Cover Image: Stormsong

Stormsong

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Member Reviews

It's not very often that I love a second book in the series more than I loved the first one but, you know what, I think it's just happened.

In Witchmark, we had Miles and Tristan's story. I remember vividly feeling as though, regardless that the plot was strong and amazing, the romance between the two of them fell short.

There are storms coming. Huge ones, that could spell a great deal of trouble for the people of Aeland. At the same time, the witches who could help are being put away for life sentences in prison due to an outdated and incredibly hypocritical "Witches Protection Act". And, at the same time as that, Mile's sister Grace is trying desperately hard to stay in her father's incredibly big shoes after he has been incarcerated after the events of the last book.

Despite all of that going on, I felt as though the romance between Grace, and reporter Avia, and the plot were much more equally given their time and space.

Something that I found intriguing was just how relevant to current events in our world this alternate historical fantasy managed to be. While they had wild storms, we have severe climate changes. While they had the Witches Protection Act, we have various discriminatory laws across different countries saying who is and isn't allowed to exist and what areas they are allowed to be in.

It was just an incredibly insightful book and I can't wait to see what the author has coming from her sleeve next.
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I loved Witchmark, and Stormsong was a worthy follow up. Slipping in to Polk's world is so effortless, the complexities in the plot are never jarring, even when they're surprising. Her writing is evocative and her characters complex and interesting. I really loved this duology, and I do hope we'll be able to return to this world in the future.
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4 stars

You can read all of my reviews at https://nerdgirllovesbooks.com/.

This is the second book in the Kingston Cycle series. I loved the first book, Witchmark, and was very excited when I was given the opportunity to read and review this one. (You can read my review for here: https://nerdgirllovesbooks.com/2018/0....

The first book focused on Miles who is a witch. He was fated to be enslaved by the interests of his family or committed to a witch asylum, so he faked his death, joined the army, and became a doctor. He was sent to war and came back greatly changed. During the first book, he eventually reconciled with his sister, Dame Grace Hensley. They worked together to end an atrocity her nation was perpetuating. This book begins shortly after the events of the first book.

This book is told from Grace's perspective, and focuses on her efforts to heal her nation and guide it through the disaster of losing power. It's winter and huge storms are on the horizon. Her father and a group of first mages are locked up, and the other mages are all jockeying for power. This, in addition to a hostile and prickly queen and her father's meddling, puts her position of authority on shaky grounds. Add to that Avia Jessup, a gorgeous, nosy and persistent reporter who is intent on getting to the bottom of the story of how the power went out, and Grace is barely keeping it all together.

This book is just as well-written as the first book and I enjoyed it, but I didn't like Grace's storyline as much as I liked Miles' in the first book. After how cold she was in the first book, it was hard to warm up to Grace and believe that she had changed so significantly. I liked Grace's interactions with Avia, however, and enjoyed reading how she resolved her struggle to keep Avia at a distance while being attracted to her.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I think the main reason why I didn't like it as much as the first book is because I really like Miles and his boyfriend and wanted to read more about them. They only play a small role in this book, which was disappointing to me. This is a very small irritant, however, and I still highly recommend you read this book. I am not sure if there are more books planned in this series or not. The ending is such that it could go either way. I hope there are more books, and if so, will definitely read them.

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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3.5

I must admit that I didn't love this as much as Witchmark. It was still enjoyable, mind you, but not as good IMO. The reasons being that it ended quite abruptly—with a lot still in the air (pending you don't simply assume everything will work out as planned, nothing else has)—and I didn't feel the romance AT ALL.

The problem with the romance was that though you know in advance who the romantic interest is (it's in the blurb), for half the book any affections she showed Grace felt like manipulation to get a story. I didn't believe for a moment a woman as astute as Grace would see all the touching and soft words as anything else, given their limited acquaintance and the circumstances. What's more, when later Grace makes decisions, stating they are to be with Jess, it feels like a leap. She wants to be like Jess, her brother, and  Tristan. She likes who she is with them. But that's not the same as being in love with someone, especially since it's not limited to one person. So, I didn't make the connection to love, be it romantic or otherwise. All of which left me pretty cold on the romance front. I liked them both, but I didn't feel a romance bloomed between them. 

