Serena’s Review: “Longshadow”

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Book: “Longshadow” by Olivia Atwater

Publishing Info: Orbit, August 2022

Where Did I Get this Book: from the publisher!

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: The marriageable young ladies of London are dying mysteriously, and Abigail Wilder intends to discover why. Abigail’s father, the Lord Sorcier of England, believes that a dark lord of faerie is involved – but while Abigail is willing to match her magic against Lord Longshadow, neither her father nor high society believe that she is capable of doing so.

Thankfully, Abigail is not the only one investigating the terrible events in London. Mercy, a street rat and self-taught magician, insists on joining Abigail to unravel the mystery. But while Mercy’s own magic is strange and foreboding, she may well post an even greater danger to Abigail’s heart.

Review: I’ve been having a blast this summer working my way through Atwater’s historical fantasy romances. I was so blown away by “Half a Soul,” and then the follow-up, “Ten Thousand Stitches,” was just as fun. That being the case, I wasted no time in picking up this book once my ARC arrived. And, while it probably is my least favorite of the three, it was still a solid, fun read.

Abigail has never felt a keen interest in dancing with the gentlemen at the various balls and parties she attends with her family. However, she recognizes that it holds appeal for many of the other marriable young ladies. But then those same ladies begin to mysteriously die, and Abigail discovers that while dancing may not be her thing, solving a murder mystery sure seems to be. When she teams up with self-taught magician who comes from a very different rung of society, Abigail begins to understand that she may not know herself as well as she thought.

Much of the appeal from the first two books was present again here. The writing was fun, clear, and fast moving (even if the plot was less so at times). In a word, these books have all been very “readable.” It was also a blast getting to see several of the characters from the first two books as well. I love it when authors manage to write stand alone stories but then weave in familiar faces in follow-up works. You get the returning-faces-appeal of sequels without having to forfeit a new main character and new overall story. It was nice to see these characters, but the balance was also appropriate, as it remained Abigail and Mercy’s story throughout.

However, didn’t find myself quite as attached to either of these characters as I did the ones in the first two books. I think in some ways this was just my own preference for the type of characters/romances that I most enjoy. The first book, especially, had the exact sort of romance I love. Here, while I enjoyed the uniqueness of Mercy and Abigail’s story, I didn’t find myself swept away by their romantic arc. Mercy had a few reveals later on that added to her story, but overall, she wasn’t the sort of love interest that I most enjoy.

I did like the murder mystery, overall. This definitely falls over several of my preferred genres. But again, here, I found the pacing of the story and mystery to be a bit more off than in the first two books. The story takes a decent amount of time to really get going. And by the time we get to the reveals around the mystery, it begins to highlight the fact that for the reader, the mystery was pretty much unsolvable. Again, there’s a delicate balance to be found between making a mystery so obvious that the reader immediately guesses the solution before the sleuth themselves does, and going to far the other way, where the mystery is totally unsolvable on its own.

Overall, this book delivered on much of what I expected from it: a fun story, a slow-burn romance, and a lovely balance of fantasy and history. That said, it’s probably my least favorite of the three. But fans of the first two will likely still enjoy this one and should definitely give it a go!

Rating 8: A bit slower than the first two books, but still a fun beach read that is sure to be a hit, especially for those looking for a sapphic love story in historical fiction.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Longshadow” isn’t on any Goodreads lists yet, but, like the others, it should be on Regency Fantasy Books.

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