Thornbound by Stephanie Burgis

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

Thornbound is book 2 of the Harwood Spellbook novella series, so I’m going to mention some events that might be spoiling the plot of Snowspelled (book 1). If you enjoy wintery romance fantasy with magic and fae and women who defy conventions and mean haughty elves, I recommend you pick it up — it’s currently on sale.

Cassandra Harwood can no longer practice magic, but she still scandalises Angland, where gender roles are strictly abided by. Women are politicians, men are magicians; but now Cassandra is opening a school to teach women magic. Hostile powers, both in the form of the Boudiccate, who doesn’t approve of her project, and a strange magical presence, are disrupting Cassandra’s plans.

It’s a lovely new addition to the Harwood series, a bite-sized feel-good story with an inspiring woman trying to achieve her dream, with the support of a loving family and a husband who respects her and her vision.

This is the main difference between Snowspelled and Thornbound: Cassandra now knows she’s not alone. But it’s viciously double-edged since her actions have a negative impact on those she loves. The young woman battles with guilt when her family faces the consequences of her “flouting” centuries of tradition.

The novella is also very atmospheric. Thornfell is attacked by a vicious magical power, and the almost-oppressive ambiance offers an interesting contrast to the sweetness of the overall story.

I enjoyed the romance, which is focused on Cassandra and her now-husband. They have a heartwarming “us versus the world” dynamic and are ready to give everything up for each other. The relationship with her brother and her sister-in-law is a great aspect as well; the family is sticking together, whatever comes.

If you enjoyed the other instalments of this series, you can rest assured that Thornbound enchants and delights. It’s out on February 25th.

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