by C. L. Polk

Other authorsWill Staehle (Cover artist), Justin Landon (Editor)
Paperback, 2018



Call number

PR9199.4 .P647


Tor.com (New York, 2018). 1st edition, 1st printing. 320 pages. $15.99.


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.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member dcoward
A fantastic first novel from C.L. Polk. I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a fantasy book this much. There is magic, danger, a mystery, political intrigue, and romance. I am also pleased to report, that while I would happily read more about these characters and this world, the novel did NOT end on a cliff hanger.
LibraryThing member Nadishka
This was on my want-to-read list for months, and I finally got down to buying it. It was fast paced. The story plunges you into a murder mystery from the very first chapter. The book is about power: both metaphorical and literal. We follow in the footsteps of Miles who is in hiding at the beginning of the story. He is a psychiatrist, and also a witch. There are many mysteries that unfold as you go through the book. This makes the plot complex - too much so and at times I was confused. The social structure was rather difficult to understand and the backstories and explanations were few and far between. However, if you do read until the end all the threads fall into place in a spectacular, explosive finale.
I did not know it was categorized under LGBT when I started reading it, so the relationship between Miles and Tristan was a surprise.
There was also very little humour or wit - which I felt was lacking.
Nevertheless, I must admit this is a gripping tale and I look forward to the next installment.
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LibraryThing member ladycato
A highly enjoyable read, and fully deserving of its Nebula finalist status. Witchmark creates a fresh secondary world with an Edwardian flavor, wherein a nobleman abandoned the high life to serve as a soldier and practice his healing magic in a way forbidden by society. When a mysterious man drags a poisoned fellow into the beleaguered hospital where he works, his carefully-constructed yet lonely life begins to fall apart. There's a conspiracy afoot that stretches from the tormented veterans in his care to the most powerful people in the land--his family.

The world-building is deep and perfectly paced. This is a world both familiar and strange, and that freshness made it a source of constant fascination. Plus, the characters are fantastic. As someone who loves healer characters, and has included them in numerous of my own books, that angle particularly appealed to me. This book incorporates inclusiveness in a gentle, natural way, and the slowly-building romance between the two male leads feels genuine. No insta-love here. The issue of consent and power in the relationship is especially well-handled.

I'm glad this is the first book in the series. This a world with people I would love to spend more time with.
… (more)
LibraryThing member rivkat
In an alt-England powered by aether and in which the nobility are secretly magicians and witches are imprisoned as mad, Miles Singer ran away from his noble family to avoid being bound—enslaved—to his more weather-talented sister. Now a battle-weary psychiatrist treating soldiers home from alt-WWI, he’s trying to investigate the mysterious illness that is driving many of them to murder while hiding his magical status. Then a man dies in his arms, charging him with investigating a secret, and also a stranger who knows he’s a witch approaches him, offering even more danger. There’s a lot going on here, and I would’ve appreciated a bit more on the effects of the torture Singer himself suffered, but it plays very well on the fact that some people will enslave their own family members when it serves their interests—even if some of them feel bad about that—and there’s a nice m/m romance as well.… (more)


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Physical description

320 p.; 5.5 inches


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