Thank you to Erewhon Books and Netgalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion in anyway.
Book: The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk
Release Date: October 13th 2020
Tags: Adult | Fantasy | Historical | Witches | Books | Romance
Other books by this author I reviewed
Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors come calling.
In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.
The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries—even for love—she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken?
I am a bit of a fan of C.L. Polk but unfortunately this feministic and witches historical story couldn’t quite wrap me around its fingers.
It certainly wasn’t the writing that left me wanting. As is per usual with C.L. Polk the writing works well for historical fiction, and has a certain sway to it that reads well.
However I never really got into the story. For under 400 pages it is frustratingly slow with little happenings. While I don’t generally mind slowness I do need to be curious and interested. But here it was obvious where it all was going.
The characters felt a bit flat in places. Beatrice never really got any of my sympathies. She was selfish in places and very focused on just one thing. She sometimes didn’t seem to care much about others. The love interest also didn’t quite fly off the page unfortunately. That with the slowness and predictable line of the story it was hard to sink in the story.
And yet there are some interesting bits about the story. There is feminism throughout the whole. Beatrice is set on changing the ways of magic use in the country, at least for herself at first. Women can’t really be sorceress as they are often required to wear a collar that will cut them off from their magic to protect their unborn children when they marry. Isn’t that how some still feel our society should function? Or how some men say they support feminism when in reality their rules just aren’t as strict. Can’t give up that control over women can you?
I also think the magic system of the bargaining with demons, and the grimoires and how they are to be found in second-hand bookstores, were truly interesting. Nadi, the demon that Beatrice bargained with was the most dynamic part of the story. I wish we could have gotten more of this. More demons. More dynamic.
In the end it was a decent story but I was expecting so much more from it.