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Witherward

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Last, but not least, Witherward by Hannah Mathewson (this was by far my favourite out of this batch). This is a YA/crossover portal fantasy set in London – which I loved because I’ve been to many of the places mentioned. Ilsa, seventeen, is a foundling with shapeshifting powers, making a living as a pickpocket when she finds out about a whole other London, the family that abandoned her and much more. This is a really intriguing debut, well-written with interesting characters. I didn’t quite fall in love with it – I’d rate it a solid 3.5 stars – but it’s certainly a book to look out for, and an author to watch. I am curious where the story will take this next, and this is the kind of book that can scratch your itch for a comfortable, escapist fantasy read.
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Really enjoyed this one. Hannah Matthewson created an interesting world and it was easy to get caught up in it and finish the book in one sitting.

I will look forward to future books Matthewson writes, hopefully a sequel to Witherward sooner rather than later.
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With it’s wrong side of the tracks orphan with a magical talent and alternate London, Witherward definitely invites comparison to Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic. But this isn’t a knock off effort. The book does it’s own thing and so well that I actually prefer it to Schwab’s popular series. Ilsa is a magician’s assistant with a real talent for shapeshifting. Events conspire to trap her in the wrong version of London where she’s embroiled in a mystery that seems to centre around her lost brother. This was twisty and fun with an engaging style and likeable characters.
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I saw this book described as something fans of the Shadowhunters books would like, and I definitely agree that it has a fair few similarities to The Infernal Devices in particular (which, incidentally, was my favourite series of the Shadowhunters). We have a strong female protagonist, Ilsa, who lives in Victorian London. But she's never quite fit in - mainly because she has powers that barely anyone else seems to have. She keeps them secret but uses them to her advantage in sneaky ways. 
Then one day, her best friend is killed in front of her and a mysterious man claims to be here to rescue her. He tells her she's a Changeling, and not from this world at all. He takes her to the parallel London of Witherward, where various factions of magical beings live not-so-harmoniously. She's returned to a family she never knew of - though she's still an orphan, as she'd always believed.
The book takes us through various areas of the Witherward's London, with an array of odd and wonderful and dangerous characters. There's a bit of action, a fair bit of emotion and heartache, betrayal, and mystery. The mystery element was particularly appealing to me, especially combined with the magical elements. 
The characters were really lovable, too. I loved Fyfe possibly the most, and although Eliot was perhaps a little cliche as the dark and broody type, I still found myself very emotionally invested in him. And Ilsa was wonderful, of course - strong, proactive, and a bit of an odd-one-out no matter where she goes. 
The ending was also pretty great - a decent conclusion, but definitely leading on to something more I should think. I can honestly say I'd be keen on reading any sequels! 4.5 stars.
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Welcome to the Witherward, and to a London that is not quite like our own. Here, it’s summertime in February, the Underground is a cavern of wonders and magic fills the streets. But this London is a city divided, split between six rival magical factions, each with their own extraordinary talents – and the alpha of the Changelings, Gedeon Ravenswood, has gone rogue, threatening the fragile accords that have held London together for decades.

Ilsa is a shapeshifting Changeling who has spent the first 17 years of her life marooned in the wrong London, where real magic is reviled as the devil’s work. Abandoned at birth, she has scratched out a living first as a pickpocket and then as a stage magician’s assistant, dazzling audiences by secretly using her Changeling talents to perform impossible illusions. When she’s dragged through a portal into the Witherward, Ilsa finally feels like she belongs.

But her new home is on the brink of civil war, and Ilsa is pulled into the fray. The only way to save London is to track down Gedeon, and he just so happens to be Ilsa’s long-lost brother, one of the last surviving members of the family who stranded her in the wrong world. Beset by enemies on all sides, surrounded by supposed Changeling allies wearing faces that may not be their own, Ilsa must use all the tricks up her sleeve simply to stay alive.

*Checks book-blurb* Welcome to… a London not quite like our own. Sold, I’m in. A historical urban fantasy set in one of my favourite cities? Oh, hell yeah! This has got my name written all over it. Over the years I’ve read many urban fantasy novels that use London as a backdrop and I’m always impressed how authors manage to twist the city into something uniquely their own. The same is true here. London has long been a melting pot of cultures and creeds. It makes perfect sense to me that there would be portals to an alternate version of the city that had that same cosmopolitan air, just a bit more fantastical.