All in all, however, I'd be happy to read more in there series (if there is any) and certainly more of Polk's writing.
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Taking place literally two weeks after the absolutely stunning conclusion of Witchmark, Stormsong pops into the head of Grace, Miles’ really annoying and completely indoctrinated into the system of systematic magical prejudice—and, coincidentally, the Voice interim.

Grace was by far my least favorite character in Witchmark, mostly because she accurately ticked off every single Rich, Passingly Progressive White Woman Trope that ever walked the planet, and how despite having her nose rubbed into her prejudices she never really…got it. Not even at the end, when she helped Miles destroy everything. It was more save my brother than oh shit this is really bad this needs to be dismantled pronto.

So stepping into her POV wasn’t exactly something I wanted to do. But, I loved, loved, loved Witchmark, so into this book I went.

This isn’t a bad book—I gave it four stars for a reason that wasn’t purely sentimental—but it wasn’t as polished as Witchmark.

Grace is operating at the highest levels of society, and is forced to navigate both her actions in the literal undoing of the slavery that kept her country together (mild spoiler: Aeland’s prosperity is built upon the enslavement of witches) and keeping her people safe from an onslaught of politics and blizzards.

So the basic premise is…How do you solve an impossible problem when you are deeply complicit in its existence?

Grace’s eyes are (slowly) opened to the real horrors of the lower classes and the frustrations of her peers, as she has been isolated and inculcated into Aeland’s system for her entire life.

She is the perfect product of the system of prejudice and class structure.

And she’s finally realized that, wow, that might not be a good thing.

So anywho, Grace goes through the entire book trying to do what is right while lacking the tools to listen, act and correct. In addition to dismantling the system that has kept Aeland running for centuries, she also has to dismantle the hellscape of her own preconceptions.

Luckily, journalist and former-socialite Ava Jessup is there to open her eyes, and the two have a bit of chemistry throughout.

Plus there’s a plot of the Amaranthines (the elf-people Tristan belongs to) coming into Aeland to pass judgement upon Aeland’s many transgressions (of which invading a peaceful country for its resources and enslaving its own people are just the tip of the iceburg), to a plot to overthrow the obstinate queen in place of her impetuous son, to a mutiny among the outer rings of mages who are now in charge because their mommies and daddies are locked up to…everything else.

Anywho, while I related to Grace a lot (she was isolated from her peers by her father, who groomed her to take over his position but neglected to give her the opportunity to actually…cultivate working relationships with her age mates), I was frustrated by her total naivety.

This is a woman who was groomed from birth to assume the highest ranks of political and magical power, and while she’s very good at the technical details, she flounders at all social aspects and fails to really see what is happening outside her ivory tower. Yes, there’s a lot of growth and breaking down of mental barriers, but it was still hard to read, mainly because I wanted it to go faster.

And because it takes a lot of learning to realize that true healing takes time, it takes attentive consideration, and deep-rooted issues cannot be changed by throwing money at it (*side-eyeing Grace of Witchmark*). And within that learning and dismantling of ingrained prejudice is a lot of backsliding, because when the entire system around you stymies your growth, it’s hard to grow.

And also because I did not want the book to end like it did.

In a Sopranos-like twist, it ends mid-scene, with so much that needs to be resolved and wrapped up. It needed another solid 100 pages to finish fully, and instead it ended with the romance at the high point, where the romance had been taking a quiet seat at the back of the bus for most of the book (okay, there were quite a few times where Grace threw herself into precarious positions to protect Ava by using her political and societal wealth, but still).

So Stormsong is a solid 4.5 stars, docked .5 for its ending.

I need more!

