Friday Review: The Raven Spell (Conspiracy of Magic #1) by Luanne G. Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Edwina and Mary are sisters. living in an alternate Victorian London where they sell odds and ends they collect on nightly walks along the riverbank. They are also witches, and their whole lives have revolved around trying to keep that part secret. They and their father would move from town to town as the sisters’ peculiarities became more noticed. Father is now dead, and the girls have settled into their life in London, staying under the notice of almost everyone. They are able to keep their magic secret, except for Mary’s fascination with collecting the memories of the dying, which she stores in colored orbs. When she collects the memories of a wounded private investigator who does not die, he is drawn to the sisters without knowing why. In trying to return his memories, Edwina gets herself involved in the investigation which leads to a serial killer and more secrets about Mary than Edwina may be willing to accept.

This alternate world fantasy had some interesting elements. The idea of capturing the memories of the dying in a gemstone-like orb and collecting the orbs was kind of different. The serial killer element, while not new, had a twist or two that kept it from becoming overly stale. The three main characters could have perhaps been a bit more rounded, but they were still interesting. Some of the secondary characters were a bit flat, and could have been drawn out more. The Victorian London setting is familiar to this type of fantasy, so worldbuilding was confined more to the magical aspect of the story rather than the city itself. There was a hint of romance but it wasn’t a driving plot point. Edwina’s desire to protect Mary and keep the rest of the world from knowing her powers was believable, as was the realization that even she didn’t know her sister as well as she thought and protecting Mary might not be the best thing for anyone.

This wasn’t an action-filled adventure sort of alternate world fantasy. The plot moves forward like the missing person investigation- one suspect and interview at a time. There are places where there is some action and the pace picks up, but they are not the focus of the story. Still, the writing is good and readable, and the pace isn’t so slow it drags.

I enjoyed the book. Fans of alternate history fantasy with family secrets, murder mystery, and a bit of romance should enjoy it.

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“Crossed Wires and Other Very Short Stories”. Twelve scifi and twelve fantasy short stories that can each be read in minutes. Available now Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and most other e-book retailers. More information here

I have written science fiction, fantasy, and urban fantasy stories. There are novels, novellas, and shorter pieces to fit everyone’s reading time. There are even some free stories, both here on the site and in other places. You can go here to find out more about the books I have published. They are available at Amazon, Smashwords, and most ebook retailers. Thank You

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