Spellswept and Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis
Publisher: Five Fathoms Press
Publication date: 30 October 2018 and 04 September 2019
Genre: Fantasy romance
Page count: 90 pages and 168 pages
Rating: 4.5 and 4 stars
This is a spoiler-free review
I’ve been seeing these novellas, particularly Snowspelled, pop up all over my bookish social media feeds for ages. However, I was compelled to buy and read them when I found out that Emma Newman, one of my favourite authors, had been selected to narrate the audiobooks. Fully convinced, I dove into Spellswept and Snowspelled and I’m so glad I made the time to read them!
In 19-century Angland, magic is reserved for gentlemen while ladies attend to the more practical business of politics. But Cassandra Harwood has never followed the rules….
Four months ago, Cassandra Harwood was the first woman magician in Angland, and she was betrothed to the brilliant, intense love of her life.
Now Cassandra is trapped in a snowbound house party deep in the elven dales, surrounded by bickering gentleman magicians, manipulative lady politicians, her own interfering family members, and, worst of all, her infuriatingly stubborn ex-fiance, who refuses to understand that she’s given him up for his own good.
But the greatest danger of all lies outside the manor in the falling snow, where a powerful and malevolent elf-lord lurks…and Cassandra lost all of her own magic four months ago. To save herself, Cassandra will have to discover exactly what inner powers she still possesses – and risk everything to win a new kind of happiness.
Note: This audiobook includes a bonus novella, Spellswept.
These two novellas are totally charming and work so beautifully as audiobooks. Not only are they set in a compelling alternate version of 19th century England in which women rule and men perform magic, they also feature incredibly sweet romances that will warm your heart. I highly recommend reading Spellswept first, as I think you get a better grasp on the world, politics, and magic, but also on Cassandra as a character. I don’t think I would have been lost while reading Snowspelled if I hadn’t read Spellswept first, but I had a better understanding of Cassandra’s situation in Snowspelled, particularly regarding why the loss of her magic is so devastating.
Something to note that I really appreciated in this book is the fact that just because women are in power doesn’t mean that they have the upper hand over men. In these books, women are just as constrained in Angland as they were in our equivalent time, just in a different way. It would have been incredibly easy for Burgis to flip sexism and power dynamics, however she doesn’t do that and it is incredibly effective.
Our two main characters in these novellas are Amy and Cassandra, and they’re both wonderful. Although they’re very different women, they are both strong, compassionate, and determined women who are not overshadowed or defined by the men they choose as partners. I really enjoyed seeing their stories and romances unfold, and I’d absolutely love to see more similar romance in fantasy.
I’d highly recommend these books to anyone who loves fantasy, Victorian historical fiction, romance, or any combination of the above. Super accessible and a delight to read, Spellswept and Snowspelled are totally charming and are the perfect escapist read.
Want to try these books for yourself? You can find Snowspelled at the following sites (affiliate links):