Saturday, January 9, 2016

Alternate Universe Regency Romance

Love Regency Romance? Love Fantasy? Try these titles that combine the two genres:

Sylvia Izzo Hunter - Midnight Queen

In this alternate universe Regency England the sons of the upper class study magic at the College of Merlin in Oxford. The main character, Graham "Gray" Marshall, has been accused of murder and drained of his magic. He is banished to the country house of Professor Appius Callender where he meets Callender's middle daughter, Sophie. Together they uncover a conspiracy, clear his name, discover Sophie’s magical ability, and, naturally, fall in love. The pacing of the story is a bit uneven, but the romance, the intrigue, and the inventive world building make this an enjoyable read.

Zen Cho - Sorcerer to the Crown

In Cho’s alternate universe England, magicians belong to the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers. The protagonist, Zacharias Wythe, is the child of African slaves who was adopted by the late Sorcerer Royal, Sir Stephen Wythe. His adoption grants him access to society, but due to his parentage he remains an outsider. He wishes to discover the reason behind the decline of magic in England. He meets Miss Prunella Gentleman, a young woman with her own magical talent, who wishes to enter society. They are obviously made for each other, but before true love can take its course, they must overcome obstacles such as witches, fairies, and various assassination attempts. Cho’s universe stands out for addressing issues of diversity, racism, and sexism.

Mary Kowal - Shades of Milk and Honey

Kowal is clearly a Jane Austen fan. This is the story of sisters, Jane and Melody, and their quest for a suitable marriage; however, in this universe ladies are expected to have skill in the magical art of glamour in addition to the usual accomplishments. The younger sister, Melody, lacks ability at glamour but makes up for it with natural beauty while Jane is plain but gifted in the art of glamour. Jane's magical ability is put to the test when she discovers that one of Melody's suitors has the wrong intentions; in trying to protect her sister she finds herself caught up in a romantic entanglement of her own. While this may not quite match Jane Austen for astute characterization, dry wit, or style, it is a fun homage that is easy to enjoy.

Patricia Werde and Caroline Stevermer - Sorcery & Cecelia: or the enchanted chocolate pot

This epistolary novel began as a letter writing game between the two authors. Each wrote as one of the main characters, Kate and Cecelia. They are two young ladies living in an alternate-world Regency England. Kate is experiencing her first season in London while Cecelia remains in the country. They separately become involved in a magical plot which leads to a great deal of comedy as well as romance. The authors appear to have had endless amounts of fun writing this, resulting in a book that is equally fun to read.

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