In a world similar to Regency England, women with magical power are sold into marriage as a business arrangement between families. Some of whom are looking for that magical boost to their gene pool, and others may receive financial gain. On the day of their marriage these young women are forced to wear a collar that inhibits their powers for fear that the children they bear may be possessed. Beatrice Clayburn is a young sorceress who does not want to get married. She dreams of the day when she can become a Mage and through being a Mage help her family’s finances, instead her father wants to marry her off. Beatrice practices her sorcery in private but at night she attends balls and is under the attention of all of the young men who are on the marriage mart. Determined not to ever marry, one day she meets Ianthe Lavan and is torn between what she needs and what she wants.
I thought it was interesting that this fantasy tale paralleled the paths of young women in Victorian England who may have fought for equal rights during the Suffrage movement. Also forced to marry for business or monetary reasons these women also dreamed of their voices being heard and not smothered by or becoming possessions of their husbands. The collar that Beatrice would have to wear also brings to mind the collared slaves who were at the whim of their masters in the United States. Reading this novel during the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote and while the Black Matters Movement is still being fought certainly made what Beatrice was and would go through very relevant. I can’t imagine the author didn’t intend for the reader’s mind to follow those parallel paths.
Surprisingly I didn’t get tired of Beatrice’s mixed feelings over falling in love with a young man while at the same time as wanting the freedom to pursue her own future. Most authors would have chosen the easier path, but C.L. Polk chose what spoke to her character and that decision read true to me. I will admit to shedding a tear or two for Beatrice and Ianthe in this novel while hoping their rocky path would smooth out.
I could imagine the hardships of not only Beatrice but all of the young women of her time. In a discussion with her mother about never wanting to wear the collar her mother told a story of how she chose to marry for love and how that love deadened over time. Beatrice’s decision for her future couldn’t just be about how much she loved Ianthe or how much she wanted to be a Mage. Her decision was about not letting anyone have control over her body and while I am not making a political statement I can certainly say that I identified with that feeling while reading this novel. So, did I like it? Yes. A lot actually. But was it easy reading? It really wasn’t. It made me think about what was going on in the world right now. Not a bad thing but maybe not exactly what I was looking for when I sat down to read either.
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest.
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