I received an ARC of Stormsong from NetGalley for an honest review.
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A gorgeous follow-up to Polk's Witchmark that expands our view of the world, Stormsong was incredibly satisfying, and worth the wait. I loved how Polk gave readers a different perspective on the same world when she shifted from Miles as narrator to his sister Grace. Miles brought the perspective of someone who had rejected aristocracy, but Grace is still part of the aristocracy, and trying to change it from within. 

One of the reasons that I loved Witchmark was that it was smart and attentive about political power -- and so I think that Polk is making exactly the right choice in trying to show us how people in different positions of power see it differently.  And the main plot helps to push our awareness of how power works (and doesn't work!) in different ways.

The only thing that I wish had been more developed was Grace's relationship with Avia Jessup -- not because it wasn't compelling, but just because we didn't see nearly as much of it as I would have liked, and I wanted more! But I will eagerly await the final book in what I understand to be a trilogy.
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Wait…where’s the rest??

Stormsong is the sequel to Witchmark and follows Miles’ younger sister, Dame Fiona Grace Hensley. Her father and the rest of the First Ring of storm-singers are imprisoned in the Tower of Sighs while the Blessed Ones, Amarinthines, are trying to learn the truth of aether and the war against Laneer. There is a lot of political machinations at work, and reporter Avia Jessup is quick with her camera to catch the byline and reveal the truth of the Hundred Familes.

Stormsong picks up right after the ending of Witchmark and was just as engaging and intriguing. I love the world of Kingston and Grace is a truly interesting character between her quick mind and the personal growth she is going through. She’s always been happy to satisfy her father and fulfill his dreams for her, but after reconnecting with Miles and seeing him making his own choices, his own path, she starts to truly question her father and his motives. In some ways this is slow going for Grace but she makes the decision to try to be her own woman and be who she sees she could be when around Miles, Tristan, and especially Avia.

I really loved the romance and hope there will be more from Grace or Avia’s perspective, especially because so many changes are in motion! The world is changing, and Grace is many ways a catalyst to the upcoming changes. Kingston is on a precipice and I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to see how things are going to play out!
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I read that the author decided that since Miles had been badly injured and needed time to heal, she decided to make his sister Grace the POV character of this book. I didn't care much for Grace in the first book and disliked her even more in this one. Maybe by the end of the book she improved, but more than halfway in I was annoyed enough that I decided to skim.

Grace is placed in a prominent political position in this book and has the problems to go with it. First, without secretly imprisoned witches being used to control the weather, the weather is... out of control. Next, the political problem of exactly how to deal with these freed witches- people are going to be upset about their loved ones being imprisoned! Next, the main power source-aether- is now defunct, what with the witches being freed and all, and people are cold, afraid and upset because they don't understand what's going on. Also, there's an Amarathine delegation which has arrived to sit in judgement of Aeland and they are NOT happy. And then there's the Laneeri delegation that had planned to cause riots and mass murder in Aeland, now under arrest. So much to do!

And Grace doesn't have much idea how to handle any of it. She's got no allies other than her badly injured brother Miles, whom she promptly presses into service because he can speak Laneeri and she needs information from the prisoners. There's one strike against her. Second strike- although Grace has been raised to be a political creature, she somehow has managed to grow up without any allies among the aristocratic witches that she is nominally in charge of, and she's in a position of weakness there. Third strike- Grace is one of the most disingenuous characters I've ever read. No sooner does she think "I'll never dragoon my hurt brother into helping interrogate prisoners AFTER HE WAS A PRISONER OF WAR HIMSELF" then she's wheedling and hinting around that she could really use some help, oh what should she do; in Mile's room. Grace isn't honest with herself, much less anyone else, what her goals are and what she will do to achieve them.

Also, she starts a romance with Avia, the reporter from the first book. Avia makes her first appearance in this book basically being a papparazza and taking pictures of the Amaranthines without their permission, knowing she'll probably piss them off. Grace sees Avia as a braver version of herself, since Avia was an aristocrat who was kicked out of her family. Avia sees Grace as all she has lost. I wasn't really convinced by their feelings for each other.