Ilsa has shape-changing abilities that are not the norm in Victorian London.  Hiding in plain sight has been the only way for her to get by. A traumatic event leads Ilsa to another version of the city. A place where magic is an everyday occurrence, a place where she might be able to fit in. There is a real strength to Isla I liked. For years she has only had herself to rely on. When faced with the wondrous streets of a new London she dives straight in. She embraces her new life wholeheartedly; it just feels right. Naturally inquisitive and observant, Isla is the perfect guide to the world Hannah Mathewson has created.  We get to follow Isla while she navigates the cutthroat politics that exist within her new extended family and the other groups in the Witherward.

Mathewson’s alternate version of London is a city chock full of magic and intrigue. Whitechapel is the home of The Whisperers. Sorcerors rule a part of town known as The Heart. The Oracles are based in the Docklands. The Wraiths control the North. The Psi live in the Underground* and finally, The Changelings are in Camden. On the surface, there is an uneasy truce between all these factions. A set of rules has been established to help avoid conflict. Needless to say, many view these restrictions as guidelines at best. Interpretations of laws you don’t want to follow do have a tendency to be somewhat flexible. This fantastical cold war forms the backbone of the entire story. How can these groups, who view one another with constant suspicion, do anything other than fight? There is a sense of change in the air, a city on the brink.

It is the world-building in Witherward that made it for me. It really is exceptional. You can tell the author has spent time considering how the various factions within London interact with one another. The Witherward version of our nation’s capital manages to be comfortably familiar in some regards yet unrecognisable in others. Even the smallest details have been thought about. The Oracles are the perfect example.  Just imagine, you are born with the ability to see the past, the present and the future of all things. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Realistically though, how could your mental health possibly cope? Rather than a blessing, this could be viewed as the ultimate curse. Everything all at once all the time? Of course drug abuse is going to be rife within this part of society. Mathewson explores not only the good but also the bad within the lives of her fantastical beings.

If you are a fan of V.E. Schwab’s Shadow of Magic novels, or the equally awesome Blackhart Legacy trilogy by Liz De Jager, then I predict this is the novel for you. Hannah Mathewson’s debut is a confident, engrossing page-turner. I loved the characters, Fyfe and Captain Fowler for the win! The plot rumbles along with plenty of twists and turns and there is limitless potential for where this could all go next. I hope I get the opportunity to find out.

Witherward is published by Titan Books and is available from 16th February.

There was really only one choice when it came to my musical recommendation to pair with Witherward. The soundtrack to Sherlock Holmes by the mighty Hans Zimmer is a seamless fit. Zimmer’s evocative score is London made of music while Mathewson’s novel is London made of magic. They complement one another perfectly.

*The Underground is not nearly as bad as it sounds, trust me.
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This is a new author for me. The blurb made the book sound amazing and I really wanted to read. I couldn’t wait to get lost in it. The book opens well, set in Victorian London focusing on a magician’s assistant scraping a living. After this the book moves to a Parallel London plagued by warring magical factions. The transaction isn’t as smooth as it could have been and it took a few pages for me to ground myself. I loved the historical detail and world building which really bring the book to life. The characters are all developed really well. I had a great time with Witherward. It’s supposed to be the first in a series and I look forward to reading more.
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I found Witherward an exciting, absorbing but at time frustrating read.

Introducing Ilsa Ravenswood, orphan and magician's assistant who is scraping a living on the street of Victorian London, the book gives the barest glimpse of her life - though what we see is fascinating - before whisking her away to a parallel London, divided between warring magical "factions", each with their own talent, for example, the ability to control others' minds, or to see the future.

