Witchmark/ posted in: Book Review, Reading Witchmark by C.L. Polk
on June 19th 2018
Series: Witchmark #1
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Published by Tor.com
In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.
Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family's interest or to be committed to a witches' asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans' hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.
When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.
I heard about this book on Twitter and was intrigued by its cover. I didn’t really know what it was about when I picked it up. I laughed when I realized that it is basically about treatment for war-induced PTSD. I was reading this during a week when that was a frequent topic of conversation at my house and now my fantasy books were chiming in too.
The world building in this book is extraordinary. It is vaguely steampunk. Horses and bicycles are the main modes of transportation. The super wealthy have some cars. Just reading about the system of bicycle transportation was fascinating and shows how much the author thought about how the world would work.
In this world some of elite are mages who control the weather. Other mages have different talents but they are bound against their will to weather mages to be used as an auxillary power supply for their magic. Miles has healing magic. He knew he was going to bound to his sister so he ran away and joined the army. Now he is a psychiatrist working in a veteran’s hospital and dealing with his own PTSD and that of his patients. He doesn’t want to use his powers because either:
- He would be found by his powerful family and bound – or
- People would think he was a low-born witch and he would be incarcerated in an asylum
His carefully planned secret life starts to unravel when a poisoned witch is brought to him by a stranger. The witch knew who he was and now the stranger does too.
There is so much going on in this book.
- There is a very sweet m/m romance with fade to black sex scenes. (Thank you very much! I want more romance books without sex scenes please!)
- There is the mystery of what the dying witch knew and what he wanted Miles to do about it.
- There is the drama with Miles’ family.
- There is an usual increase in the number of veterans committing violent acts when they come home. Can Miles figure out the cause of that?
- There is hatred from Miles’ colleague who suspects he is a witch and is trying hard to prove it.
This is the start of a series. I’m looking forward to reading future installments. Come for the magic. Stay for the unfortunately-too-realistic treatment of post-war veterans.