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 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.
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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 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)
LibraryThing member kmartin802
This intriguing fantasy is set in a world powered by magic. Dr. Miles Singer is a psychiatrist who is dealing with the many soldiers who have returned from the war with Laneer with significant mental issues. They are claiming that something in their mind is commanding them to kill. Miles has a magic for healing that he has been successful in hiding. He can see this cloud in the mens's mind but he doesn't know what it is or what can be done about it.

One night, when he is outside for a smoke break, a man - Sir Tristan Hunter - comes up to him carrying a dying man. Nick Elliot is dying and claiming that he has been poisoned. To ease his mind, Miles promises to find his murderer and, in return, Nick gives Miles all of his magic when he dies. Tristan sees the secrets that Miles is hiding about his magic and begins by threatening him to expose it if Miles doesn't keep his promise to Nick. Tristan has quite a few secrets of his own and a task to complete in the eight days he has remaining before he must return home.

Investigating exposes Miles to the family he ran away from to become a doctor and dumps him right in the middle of the politics of the most powerful Mages in Aeland including his father and his sister Grace. Storm-Singers are the powerful mages who control the weather that keeps Aeland a perfect place to live. Only Storm-singer magic is valued. Miles with his healing ability was slated to be nothing more than a Secondary and act as a magical battery for his powerful sister.

I loved the world building in this story. I also loved the relationship that grew between Tristan and Miles. The characters were well-rounded and interesting people with all sorts of problems that they had to solve. The book was fast-paced and filled with mystery and intrigue.
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LibraryThing member NeedMoreShelves
I do love it when I land on a new fantasy series to become engrossed in, and the Kingston Cycle is definitely shaping up to be a good one. I'm enthralled with the magic system, wrapped up in the complicated relationships, and eager for the next book to land on my shelves. Definitely a recommendation for fantasy readers!… (more)
LibraryThing member Glennis.LeBlanc
This is an alternate history novella set around the time of WWI. There is a rich magic user class that protects version of England from bad weather. The Storm Singers link with less powerful magic users known as Secondaries. Miles left home and joined the army to become a doctor and use his healing gift instead of being bonded to his sister as a secondary. When a dying man shows up at the veteran’s hospital he is working as psychiatrist his world is turned upside down. Turns out his family did know he was there and they are bringing him back to the family business. Even as his sister has the best of intentions, things don’t go as planned. Miles is also trying to find out who poisoned the man that found him and figure out who is the bystander that helped the dying man to his door.

Digital review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley
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LibraryThing member HOTCHA
STARS, WHAT A GREAT AND INTERESTING BOOK! I felt sorry for Christopher by having to fake his death in order to be free of his family's control. Posed as doctor Miles Singer, he worked at the hospital as a psychiatrist to help returning soldiers coming from from the war where he could secretly use his powers to help the men. After 13 years of hiding, it only took one outing for his sister to discover that he was alive. THANK GOODNESS BOOK 2 IS COMING!… (more)


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Physical description

320 p.; 5.5 inches


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