So, there are a lot of problems to unravel and frankly I felt like Grace was not equal to it, didn't even see half of what was going on in front of her. Maybe by the end of the book it got better? But halfway through the book I couldn't agree with any of her decisions and I quit.
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While lacking the magic and mystery of Witchmark, Stormsong advances the story of Aeland and the Hensleys sufficiently to inspire readers to pick up the next book.  The POV change from Miles to Grace may be jarring for some readers.  Though Grace is compelling and strong female narrator, readers may remain invested in Miles’ story, particularly his relationship with Tristan which is only explored superficially in this story.  Additionally, the mystery at the heart of Stormsong lacks the gravity of Witchmark’s exposure of the aether network’s true nature and often reads less as fantasy and more as a conventional story of political maneuverings.  Ultimately, the success of the series will depend on the resolutions provided in the next book.  Luckily, both Miles and Grace are characters readers will root for and will likely want to revisit.
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Grace is a very powerful woman in a country where the impetus for change is coming from the outside pressure of magical beings - change that requires a total technological transformation away from energy powered by souls. As such, she's in a different position re: the power structure than her brother, the protagonist of the previous book. Much of the book is focused on her balancing and negotiating the politics of different groups, while also trying to make changes. Like Avia, the photojournalist who pushes Grace to disclose more to the public and to enact sweeping reforms, I occasionally found Grace frustrating. However, Polk excels at making very relatable characters - flawed but not anti-heroes. The balance of politics, magic, and the f/f romance (as well as the appearance of favorite characters from the previous book) was impeccable, creating a very entertaining read.
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Stormsong by C. L. Polk lived up to Witchmark in many ways. I absolutely loved Witchmark; it’s an adorable fantasy murder mystery with a strong romance subplot woven into the narrative. The chemistry between Miles and Tristan was great, the setting was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed the murder mystery itself to boot!

I loved the romantic aspects, and I especially loved Grace’s romantic partner, Avia Jessup. However, I have one major gripe that overshadowed the whole experience for me: Grace never once had to truly face any consequences or earn redemption for her horrible actions in Witchmark. It was incredibly jarring seeing everyone pretend as though her actions had unilaterally been above-board. In fact, she’s lauded by the Amaranthians as a savior for having assisted in breaking the aether network. Although she makes a few one-off observations to herself about her past actions and reflecting on how awful they were, she ultimately never has to earn her redemption.

“He deserves all the credit for doing the right thing and staying the Amaranthines’ wrath. He was the one who acted. I just helped.”

“Did you hesitate to help him?”

I shrugged. “No. He was right.”

“Then you deserve credit too. Many people wouldn’t have moved to do the right thing so quickly. But you made the hard choice, for the good of Aeland.”

His approval warmed my cheeks. “Thank you, Your High—Severin.”


If Grace’s upbringing had been explored in slightly more depth, I think that these issues could have been avoided. It’s clear that her relationship with her father was toxic at best and abusive at worst. These are all things that truly would excuse her behavior, if they had been fleshed out into a proper theme and something that was examined critically as part of the text. While I suspect that Polk wanted to avoid going too far down the trauma hole, it ultimately resulted in a character who fell flat and never seemed to face any consequences.

I frequently found myself wishing that it were Avia rather than Grace who was the primary point of view character. Avia was more interesting and more compelling in nearly every way. She sacrificed a life of luxury, spurning her wealthy father, in order to pursue a career as a journalist. She’s dedicated to uncovering the truth behind the destruction of the aether network, and she knows that Grace is involved. As she grows closer to Grace, she challenges Grace’s privileged upbringing and preestablished notions of how normal people live – though she unfortunately doesn’t challenge Grace’s previous actions towards Miles. She was an incredibly engaging character, who I would have liked to see more of.

The murder mystery and politics of the book were slightly less engaging compared to Witchmark (perhaps the lack of bicycle chases?), but nevertheless were still intriguing to read through. It was interesting to see how the Aeland government and the Amaranthians interacted, which is something I’d been looking forward to for some time. Miles and Tristan play their part, of course, though Miles is still weakened after having destroyed the aether network. I was hoping for a few more cute moments between the two of them, but unfortunately it didn’t get much love.

