A “brilliant and terrifically fun”* debut novel brings an enchanting new voice to fantasy.
Onna can write the parameters of a spell faster than any of the young men in her village school. But despite her incredible abilities, she’s denied a place at the nation’s premier arcane academy. Undaunted, she sails to the bustling city-state of Hexos, hoping to find a place at a university where they don’t think there’s anything untoward about providing a woman with a magical education. But as soon as Onna arrives, she’s drawn into the mysterious murder of four trolls.
Tsira is a troll who never quite fit into her clan, despite being the leader’s daughter. She decides to strike out on her own and look for work in a human city, but on her way she stumbles upon the body of a half-dead human soldier in the snow. As she slowly nurses him back to health, an unlikely bond forms between them, one that is tested when an unknown mage makes an attempt on Tsira’s life. Soon, unbeknownst to each other, Onna and Tsira both begin devoting their considerable talents to finding out who is targeting trolls, before their homeland is torn apart…
*Kat Howard, Alex Award-winning author of An Unkindness of Magicians
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
This murder mystery/fantasy is the genre crossover we didn’t know we needed. C. M. Waggoner’s debut follows Onna, a talented wizard on her way to the big city in search of training. Meanwhile, a troll named Tsira is on a journey of her own—to find a place where she belongs. These two characters are drawn together when they both launch investigations into the murders of four trolls. Waggoner’s enchanting tale is packed with big personalities—we fell hard for spicy, blunt, and crass Tsira and feisty, intelligent Onna. Unnatural Magic offers a bit of everything: adventure, fantasy, humor, thrills, and even some touching romance. All this and a pair of strong, relatable heroines to root for!
Waggoner's delightfully playful debut offers a fresh take on traditional fantasy tropes to explore themes of love and sacrifice. In Daeslund, trolls and humans live in an uncertain peace. Then six trolls are found murdered by human wizards, and the underlying tensions between the species surface. Onna Gebowa, a hyperintelligent human woman who leaves home for the city of Hexos after being rejected from an all-male wizarding school, discovers the bodies and launches an investigation. Meanwhile, Tsira, a young half-troll travelling to Hexos to find herself, discovers Jeckran, a human soldier, wounded in the snow and doctors him back to health. As Onna and Tsira separately work to understand the attacks they've discovered, they are drawn into a larger search to uncover who is attempting to undermine the peace between species. Waggoner avoids playing into easy genre conventions with consistently surprising twists and intricate depictions of the specificities of troll and human culture in this world. Though the novel is slightly overlong, the whimsy, mystery, and vibrant characters of Waggoner's debut are sure to enchant readers.
Well developed characters in an amazing world caught up in an intriguing plot. So well done!