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Weaver’s Lament by Emma Newman. Book Review

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Charlotte Gunn’s brother, Benjamin, is working in his capacity as an apprentice mage in a textile mill in the north of Great Britain. But all is not well because the expensive looms are being destroyed and the culprits cannot be identified. If this is to occur while Benjamin is supervising a shift then he might lose his job. He sends word for Charlotte to come up to see if she can discover what is going on.

Weaver’s Lament is a novella and the second in the Industrial Magic series, the first being Brother’s Ruin. It is set in an alternative 1850’s where magic is at the core of society, driving it relentlessly forward. It is why talented mages are highly prized, but those who have limited talents find themselves exploited and their families struggling to survive financially as a result. Charlotte is a talented mage, whereas her brother is not. The problem is it is a society where females should be seen and not heard. A female mage is something to be reported so the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts can remove them from polite society before they become a problem. The powerful have considerable sway over the rest of the population, which means the story is laced throughout with sinister undertones.

The tension in the story is created this time, because the family is dependent on Benjamin’s success, and the destruction of the looms on his shift might indicate some incompetence on his part. He needs to keep this job or the family will go under.

Charlotte comes over as terribly precious, but does step up to the plate when asked to investigate the problems at the mill. It is essentially a Dickensian-style place with downtrodden mill workers.

Her mentor Magus Hopkins, who is training Charlotte to control her gift so she doesn’t reveal herself, hovers in the background in this story. He is someone I would like to see more of, particularly because he seems to upset Charlotte’s carefully maintained composure and set her pulse racing.

The register of the text has the feel of a young adult novel, and has a very different tone to the science fiction orientated Planetfall novels, which goes to demonstrates Emma Newman’s flexibility as a writer. Because the books in this series are novellas, a considerable amount of plot is packed into them, not giving much time to really get under the skin of the characters. This will no doubt occur with each subsequent book. Given the possibilities offered by the world Charlotte lives in and the potential perils she is likely to face being a female in a male-dominated society, there is plenty of room for many more adventures.

Weavers Lament was courtesy of Macmillan-Tor Forge via NetGalley.

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