All in all, it was an enjoyable read… but it just didn’t quite hit home for me. Grace as a protagonist simply didn’t work well, even if I did love Avia.
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I was really excited to read this book, as I enjoyed Witchmark a whole lot, but unfortunately the file is unreadable.
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STORMSONG blew me away, y’all.

Polk shifts her focus to politics as Grace, who often horrified me in WITCHMARK, deals with such topical issues as government corruption, ethical power sources, climate change, and persecution along class lines. It’s an enormously complicated situation, and Polk handles it well—all while exploring how tackling these problems impacts Grace’s worldview.

STORMSONG is about social evolution and honest engagement. When Grace changes her mind, it’s because she’s made an effort to go out and see what everyone’s taking about, and because she recognizes how her burgeoning relationships with a wider group of people help her go beyond her own borders. She doesn’t like or accept every idea she hears, but she listens and considers and acts with her country’s best interests at heart.

She’s also moved to evaluate what SHE wants, as a person vs as a politician, and how that does or doesn’t mesh with her public role. It’s lovely and affecting.

And Polk wraps all this character development up in tasty worldbuilding that delights in the little things even as it interrogates the ways Aeland could be better. Colour me happy.

I’m beyond eager for the next book. I want to spend tons more time in this world, with these characters.
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This review was originally posted on  Books of My Heart
 

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
 
I am continuing with the Witchmark  series which I started because of the gorgeous cover.  I love the covers and the magics in this world.  Miles and Grace are wonderful characters and have come to see the world outside of their father's purview.

This is a unique sort of fantasy, which feels historical, maybe steampunk.  Each kingdom has its own sorts of magics and there is fighting between kingdoms. There is also definitely a class system. ugh.  There always some greedy bastards who not only have to be in charge of a kingdom and take everything for themselves while making others work hard but then they also want to take over more land and workers.

Witchmark was the story of Miles. I really loved him and his compassion. He's a doctor who fought in the war and then treated soldiers.  He and his sister, Grace, fought together to stop the enslavement of others.

Now in Stormstong, we begin with Grace in prison for that fight. She is quickly released as she is talented with weather magic  and she is needed.  She serves the Queen and tries so hard to do what is right for Aeland, but it is so difficult. Everyone wants to control her. She is very knowledgeable about the players but still has some tricky moments with traps laid for her.  There is a lot more history revealed.

This is an urban fantasy although each story has the start of a new romance.  You do need to read these in order to keep track of the politics and battles and the characters in power.  I confess I had trouble starting to read partly because it has been a bit since I read the first but also because the ARC was oddly paged with some garbage characters in it and some words with odd spaces in them, so it took me awhile to settle into reading.

I really enjoyed the political maneuvering of the characters. I did guess at the villain early because he was not a nice guy overall. Grace was such a humble and tireless servant for her country and its people.  She was brutally honest while working for palatable solutions for various groups.  Grace, with the support of Miles and Tristan, was amazing.   I hope there is more in this world but there aren't any more siblings.
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I received an advance copy via NetGalley.

I greatly enjoyed Witchmark last year when I read it as a Nebula finalist. I was quite curious about how the sequel would play out. Polk established a fascinating, original world of powerful magic, devastating storms, and snarled, vicious political power plays. The setting is quite Victorian in inspiration (but not steampunk). The magic, I really loved. Weather magic has been used in other books, but this take feels new. The queer rep is fantastic, too. Diversity shines here.

To my surprise, though, I had a hard time getting into Stormsong. The refreshers about previous events weren't quite enough, leaving me lost for a good while, and the plot cranked up so slowly that I wondered if I should stop completely. The perspective had shifted in this book to Grace, the politically-savvy sister of Miles. I enjoyed her character but things just couldn't get going. Fortunately, I pressed on, and I'm glad I did. Things really picked up halfway through, and the last bit zoomed along, complete with a fantastic ending. As with the first book, the twisty-turny plot is brightened by a deftly-handled romance. 

