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Moontangled by Stephanie Burgis
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Sweet, and very clever, but I'm always so frustrated when people simply don't communicate. And I am apparently not the only one. It's such fun to return to this universe of magic, love, and acceptance.

[I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.] ( )
  tldegray | Mar 22, 2020 |
This is the third novella in the Harwood Spellbook series and stars Juliana Banks who aspires to be one of the first female magicians and Caroline Fennell whose political career has hid a roadblock when her mentor left the field in disgrace.

The two young women had been secretly engaged for a few years as each worked on their own future. Events come together at a party thrown to showcase the new female magicians where Juliana hopes that their secret engagement can become a public one. But Caroline is determined to jilt Juliana - for her own good - because she doesn't want to drag her down because of her tarnished political future.

The fey get involved when the two girls go off the path in a forest controlled by the fey. The two girls have to work together to get themselves free and eliminating the misconceptions both girls hold is a major part of their rescue.

This was an engaging and romantic story. ( )
  kmartin802 | Mar 5, 2020 |
My thanks to Stephanie Burgis for reaching out to me and asking to read and review her latest novella in the Harwood Spellbook series: I’m always happy for any new story in this delightful saga, my only complaint being that this time it was a short one, and it ended far too soon…

The Harwood Spellbook sequence focuses on a Regency era alternate version of Britain where history diverged from the one we know when Queen Boudicca found a way to defeat the Roman invaders by allying herself with a powerful mage who later became her husband. Since then, the political power in Angland has been wielded by women and entrusted to the body called the Boudiccate, while magic has remained the jurisdiction of men, the partnership strengthened by marriage between these two branches of society. There are always exceptions, though, and one of them is Cassandra Harwood, gifted with the ability to handle magic with great skill: in the past, Cassandra wanted to establish herself as a formidable mage, and in so doing forgot the safety limits and lost her powers, but fortunately not the competence to teach other young women, equally gifted, what she knows.

Moontangled takes place in the school where – as we learned from previous novels and novellas – Cassandra has been able, not without overcoming many social and practical obstacles, to gather the first group of young lady mages, and is now ready to present them officially to Angland’s society, to gain further backing. There is one problem lurking in the background, however, represented by the secret engagement between Juliana Banks, one of the pupils, and Caroline Fennell, one of the most promising candidates for the Boudiccate: they are waiting for society’s recognition of women mages and for Caroline’s entry in the ruling body before making their relationship public, but recent events (explained in Thornbound, book 2 of the series) have turned Miss Fennell into something of a social outcast, and she’s ready to free Juliana from their bond to avoid tainting her future career. What ensues is both a comedy of errors and a light-hearted romance that works very well within the magical background of Thornfell and its woodland fey dwellers. And if I could enjoy this romantic interlude, despite my usual avoidance of the theme, you can be assured that it’s a charming one, indeed.

There are some serious themes at play here, as well, not least the emotional hardships suffered by some of these girls in the past, when they became aware of their magical abilities and had to hide or suppress them because of societal or familiar pressures – or both. Here, at the school, they are finally free to express their full potential and to create the sense of family and belonging that so far has been denied them, as they promote the kind of change in society that can only come from inside and from example.

[…] because for the first time ever, she was surrounded by a sisterhood of women who valued her for who she truly was, flaws included.

Together with the romantic misunderstanding at the core of Moontangled, this is what makes this story a pleasure to read, creating an enjoyable balance between its… fluffier aspects and the character exploration that I’ve come to expect from Ms. Burgis’ works. And a special mention must be made for the gorgeous cover that perfectly complements the contents and is only the latest in a series of equally beautiful illustrations for the series. ( )
  SpaceandSorcery | Jan 17, 2020 |
Moontangled by Stephanie Burgis is the latest instalment in the Harwood Spellbook series of novellas. I have previously read and reviewed Snowspelled, Thornbound, and Spellswept (in the Underwater Ballroom Society anthology). Aside from some references to earlier events and maybe a bit of world building, Moontangled can be enjoyed without having read the previous novellas. However, I recommend reading at least Thornbound first for a bit of context and to avoid being spoiled for that story if you come to read it later.

Moontangled is a short novella and an enjoyable one. It’s about Caroline and Juliana, who were side characters in some of the earlier stories. Given their own story at last, we get a more detailed look at their relationship. There are some ramifications of the events in Thornbound, magic, and a satisfying resolution.

My only criticism is that I finished it quickly and couldn’t spend longer enjoying it. I recommend Moontangled if you’ve enjoyed any of the earlier Harwood Spellbook novellas and especially if you thought more attention should be paid to the recurring f/f couple. I look forward to Burgis’s next instalment.

4.5 / 5 stars

You can read more of my reviews on my blog. ( )
  Tsana | Jan 13, 2020 |
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Dressing for a ball would always be a challenge for any lady who found it easier to analyze — from memory — an obscure spell from two centuries ago than to remember which sleeve lengths were currently fashionable across the nation.
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