Review No.87 – Cold Magic

Cold Magic – Kate Elliott

Orbit, 2010

The Roman Empire fell more than eight hundred years ago. In the year 1837 Europa is ruled by a confusion of squabbling princes and mage houses, and between them all move the Hassi Barahals, a clan of messengers and spies who have made their place in the world by knowing which secrets to sell and which must be kept close. But even within the Barahal family itself, there are things kept hidden. Cat has not told her uncle and aunt what she sees in mirrors or how she can disappear in the plain sight; her cousin Bee doesn’t talk about the dreams that show her fragments of the future. Even they, however, are not prepared for the day when another of the Barahal secrets is exposed and Cat is torn away from everything she has ever known.

This alternative history steampunk fantasy (all at once) tosses our world into a melting pot with trolls, ghouls and the spirit world to see what might have happened if myths and legends were true after all. The result is a rich and fascinating backdrop to a very engaging story. Its pace is quite slow, which frustrated me, but the characters of Cat and Bee are so excellent that they made even the most mixed up bits of the plot hold together. This is the first book of the Spirit Walker series and continues with Cold Fire.

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