Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the review copy in exchange for an honest review.
Book: Witchmark (Witchmark 1) by C.L. Polk
Release Date: June 19th
Tags: Fantasy / Magic / Adult / Veterans / Veteran Hospital / Battle Fatigue / Family / Poisoning / Trigger Warning / Emotional Abuse / Force / PTSD / Hospital Ward
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.
Witchmark is the first installment to a fantasy, clearly inspired by Edwardian England. While this book certainly has its flaws, I ended up falling for it very hard.
My falling hard for this book translated to reading it in one sitting. Luckily my toddler slept on and on and on during his nap but I’m not sure if I could have taken having to put this down during those last 100 pages. At that point there was just no stopping.
What I really liked about this book was the inclusion of the veterans and the clients that Miles had as a doctor at a veteran’s hospital. Not often do we really get to see what happens to veterans after a war. It was great to see this in a fantasy book. Battle fatigue, PTSD, delusions, they weren’t hidden away. These are realistic things, also for a fantasy world. I also think the struggles that were in the background at the hospital, funding being cut and being forced to send patients home to clear up beds, was very realistic.
Plot wise and world building wise is where it gets a bit shaky. I was very interested in seeing where the death of the poisoned patient was going to take them and how our Mr. Hunter was going to fit into everything, especially the fantasy aspect of it. This all was very well done and I was quite surprised at the end. However along the way there were tiny things that felt shaky.
Especially when it came to world building. It took me a long time to feel like I had any kind of grasp on what kind of magic system they had. It was in the latter half of the book and it just felt a bit too late. I could have used that information earlier on. Also there was a species introduced in the book, an apparent legend. I have no idea how they differ from the ones with magic or what he even can do. And at the end I still didn’t know except that he was gorgeous. This is something that really needs to be expanded on in the next book.
Miles, our main character, I took a liking to rather quickly. There is just something so endearing about him as a person, the way he cares for his patients or the way that our Mr. Hunter shakes him. Mr. Hunter himself could have used a bit more deepening to be honest, considering the romantic relationship with Miles. Even so I thought their relationship was the cutest thing.
Miles’ family are certainly a piece of work. I know a lot of reviews speak of a brother-sister relationship but this one is quite troubled throughout the book and for that reason I just can’t like his sister. So don’t have too high expectations of that relationship.
So this is certainly not a book without flaws. But it has its endearing and original elements that drew me in from the beginning.