Ilsa's clan, the Changelings, are able to transform themselves into any animal they wish - useful for fighting or escaping - or a stage magic act: she's already learned what she can do, but rapidly polishes her abilities once she's introduced to "the Zoo". Which was where the book kind of got stuck for me. The short, early section following Ilsa and her friend Martha in "our" London, was gleeful, busy and full of fun. Ilsa's escape to the Witherward is fraught with danger and mystery. But on her arrival, nothing happens very quickly. A key plot point is that Ilsa's brother Gedoen, the so-called Prince of Camden, has disappeared, leaving the Ravenswoods rudderless and under suspicion from the other factions. But this means that in his absence there's no unifying figure to greet her, no sense of what purpose Ilsa might pursue. She spends a lot of time learning about the strange world that she's in, and then begins to investigate Gedeon's absence, but both of those entail a great deal of conversation which feels a big contrast to the actions of the opening pages.

The Witherward is, I have to say, a fascinating, well worked out and complex world. And the conundrum of Gedeon's whereabouts is a challenging and many-layered one, akin in many ways to a crime or spy story. So this book always maintains interest and it's also great seeing Ilsa's background and personality unfold. She has grown up under the thumb of a singularly unpleasant guardian (the details here are held back but there's clearly been abuse) which has marked her in many ways and finds it hard to come to terms with a family that she never knew about and which left her to suffer alone. Trust is hard to build, understandably, and Ilsa very much wants to do things her way but there is so much she doesn't know and it seems likely that "her way" may get Ilsa into trouble every quickly.

Ilsa does, thought this middle part of the book, keep her wits about her and she does focus on tracking down Gedeon. As she discovers more and more answers, she begins to appreciate how complex and dangerous life in the Witherward is, and who in her extended family may have their own agendas (it's most of them...) That leads to a furious (and glorious!) climax to the book, another change of pace which made me glad that I read to the end.

Leaving a number of plot strands open, Witherward is clearly setting up the possibility of sequels in this intricately imaged alternate London and I will be here for them when they appear. Ilsa is a formidable protagonist and she's obviously got lots more to see and do.
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Apart from the slightly stereotypical YA Fantasy characters, this is a wonderfully imaginative adventure in an alternative Victorian London, where 6 different magical peoples coexist under a strained treaty.
There’s mystery, magic, intrigue, love, humour and thrill.
The end left me unsatisfied though, but I sincerely hope (and I’m fairly sure), there’s more to come from the Witherward!
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Hannah Mathewson’s debut and the beginning of a new fantasy series, has been a nice read. 

‘Witherward’ follows seventeen-years-old Ilsa, living in Victorian London – or like, we later come to know, Otherworld – and working as a magician’s assistant in the theatre. Only that her magic is more than tricks. It’s real, and she has spent her whole life trying to find others like her. Now, she’s attacked, and her friend murdered, only to be taken to another world, Witherward, to realise that there’s more to her and magic than she has ever imagined. And that she may not be all alone in the world.

‘Witherward’ is full of interesting characters and magic, and I have enjoyed the book quite a lot. It has a great atmosphere and interesting world, though at moments similar to many of the books of this genre. I felt like sometimes the action was not fast-paced enough, or the descriptions were telling more than showing, but overall it has been a nice read and a promising start to a new series.
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4 of 5 stars
https://lynns-books.com/2021/03/02/witherward-witherward-1-by-hannah-matthewson/#comment-53223
My Five Word TL:DR Review – I thoroughly enjoyed this one

The thing is, I’m quite a lot less inclined to pick up YA these days.  In fairness I’m not the target audience and more often than not I find myself coming away from them with more questions than answers.  Witherward was such a lovely surprise, the world building was impressive, the plot kept me hooked and I enjoyed the characters.  On top of which there is a very low key romance that is simmering away.  Yeah, I had a good time with this one.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t necessarily say that there’s anything groundbreaking here and it has something of a ‘chosen one’ trope but there are some lovely refreshing elements, good writing,strong foundations and a number of twists.

This is a world with two Londons. One quite hidden and accessed via portals, known as Witherward, where all sorts of magic and supernatural elements exist. The other London – the one we, the readers, are familiar with – is known as Otherworld  Witherward has a number of different factions.  On the face of it they exist amicably, well, mostly.   Changelings are exactly what they sound like- they can shift into virtually any animal, bird or even a different person providing their magic is strong enough and they can hold the image in their mind. The other factions are Wraiths, Whisperers, Oracles, Sorcerers, and Psi – each with their own particular strengths.  There is an accord between the factions to keep them in line, they each inhabit particular areas but the Changelings are relatively new and at this point, not entirely accepted. So, for the purposes of this story we follow the Changelings as they withstand various conspiracies.