While not as consistently enthralling as the first book, Stormsong absolutely came through in the end.
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Stormsong continues directly where Witchmark left off. The witch Miles, his fae lover Tristan, and his sister Grace have successfully ended the inhumane practice of using souls to power the country of Aeland's energy. However, this has plunged the country into darkness and unproductivity-- commoners' jobs are at a standstill, prices have skyrocketed, and the ghosts of the freed souls roam the land. Dangerous storms are blanketing the county in snow and runing crops, the Aelander government is in turmoil, the commonfolk are organizing and protesting, and the fae court have descended upon humanity to invoke justice. It's up to Grace, as newly appointed Chancellor, to help nudge Aeland into a new era, one of transparency and equality. But the wealthy and powerful upper class isn't going to relinquish their way of life so easily.

The plot of Stormsong is good, if a bit predictable. Themes of anti-capitalism, anti-corruption, and freedom of the press are strong. There's an f/f romance between Grace and a tenacious journalist, though it wasn't actually very romantic-- compared to Witchmark, which had a very adorable if somewhat insta-lovey m/m romance, the romance here is very dry. There is SO MUCH plot happening in this book, but it kind of whizzes by without leaving the reader any time to sink into it. Grace is being pulled in a thousand different directions throughout the story, which results in the reader being pulled in all those directions as well. Sometimes things happened so quickly, with characters jumping to conclusions or doing things without narrative explanation, I got whiplash. The story ends abruptly in a very weird spot, and I really hope there'll be another sequel because everything is far from resolved.

Overall, I didn't enjoy Stormsong as much as I did it's precursor, but it was still a fun read with an interesting plot and story themes. I liked getting glimpses into Miles and Tristan's relationship post-Witchmark. I will be glad to continue with any further books in the series.
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I absolutely loved C. L. Polk’s Witchmark, and while in my opinion this one doesn’t have quite the same magic, I still liked it.

One reason this novel didn’t grab me in quite the same way as the first is that I didn’t find Grace as compelling a main character as her brother Miles. Grace hasn’t suffered in the same way Miles has, and consequently, she doesn’t have as much depth. Grace is essentially a rich girl who develops a conscience when confronted with the suffering of others, and that’s a character I’ve seen before. The only difference between her and similar heroines in other books is that she’s more politically astute than most.

It also took a while for me to get invested in the story. Magic still plays a role, but a lot of the plot centers around political and diplomatic intrigue, as Grace steps into her father’s role as chancellor and then tries to figure out how to keep her country from disaster as she deals with the competing demands of the royal family, the Amaranthines, and the common people, especially those affected by the laws targeting witches. The stakes ratchet up as the story goes along, and I did get fully caught up in the action eventually, after a bit of a slow start.

I don’t want to give the impression I didn’t like the book, because that’s not the case. Once the story got moving, I liked the way the events unfolded. Miles and Tristan both play a part in the action, and I enjoyed getting to see them again. The book also has a nice romantic subplot, with Grace falling for maybe the worst possible choice for someone in her position, an investigative journalist named Avia.

I had really high expectations going in, and while they weren’t entirely met, I’d say this novel is still a good choice for readers of fantasy and especially fans of the previous book in the series.

A copy of this book was provided by NetGalley for review; all opinions expressed are my own
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This is the second book of the Kingston Trilogy and make no mistake, it needs to be read after Witchmark. We're thrown directly into the story and it took me a while to remember exactly where we left off.

The good:

- The story is a redemption arc of sorts for Grace. A bunch of people weren't happy with what she did in book one, but here she realizes the part she played and what she can do to make up for it.
	
- There's an interesting meta conversation about affecting change in society. Do you try to make the change gradually from within using the established political framework, or do you try for radical change from without? Is one always better than the other, or do they each have their moment?
	
- Realize going in that the book is mostly politics - it's well done, but a lot of action is replaced by talking.
	
