Genre : Fantasy, Romance
Upcoming Publishing Date : October 13, 2020
Publisher : Erewhon Books
A Regency-inspired romp with feminist flair, The Midnight Bargain has everything: female friendship, sweet/steamy romance, magical hijinks, and the cutest (!!!) spirit companion imaginable. Thanks NetGalley and Erewhon Books for the opportunity to read this amazing ARC.
Beatrice Clayborn is embarking on her very first bargaining season, and she must secure herself a wealthy husband in order to raise her family out of debt. But in Chasland, marriage for a sorceress means losing one’s magical powers – women are forced into warding collars on their wedding day to protect future offspring from spirit possession during pregnancy. Though Beatrice wants to help her family, more than anything she wants to master magic and become a full-fledged Mage. At the crux of this story is Beatrice’s choice – she must choose between saving her family from financial ruin or becoming one of Chasland’s greatest sorceresses.
There is so much to love about this book. Beatrice is such a fun, fiery heroine, and I loved following her as she navigated high society while pursuing her dreams of becoming a Mage. It is also so refreshing and exciting to have not just one, but multiple, Black characters in a Regency-esque fantasy – Ianthe is positively DREAMY (I am still thinking about him in that turquoise suit) but Ysbeta is hands down my favorite (human) character. Her passionate pursuit of knowledge, respect, and freedom was a joy to read, and I am praying to the Skyborn that we get a second novel devoted to Ysbeta!
The world of this story is so richly painted – Polk’s descriptions of the fashions, the foods, and the dances are absolutely decadent, and there are a multitude of balls and parties to satisfy any Regency romance reader. I also loved the magic system Polk created for this world – the spirits are such a fun and unexpected addition to the story (my favorite non-human character is Nadi, lesser spirit of fortune, who is the sweetest, goofiest character on the page).
Delightful characters and beautiful descriptions aside, I truly appreciated the themes and issues Polk explores in this book. At its heart, this story proclaims that every woman has the right to claim ownership over her own body and to choose her own future. But Polk goes one step further, and shows us that while self-determination is essential to a person’s happiness, individual knowledge and freedom mean nothing if it’s not shared with everyone.
Overall, I just really loved this story and I can’t wait to see what C.L. Polk writes next (and in the meantime I am 100% going to read their Edwardian-inspired LGBTQ+ series, Witchmark!).
The Midnight Bargain is out October 13, 2020 – preorder today!