Ilsa is a Changer who has lived in the Otherworld for as long as she can remember. Initially at an orphanage until the cruel treatment she received eventually forced her to run away and carve out a life on the streets. As the story begins Ilsa is taken, ripped from everything she has ever known and taken to Witherward. From there, everything she has ever known is turned upside down,  Amongst strangers she discovers a whole new world full of possibilities that she never imagined, although this is of course tinged with constant threats to life and limb.

What did I enjoy about this? Such a lot.  The world building is really well done.  Admittedly, there is a lot to take on board initially but it’s all really well grounded with history and emotions that run deep.  I liked the characters. Ilsa is easy to like. She’s not perfect by a long stretch of the imagination but she is resourceful and independent. I also liked a number of the other characters and it felt very easy to get on board with them.  I enjoyed the way that we discover things along with Ilsa. It felt natural and unforced.  I liked the dialogue that came across easy to read and natural.  The plot was intriguing and there were a number of twists.

Overall this makes a great start to series. We have something of an enemies to love interest ‘thing’ going on which is enticing and well paced and actually was quite unique in the direction it eventually takes and is a definite draw in terms of book 2 (which I’m really looking forward to given how this one ends).

In terms of criticisms.  I don’t really have anything.  This was a really enjoyable read for me that quite outdid itself in terms of my expectations for YA.  I feel like I’m perhaps not giving this as glowing a review as I would like – so, for the avoidance of doubt, this was great.

I received a copy through Netgalley courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.
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Thank you so much to Titan Books for sending me a copy of Witherward by Hannah Mathewson for review! I was on the Instagram tour for the release and I had a fun time reading it. This is a YA fantasy book which released a few days ago, so check it out if it sounds interesting to you!

The synopsis of this book intrigued me immediately. The book focuses on a London alternate to our own, with conflict between different magical factions. Isla, a Changeling, finds herself transported from a London where real magic is seen as satanic, to the Witherward. There are themes of the Victorian Era, as well as a search for a long-lost family member, and Isla gets caught up in all of this drama. It sounded so cool!

The world-building combines magic, politics and intrigue to captivate the reader. I really liked learning about the different types of magic-wielders in this world and how their histories intertwined to form London. All the abilities sound so cool – especially Changelings and Wraiths. I’m hoping we’ll hear more about the political history between them in the next book, because I really enjoyed that. There is also a lot of history that Isla doesn’t have the answers to yet, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that part of the story develops.

Isla was an interesting character to read about, especially since she was thrust into a world she knew nothing about, just as the reader was. She was strong in coming to terms with her new identity, and I have no doubt that she will develop even more as the series continues. I didn’t completely fall in love with her – she did kind of seem like a generic protagonist at times. This might be just me, but sometimes I forgot that she had a Cockney accent and suddenly it would seem really strong, but I’m not sure if I was imagining the inconsistencies. But that’s just a random note!

I also found the book to move pretty quickly, and this was helped along by the mystery element of the book. It’s unknown what exactly happened to Isla’s parents, and her brother is also missing. Everyone in the Witherward is keeping secrets, and Isla doesn’t know who to trust. I’m not completely sold on the romance yet, but there is definitely intrigue there and I just think it needs time to develop.

Overall, I did have a fun time reading this book! I’m struggling a bit with my rating, because while I did enjoy reading it, something was missing. I think I just wish I felt more connected to the characters, but to be fair I don’t always get that with the first book of the series. I am still intrigued to see where the story will go, – I read it very quickly and I would recommend it.

