A young noblewoman must pair up with an alleged witch to ward off a curse in this irresistible sapphic romance from the bestselling author of Boyfriend Material.
“Fresh and delightful . . . All the interpersonal drama of Jane Austen meets all the complex treachery of Greek mythology.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
It is the year 1814, and life for a young lady of good breeding has many difficulties. There are balls to attend, fashions to follow, marriages to consider, and, of course, the tiny complication of existing in a world swarming with fairy spirits, interfering deities, and actual straight-up sorcerers.
Miss Maelys Mitchelmore finds her entry into high society hindered by an irritating curse. It begins innocuously enough with her dress slowly unmaking itself over the course of an evening at a high-profile ball, a scandal she narrowly manages to escape.
However, as the curse progresses to more fatal proportions, Miss Mitchelmore must seek out aid, even if that means mixing with undesirable company. And there are few less desirable than Lady Georgiana Landrake—a brooding, alluring young woman sardonically nicknamed “the Duke of Annadale”—who may or may not have murdered her own father and brothers to inherit their fortune. If one is to believe the gossip, she might be some kind of malign enchantress. Then again, a malign enchantress might be exactly what Miss Mitchelmore needs.
With the Duke’s help, Miss Mitchelmore delves into a world of angry gods and vindictive magic, keen to unmask the perpetrator of these otherworldly attacks. But Miss Mitchelmore’s reputation is not the only thing at risk in spending time with her new ally. For the reputed witch has her own secrets that may prove dangerous to Miss Mitchelmore’s heart—not to mention her life.
Set in a magic-infused Regency England and narrated by the hobgoblin Puck, of A Midsummer Night's Dream fame, this stirring outing from Hall (Boyfriend Material) proves a fresh and delightful addition to the queer romance canon. Maelys Mitchelmore, a noblewoman, falls desperately in love with Lady Georgiana Landrake, nicknamed "the Duke of Annadale," a rumored witch widely suspected of multiple murders. Their meeting and ensuing romance are both dependent upon and marred by two curses: the first upon Maelys, the second upon the entire House of Annadale. With help from Maelys's best friend, Miss Bickle, and cousin John, Maelys and Georgiana delve into the world of spirits, witches, and "the Old Gods," in a quest to undo the curses and be together. Hall achieves this intermingling of history and fantasy admirably, such that all the interpersonal drama of Jane Austen meets all the complex treachery of Greek mythology. Full of adventure, chaos, magic, and lust, this will enthrall Hall's fans and new readers alike.
Most anticipated book of the year, and I was right
Oh gosh, this book is so lovely.
This may be my most anticipated book of the year, and it did not let me down. It was funny, it was riveting, and it was so, so fun. The narrator is an absolute joy, and often stole the show. All of the main characters are immediately likable, though I wish Lady Georgiana leaned into the title of "The Duke" because I think it would be really cool of her, but that's just me. The inclusion of various deities was delightful. I love when Alexis Hall gets a bit experimental and weird (in the best, most wonderful ways!) with his writing, and this is that with the humor and tempo of Something Fabulous.
A mythic odyssey worthy of the Goddesses depicted
Since Alexis Hall is one of my favorite historical romance authors, I eagerly awaited “Mortal Follies.” Then he upped the ante, adding magical elements and an unreliable hobgoblin narrator, to create a mythic odyssey worthy of the Goddesses he depicts. Yum!
When the chaste, beautiful and temperate Maelys discovers her gown melting supernaturally at a ball, she is (barely) rescued by the disgraced Lady Georgianna, reputed to have killed her father and brothers in order to inherit the estate. But neither lady is as appears. An attraction ensues, bonding them to outfox magical creatures and Goddesses, helped by Maelys’ best friend and her cousin. All the while, I was uncertain if unfolding events were exactly as our narrator, Robin, was describing them, or if he was intervening, upping the thrill.
Mr. Hall masters dialogue, bringing us into the era, while dispelling confusion, despite language differences. “My circumstance are beyond my control Your speech is within yours.” And he conveys the norms of that time with humor. “That she continued to be invited to balls despite the broad consensus that she had murdered four men by witchcraft might, perhaps, tell you everything you need to know about the fashionable set.” Or, “old scandals never die, they just acquire embellishments.”
Mr. Hall always make me laugh at myself and at the English language, which rarely conveys life’s insanity adequately. “It turns out being surrounded by the ruck and run of humanity is much less pleasant when you have no power to prevent it from rucking and running all over you.”
While Mr. Hall’s classical education was clearly more extensive than mine, I merely highlighted passages to examine after the plot’s dizzying excitement no longer held me in thrall. Yes, the background proved fascinating and added subtle shading to the plot, but it wasn’t needed to follow Maelys and Georgianna as they lurch from one adventurous episode to the next, in ever deepening riddles, ever dangerous attempts to dislodge their curses.
And I was delighted to watch women in roles once written only for men. Their courage, wit, loyalty and creativity are imminently recognizable by all women or marginalized individuals, simply our survival tools. But these gals make it look elegant, while drawing us into the push and pull of their love.
“Mortal Follies” is layer, upon layer of richness with exquisite attention to detail – divine characters, glowing in their human foibles, wit, and insight. This is definitely a novel to re-read, simply to bask in its pleasures.!
I just loved the faerie narrator. I was also a fan of Miss Bickle. She is such a supportive friend. I enjoyed the story and thought there were some really funny parts throughout. I was rooting for the romance even though I didn't always love the Duke.