- Yeaaaa for a book with an f/f romance! I love it when a series mixes up pairings (Witchmark is m/m).

The not-so-good:

- The romance element is severely underplayed, and while there's a suspicious death the murder mystery also gets pushed to the side.
	
- The book feels like half a story, leaving off in a weird place without much closure. If that sort of thing bothers you maybe wait for book three to come out and read them as a pair.

I'm still invested in this world so I'll continue on, but I'm not as excited as I was after finishing the first book. Still looking forward to what Polk does next, though.
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Stormsong is the sequel to author C.L. Polk’s outstanding debut novel, Witchmark, a book that impressed me so immensely it ended up being one of my favorite reads of 2018. Thus, the two most pressing questions I had going into this novel were, one, would Stormsong live up to the excellence of Witchmark, and two, would Grace live up to her name. The answer to both is an emphatic yes.

The country of Aeland is facing a climate crisis as well as being in desperate need of an alternative energy source to fuel its economy, restore electricity and its communications network, and get its citizens back to work. The cause of Aeland’s downfall, the results of it not entirely unlike the Great Depression in some ways, ties directly into events that transpired at the end of book one, which makes it imperative, in my opinion, not to attempt to read this book as a standalone. The world building in Witchmark is one of its hallmarks, and that carries over to this book as well. I love the magic and spellcraft which ties into what was its gaslamp/steampunk style setting before the collapse, not to mention its supernatural elements, but what’s even more fascinating—or, perhaps disturbing—about the deterioration of Aeland’s technological advancements, which have been devastated by the rightful destruction of its power source, is the question of the greater good versus the end justifying the means. In this case, there is no gray area, and the risk to life and limb Grace’s brother, Dr. Miles Singer, took to destroy the aether network was not only justified, it was morally imperative.

There is a line of demarcation between the privileged and the working class that Grace is coming to recognize in her newly appointed role as Chancellor and the Voice of the queen. To put a finer point on it, Grace is seeing, firsthand, the bias inherent in a system which protects her but criminalizes other witches and dictates they go into hiding to avoid imprisonment. Fear mongering has been key to sublimating witches, instigating the Witch Protection Act, and Grace comes to see the exploitation in it and commits to right the wrong of it through compassion and strategic political maneuvering. The question is, when the truth emerges from the darkness of corruption and greed, what will become of a society whose queen has secrets of her own which have fueled her every move and decision? There is a revolution afoot, enlisting not only Grace’s aid but that of the Amaranthines (this realm’s version of the Fae). And Grace’s imprisoned father, a despicable and power-hungry man, may or may not have his hands in all of it.

This is where journalist Avia Jessup comes in. Her friend, and fellow journalist, Nick Elliot was murdered, and his death is the reason Miles and his lover Sir Tristan Hunter, an Amaranthine himself, were brought together in book one. Avia is in possession of Nick’s collection of notes and discoveries he made during his investigation of Aeland Power and Lights, and its government ties—he died because he was on the trail of something explosive and corrupt—which places Avia in the middle of all the danger and intrigue on the political landscape, and emphasizes her personal and journalistic integrity in the fight for the greater good. Something she fought hard for and left her own wealthy family to achieve. Something that earns Grace’s deepest respect and admiration, but which is not a clear-cut path to their romance.

And, of course, it all becomes moot if the Storm-singers fail to stop a powerful blizzard the likes of which means certain ruination and death to those in its path.

There is a corresponding murder mystery that aligns with political underpinnings which emphasizes not only the danger Grace and Avia find themselves in, but it threatens to undermine Grace’s goal of distancing herself from her father—the man who molded Grace in his image but did not succeed in making her his clone. He may have had a hand in her education and inspired in her a gift for political strategy, but Grace is fighting to become her own woman, to be more than, better than, just another cog in a corrupt system. Her proximity to Avia in their joint efforts to expose the truth breeds familiarity, and in Grace it breeds an empathy that makes her yearn for Avia’s respect. Misunderstandings and machinations from an outside force threaten to derail them before they even get started, though, and the peak of the action is inspired by events that affect Avia in dangerous ways.

