cover image Unnatural Magic

Unnatural Magic

C. M. Waggoner. Ace, $16 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-984805-84-3

Waggoner’s delightfully playful debut offers a fresh take on traditional fantasy tropes to explore themes of love and sacrifice. In Daeslund, trolls and humans live in an uncertain peace. Then six trolls are found murdered by human wizards, and the underlying tensions between the species surface. Onna Gebowa, a hyperintelligent human woman who leaves home for the city of Hexos after being rejected from an all-male wizarding school, discovers the bodies and launches an investigation. Meanwhile, Tsira, a young half-troll travelling to Hexos to find herself, discovers Jeckran, a human soldier, wounded in the snow and doctors him back to health. As Onna and Tsira separately work to understand the attacks they’ve discovered, they are drawn into a larger search to uncover who is attempting to undermine the peace between species. Waggoner avoids playing into easy genre conventions with consistently surprising twists and intricate depictions of the specificities of troll and human culture in this world. Though the novel is slightly overlong, the whimsy, mystery, and vibrant characters of Waggoner’s debut are sure to enchant readers. Agent: Jennifer Udden, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Nov.)