“Fantastical, thoughtful, and un-put-downable, I flew through Stormsong and want the third in the series NOW.” —Elizabeth Hoyt
After spinning an enthralling world in Witchmark, the winner of the World Fantasy Award for best novel that was praised as a “can't-miss debut” by Booklist, and as “thoroughly charming and deftly paced” by the New York Times, C. L. Polk continues the Kingston Cycle in Stormsong. Magical cabals, otherworldly avengers, and impossible love affairs conspire to create a book that refuses to be put down.
Dame Grace Hensley helped her brother Miles undo the atrocity that stained her nation, but now she has to deal with the consequences. With the power out in the dead of winter and an uncontrollable sequence of winter storms on the horizon, Aeland faces disaster. Grace has the vision to guide her parents to safety, but a hostile queen and a ring of rogue mages stand in the way of her plans. There's revolution in the air, and any spark could light the powder. What's worse, upstart photojournalist Avia Jessup draws ever closer to secrets that could topple the nation, and closer to Grace's heart.
Can Aeland be saved without bloodshed? Or will Kingston die in flames, and Grace along with it?
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Polk follows her gaslamp fantasy Witchmark with a superb sequel blending political intrigue, witchcraft, and queer romance. Spirited Dame Grace Hensley fresh from helping her brother, Miles, the protagonist of the first book, foil an assassination plot against Aeland's Queen Constantina is appointed chancellor of the England-like country and elected Voice of the secret group of witches that protect Aeland from storms. At the request of the queen, Grace and Miles investigate a delegation from Laneeri, a rival country, that may have been involved in the assassination plot. Meanwhile, norm-bucking journalist Avia Jessup works to get to the bottom of the role the Hensley family played in the discontinuation of Aeland's use of aether, a power source that draws from human souls. Grace exhausts herself navigating the mass demonstrations over the loss of aether power, her attempts to reform antiwitchcraft laws, and her strong attraction to Avia. When the Laneeri heir dies under mysterious circumstances while in Aeland, Grace and Miles pivot their investigation to find his murderer. Polk's ambitious world-building never encumbers her assured, action-packed pacing, deep characters, and genuine emotion. This delectable treat is a worthy follow-up to her debut.
A Roller Coaster Ride!
“Stormsong” is the second novel in the Kingston Cycle Series by C. L. Polk, and it is a roller coaster ride! It’s a very different fantasy that is set in an alternate world in the nation of Aeland, which is sort of like a early 20th century England. It is the sequel to their debut novel “Witchmark.”
The protagonist of this novel is Grace, the sister of Miles, who was the focus of the first novel. Miles becomes a secondary character in this work. Grace is trying to deal with the aftermath of the destruction of the aether network that powered Aeland’s technology, while trying to ward off horrible winter storms by weather magic. It’s a time of rapid and unprecedented change in Aeland, when the horrors that were exposed in the first novel have to be reckoned with. Grace is appointed Chancellor in her father’s place, and must try to guide events to a better place. Meanwhile, those who held power before try to regain it.
The world building in these novels is amazing. It’s been referred to as gas lamp fantasy and silver fork fantasy. It has aspects of mystery, romance, social commentary, and high fantasy. The world it describes is rife with class inequality and colonialism. The story it tells is alternately heartwarming and horrifying.
I guess it should be noted that the Kingston Cycle has been nominated for the 2022 Hugo Award for Best Series. The third book is “Soulstar” which is available now, and I’m looking forward to reading it!
This book dealt with the consequences, both personal and political, of what happened in Witchmark with much-appreciated nuance. Loved the characters, loved the plot, can’t wait for the third!