Snakes in the grass, keep your friends close and your enemies closer, murder, theft and a coverup, the mystery within the mystery—C.L. Polk handles it all with such a deft and talented hand. I was every single bit as absorbed in and impressed by this book as by the first. Polk is a nimble storyteller, drawing bits and pieces from various characters, situations, and sources, and composing them into a whole cloth of conspiracy, internal affairs, betrayal, corruption, danger, and she’s not quite done weaving it all together yet. The storm is still threatening, Grace and Miles’s father lives to taint and corrupt another day, and there are witches yet to liberate. Polk offers a sweet and sincere romance to her readers as well, amongst all the corresponding storylines. While the budding relationship between Grace and Avia doesn’t overshadow the more critical machinations and issues facing them and Aeland as a whole, their happy start is not left in doubt, and I look forward to seeing them, along with Miles and Tristan, again in their continuing adventures.
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My favorite book of 2018 was Witchmark by C.L. Polk and the first thing I did after finishing it was look up if there was going to be more books in the series. That being said, I feel like I have been waiting 84 years for this sequel instead of the year and half it's been. It was totally worth the wait!

Going into this book I wasn't sure I was going to like it. I didn't hate Grace at the end of Witchmark but I didn't love her either. She has a lot to make up for with how she treated her brother but she made a lot of headway with helping Miles and Tristan disable the aether network. I'm so happy that I can say loved Stormsong almost just as much as I did Witchmark. They are two very different books but they are perfect foils for each other and they just make you want more from this series.

While Witchmark focused more on the magic and the people of Aeland, Stormsong concentrates more on the politics and could be classified as a magical political thriller. The whole book is wonderfully thrilling, terribly romantic, and more than a bit magical. I loved that it is written from Grace’s perspective. It helps us to understand why she did some of the things she did in the first book and it lets us see a different side of Aeland. As much as I love Miles, we saw only a very small portion of Aeland from his point of view and that was mostly the soldiers he was treating and the lower social classes. He doesn’t have to think or deal with the political ramifications of his actions, while Grace does. She is always thinking about what affect her actions will have on her political career and how they could better help her country.

I didn't think it was possible for me to fall in love with Grace but C.L. Polk made me fall head over heels for her in this book. Grace is an exceedingly competent mage and political leader who is more than a bit unsure of her place and what she wants out of life and more than a little lonely. This book was a political thriller but it was also a book about relationships and becoming the person you want to be. 

At the first of this book, Grace doesn't know who she wants to be. All she knows is what she's been groomed to be and what she's expected to do to uphold the family legacy. It's also a book about her relationships. Mainly the relationships with her father, Miles, her Queen, and Avia. I loved the amount of Miles and Tristan in this story and how much we got to learn about them through Grace's eyes! But her relationship with Miles is still developing and changing from what it was before Miles ran off to join the army. Her relationships with her father and the royal family are complex and I loved how C.L. Polk approached both of them.

As for the relationship with Avia, I adored the romance between the two! Like everything in this book, it was almost the complete opposite of the romance between Miles and Tristan. While theirs was a slow-burn between two strangers who met and then fell in love, Avia and Grace have known each other for a long time even if they weren't friends. They ran in the same social circles until Avia was tossed out and disowned by her father. The mutual attraction between the two was always there, but neither ever acted on it. I loved watching them come together despite several events and secrets that tried to keep them apart!

I wholeheartedly loved this book and already know it's going to be one of my top ten books of the year. My one and only complaint is that the ending is a bit abrupt. It ends on kind of a cliffhanger in the middle of the action and I just need more! Not all of the loose ends are tied up and things have been setup for a third book which hasn't been announced to my knowledge but which I am now dying to get my hands on. I really really need there to be a third book because if the series ends like that with no other books I will riot. I'm hoping C.L. Polk will pull a Rainbow Rowell and announce the third book around when Stormsong releases. For now, I’m going to be preparing myself for another long wait in between books.
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