Snowspelled (The Harwood Spellbook #1) by Stephanie Burgis

September 14, 2017 Book Reviews 10 ★★★★½

Snowspelled (The Harwood Spellbook #1) by Stephanie BurgisSnowspelled Series: The Harwood Spellbook #1
on September 4, 2017
Pages: 166
Purchase: Amazon | Bookshop
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In nineteenth-century Angland, magic is reserved for gentlemen while ladies attend to the more practical business of politics. But Cassandra Harwood has never followed the rules...

Four months ago, Cassandra Harwood was the first woman magician in Angland, and she was betrothed to the brilliant, intense love of her life.

Now Cassandra is trapped in a snowbound house party deep in the elven dales, surrounded by bickering gentleman magicians, manipulative lady politicians, her own interfering family members, and, worst of all, her infuriatingly stubborn ex-fiancé, who refuses to understand that she’s given him up for his own good.

But the greatest danger of all lies outside the manor in the falling snow, where a powerful and malevolent elf-lord lurks...and Cassandra lost all of her own magic four months ago.

To save herself, Cassandra will have to discover exactly what inner powers she still possesses – and risk everything to win a new kind of happiness.

A witty and sparkling romantic fantasy novella that opens a brand-new series from the author of Kat, Incorrigible, Masks and Shadows and Congress of Secrets.

I received a review copy of this book from purchased, the author.


A delightful blend of fantasy and romance, set in an alternate 19th-century England.

Humans and elves (essentially the Sidhe) maintain an uneasy peace in Burgis’s Angland, which is also populated by fairies and trolls. Cassandra Harwood, the first young woman formally admitted to the study of magic, has recently lost her magic. She must rely on all her fierce determination and intelligence when she finds herself enmeshed in a promise to a hostile elf lord.

The relationship between Cassandra and her former fiance Wrexham is based on a typical romantic trope, but the way it plays out is influenced by the unique sociopolitical structure and mores of the alternate Britain, at once quite different and somewhat similar to the historical 19th-century England. Here, women rule the political sphere, men the magical one. With political power comes domestic power; women are the heads of their households. Yet men don’t appear to be subservient or second-class citizens, but partners. (However, it’s apparently men, or possibly both sexes, who can be socially “compromised” and forced into marriage.) It’s a refreshing change from typical Regency romances, much as I enjoy them. There’s also more diversity in Cassandra’s world than in the average Regency or Victorian romance.

As enjoyable as the romance is, however, the main focus of the novella is on Cassandra coming to terms with the loss of her magic…and, of course, on solving the mystery she promised to solve. The stakes are high, not just for Cassandra but for the future of human society.

If I have any complaint about this novella, it’s only that it isn’t long enough despite its 166 pages. I would cheerfully have stayed twice as long in Burgis’s world! Luckily for me (and other fans), Snowspelled is the first book in what promises to be a series worth reading. I can’t wait for the second.


NOTE: For those who prefer their romances “clean” or “sweet,” there are no explicit scenes in Snowspelled.

ETA: Ms. Burgis writes about how she came up with her alternate Regency history in a guest post on The Skiffy and Fanty Show blog


About Stephanie Burgis

Author photo: Stephanie Burgis (with tortoiseshell cat Pebbles)

Stephanie Burgis grew up in America, but now lives in Wales with her husband, fellow writer Patrick Samphire, their two sons, and their sweet (and extremely vocal) tabby cat, Pebbles. Her most recent books include a MG fantasy adventure series, The Raven Crown duology), and two romantic adult historical fantasy series, Regency Dragons and Good Neighbors).

Stephanie is also the author of two popular MG fantasy series, the Kat, Incorrigible series (known in Britain as The Unlikely Adventures of Kat Stephenson) and the Tales from the Chocolate Heart series. Her adult fantasy romances include Masks and Shadows and the Harwood Spellbook series.

(adapted from Goodreads biography)

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Tackle Your TBR Read-a-thon 2017

10 Responses to “Snowspelled (The Harwood Spellbook #1) by Stephanie Burgis”

  1. Rita H

    4.5 from someone stingy with her stars, lol, I’m in! I already had this on my radar, and it sounds like such fun for when I’m in the mood for something delightful.

    I’m glad this is a novella only because it sets up a series– usually I don’t read shorts; they are either disappointing because they don’t flesh out the plot enough, or I love them and then they end too soon! Thanks!
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    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      To be fair, it’s a reasonably long novella. I don’t know if later books will be longer, as I believe she intends to continue self-publishing this particular series. (But I could be wrong.) I hope you enjoy it!

  2. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library

    This really wasn’t what I was expecting from this cover! I don’t read much fantasy or magical worlds but the ones I’ve read I’ve really enjoyed and I’ve been looking to read more. I like the traditional romance tropes mixed in with fairies and trolls. I’m adding this to my TBR.

    • Lark_Bookwyrm

      I think you would enjoy this, Katherine! Though it’s more elves than fairies in this one. (I’m hoping for the fairies in the next book. They’re mentioned in this one, but they’re tucked away for the winter, apparently.)