Review of “Stormsong” (The Kingston Cycle #2) by C.L. Polk

Polk, C.L. Stormsong. New York: Tor.com, 2020. 

ISBN-13: 978-0765398994 | $17.99 USD | 345 pages | Fantasy

Blurb

After spinning an enthralling world in Witchmark, praised as a “can’t-miss debut” by Booklist, and as “thoroughly charming and deftly paced” by the New York Times, C. L. Polk continues the story in Stormsong. Magical cabals, otherworldly avengers, and impossible love affairs conspire to create a book that refuses to be put down.

Dame Grace Hensley helped her brother Miles undo the atrocity that stained her nation, but now she has to deal with the consequences. With the power out in the dead of winter and an uncontrollable sequence of winter storms on the horizon, Aeland faces disaster. Grace has the vision to guide her parents to safety, but a hostile queen and a ring of rogue mages stand in the way of her plans. There’s revolution in the air, and any spark could light the powder. What’s worse, upstart photojournalist Avia Jessup draws ever closer to secrets that could topple the nation, and closer to Grace’s heart.

Can Aeland be saved without bloodshed? Or will Kingston die in flames, and Grace along with it?

In the series 

#1 Witchmark 

Review

4 stars

After the hype of Witchmark and the divide among readers about the change in protagonist for this book, Stormsong (before it was even finished!), I anticipated this book, as while I didn’t know what to think about Grace yet, I had trust in C.L. Polk’s ability to make her an endearing heroine. 

And indeed she does. One of the big issues with her as a character in the first book is her lack of awareness of her own privilege, and while she takes time to grow into greater awareness here, and in the meantime, take on such an active role in the political machinations going on around her. I grew to understand how she was indoctrinated into being what she was, and appreciated how she addressed it. 

With the stronger focus on politics, the romance aspect, the bit I was most looking forward to due to it being f/f, is more of a subplot, and while those aspects are sweet, I definitely wanted more. And while I was fine with Miles and Tristan being secondary characters in this one, I did feel like they were sidelined a bit too much. 

I did still enjoy this one due to Grace’s journey, even if it’s not as good as the first book. However, I’m still ridiculously excited for the next book next year, and any other future C.L. Polk projects. If you enjoyed the first one, then I think you’ll like how this one turns out. 

Author Bio

C. L. Polk (she/her/they/them) is the author of the World Fantasy Award winning debut novel Witchmark, the first novel of the Kingston Cycle. Her newest novel, The Midnight Bargain, is upcoming in 2020 from Erehwon Books.

After leaving high school early, she has worked as a film extra, sold vegetables on the street, and identified exotic insect species for a vast collection of lepidoptera before settling down to write silver fork fantasy novels.

Ms. Polk lives near the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta, in a tiny apartment with too many books and a yarn stash that could last a decade. She rides a green bicycle with a basket on the front.

She drinks good coffee because life is too short. She spends too much time on twitter. You can subscribe to her free newsletter on Substack.

Ms. Polk is represented by Caitlin McDonald of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

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Review of “Witchmark” (The Kingston Cycle #1) by C.L. Polk

Polk, C.L. Witchmark. New York: Tor.com/Tom Doherty and Associates, 2018.

Paperback | $15.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-1250162687 | 318 pages | Historical Fantasy

5 stars

Witchmark came highly recommended by a book club friend or two as a romance-adjacent fantasy with an m/m romance, and some recent conversation on Twitter in response to some hostile reviews for the forthcoming sequel regarding the shift in protagonist (despite said book not even finished and available to reviewers yet) inspired me to pick up the book even sooner than I originally planned.

This book had such an engaging plot, and was so fast-paced. I also liked that, while it’s not the most complicated fantasy in terms of worldbuilding and magic, it feels both easy to comprehend due to the historical influences and also well-drawn enough to be distinct at the same time.

Miles and Tristan are both fabulous characters, and especially Miles, given that he’s the protagonist and narrator. I loved the exploration of his conflicts as far as his family is concerned. And their romance…there are some pretty cute moments between them, and it balances out the darker atmosphere of the mystery plot and the world war.

This book was utterly enjoyable, and I will definitely be reading the sequel. I would recommend this to fans of great historically-inspired fantasy.