3.5/5 stars
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I ended up DNFing this book at 43%. I tried really hard to finish it and I really wanted to like it, but it got the stage where I couldn’t continue reading it. There was nothing special about this book, it felt like just another fantasy book. I didn’t really connect to or care about any of the characters, there was a lot of information dumping which I found hard to process and I simply didn’t enjoy it.
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It was a very enjoyable read I would (and will) recommend to others. It provides an entertaining plot, compelling characters, and intriguing magic. A strong debut.
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I had high expectations of Wiherward due to the description on Netgalley which alluded to Victoria Schwab, Six of Crows and The Prestige!! Often my expectations are too high when publishers do things like this but actually it was justified in this case. This was an enjoyable, entertaining and engrossing read which has a likeable heroine at it's heart.

I absolutely loved the character of Ilsa and I was drawn to her from the very beginning and invested in her story. I also loved the alternate Victorian fantasy London and the different factions which exist within it. It reminded me of A Darker Shade of Magic but it's an original stroy in its own right and quite original in storyline and setting. The cast of characters are also very diverse and the book is well written and engaging. 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for a chance to read and review this book.
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Alternative Londons have been around for donkey’s years and yet I never get tired of reading about them. London is a city that’s so bursting with life and so rich with history that it’s easy to imagine it could be magical too. And that’s the case with Witherward. Here, the alternative London is a shadow city to Victorian London, and it’s bursting with magical factions and races with tensions that are rapidly reaching boiling point…

Our guide is Isla, a shapeshifting Changeling who is taken to Witherward after being targeted by a rival faction. There, she discovers that she’s related to the leader of the Changelings, Gedeon, who has mysteriously gone missing- and in his absence the city is in danger of falling into civil war. It’s a bold premise and Matthewson follows it up with reams of world-building, constructing a city where addicts co-exist alongside a fantastical underground cavern that telekinetic Psi have made their own. This blend of the gritty and fantastical lends a nice rounded feel to the whole story, which underpins Ilsa’s fairytale with dark undertones.

As far as plot goes, it absolutely romps along, teasing us with red herrings and introducing us to a revolving cast of interesting characters (the least interesting of which, sadly, is stereotypical love interest Eliot), all of whom seem to be absolutely gorgeous- but hey, that’s YA for you. Quibbles aside, though, this was a wildly entertaining book with an exciting premise. More please!
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I loved the mix of magic and action in Witherward and how the book just oozed steampunk, victorian vibes. If you’ve ever seen The Prestige (a film about Victorian magicians) you’ll know EXACTLY what I mean by that. With plenty of intrigue and magic, this is a book I think a lot of Fantasy buffs will really enjoy.
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The idea of magical versions of our own world is a long-standing part of fantasy from Diana Wynn Jones to Neil Gaiman and VE Schwab many authors have played with the idea of magical worlds just outside the corner of our eyes. If we are fantasy fans deep down in our hearts, we all believe in the possibility of magic. I am always interested to see what versions of our world can exist. In Witherward by Hannah Mathewson we have a promising start to new fantasy series that has the potential to tell some really interesting stories.

The story begins in Victorian London where magicians assistant Ilsa is about to work for her rather sozzled friend in the theatre when she is stunned to see someone perform actual magic on the streets of London. The issue is she thought she was the only person who could do that. Ilsa has the ability to change shape into animals or even look like another person hence now working for the Great Balthazar known backstage as Blume. The day gets stranger when she feels she is being watched backstage and finally the evening ends with a brutal murder and Ilsa being forcefully taken to where she is told she belongs…Witherward. An alternate London comprised of semi-warring factions. Ilsa is told she is a changeling of which there are many here and she is the believed dead daughter of one of the most famous leaders of the groups killed in a brutal attack. Ilsa discovers she has a brother she never knew about, but he is now missing and for some reason a group of people now also want Ilsa dead. 

The start of this story is really well told. We get a fascinating character in Ilsa as Mathewson also creates a wonderful sense of weirdness and tension culminating in a quite shocking death that firmly underlines that we are in adult fantasy territory. This is not a safe Victorian London and Ilsa’s assailants and even her rescuer feels a bit different. I was also intrigued by Ilsa’s past and the mystery of this hidden magic. Very strong opening but this gets a little side-tracked in the second quarter of the book. When Ilsa arrives, she is sent to the Changeling’s HQ, meets the key cast and then gets an awful lot of exposition explaining the world, the magical factions, the magic and the history of the location. This section was a bit hard to get through and drained the urgency of the initial opening. Its always tricky in a new series establishing the ground rules but, in this case, I really did question if I really needed to know everything before anything else really happened. It would have been better I think to walk us around and show us this London and not be told about it first. The great news though is after this section of the book it lets loose and really starts to turn into something special and hard to put down.

