic, has grown up in a debt-ridden family. She conspires to give her brother a chance to impress the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts, though her magical abilities far outstrip his. When she uncovers a nefarious plot, she must use all of her resources to protect herself and her family. Newman reworks the familiar idea of magical schools, breathing some new life into the premise by exploring the darker corners of London and their murky morality (mirrored by Charlotte’s willingness to bend and break the many rules restricting women of her era). However, some of the stylistic choices seem forced, and many of the descriptive passages are quite convoluted, distracting from an otherwise interesting plot. Urban fantasy enthusiasts might enjoy this novella, but several elements feel too familiar. Agent: Jennifer Udden, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Mar.)