The Midnight Bargain

C.L. Polk. Erewhon, $25.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-64566-007-1
World Fantasy Award winner Polk (Witchmark) delivers sharp social commentary in this excellent Regency-flavored fantasy. Sorceress Beatrice Clayborn must marry well or her family will plunge into poverty. But marriage means submitting to a collar that blocks women from access to magic, so Beatrice plans to prove herself as a Mage before anyone can propose, hoping her magical skills will enable her to earn money of her own, making marriage unnecessary. When the Lavan siblings, the equally marriage-averse Ysbeta and her handsome brother, Ianthe, steal Beatrice’s spell book, Beatrice summons Nadi, a luck spirit, to help her get the grimoire back. In exchange, Nadi demands the chance to live vicariously through Beatrice, hoping to experience cake, dancing, and kissing. With Nadi’s help, Beatrice befriends the Lavans and is soon leading a double life: practicing secret magic with Ysbeta, while falling in love with Ianthe over a series of heated debates about structural injustice. To survive the social tightrope, Beatrice summons Nadi more and more frequently, and it becomes her most trustworthy friend, even as its presence in her life puts all her plans at risk. Polk expertly balances propulsive pacing, a rich multicultural world, and a vivid and subversive cast of characters. Readers will be swept away by this powerful and passionate fantasy. Agent: Caitlin McDonald, Donald Maass Literary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 08/04/2020
Release date: 10/13/2020
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
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