The cast of characters we meet are really interesting I loved the taciturn broody yet occasionally Charming Elliot who seems the black sheep of the group yet shares Ilsa’s humour, the young brilliant but shy Fyfe who is exploring how you can replicate and stop magic through technology, the cunning definitely not a spy Aelius and the initially very placid but underneath quite dangerous Cassia and their current leader in her brother’s absence Hester – sharp, cold and recovering from her back being broken in a recent attack and the subsequent loss of her powers. This core group really work well each bringing out a different side to Ilsa and helping explore the world she is now in. Ilsa though is just a fun character a Victorian urchin merged with the ability to lie, deduct problems, and pickpocket she is very easily a match for the best of the Changelings and while there is a great hurdle for her to climb, she is fascinating to watch develop and flourish in this world. Mathewson’s big strength is the character scenes where the emotional stories of the characters come out be they hostile, fun or romantic and that’s what really pulled me into the story. I ended up caring for what happened to this group which is always key to a series’ success.

In terms of adversaries the Witherward is amazingly dangerous. There is no central government just warring factions vying for power or protecting their own depending upon your point of view. We have six magical groups all with their own powers and for this story I think the key groups to highlight are the mysterious Oracles who see past present and future all at once – in particular angry with Ilsa for reasons unknown; the dangerous Wraiths who can pass through any objects and for whom we meet the most fascinating possibly an assassin Captain Fowler who steals all his scenes and the strange Whisperers who can hear thoughts, plant memories and make you question reality. These groups are all found to have their own secrets and inner factions so there is a clear number of other stories to be told alongside what has happened to Ilsa’s brother Gedeon. Nothing feels safe and you get the feeling the bigger story is lurking underneath as we see double-crosses, treachery and death are all normal in the Witherward. Also the magical battles are very well thought through and make some great tense set pieces!

I found this a very entertaining debut after the ground rules are set in. It is a very promising start to what could be quite an unusual series. I hope that the next tale relaxes a bit now the rules of the world are set and we can get to having a lot of fun. A series to keep an eye on because I think this set of adventures is going to be a lot of fun!
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Witherward was a fast-paced, magical tale that kept me hooked right until the very end. It was surprising at every turn!

Witherward is a world very much like our own, except it's populated by people with incredible powers, and London is a city divided by factions. Changelings, Wraiths, Whisperers, Oracles, Sorcerers, and Psi. But the concepts for each of these are very different from what is usually seen in fiction; changelings aren't fae and wraiths have nothing to do with ghosts. 

This story follows Ilsa as she discovers an entirely new London after being rescued from an assassination attempt that killed her friend instead. Isla finds out she wasn't abandoned, after all, but that her family believed she was dead until recently. 
I loved Ilsa's character! She was so resourceful, clever, naturally cautious of others because of how she grew up but still so kind! 

This idea of an alternative London and warring supernatural factions really reminded me of both A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab and The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, so if you enjoyed this book, you might enjoy those two (or vice versa). 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to read the sequel!
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Ilsa is a shapeshifter, getting by in our Victorian London by using her talents to make her the perfect stage magician's assistant. When someone tries to kill her she discovers that for the first 17 years of her life she's been marooned in the wrong London. Her parallel London is a city divided between magical factions and she's the lost member of the Ravenswood Clan, a leading Changeling family.. 

Having believed herself an orphan all her life, Ilsa discovers she has a brother who is missing. Times are dire. The new London is on the brink of civil war and Ilsa has a part to play.

This book was announced as Six of Crows meets The Prestige, so (loving Six of Crows) I might have gone into this with expectations set too high. Sadly it did not meet them. In fact there were times when I might have put the book down and not picked it up again, but it kept me reading... just. The world building is elaborate (though I confess I sometimes lost track of the different magical clans). The pace is a bit slow and - though there's depth - it isn't always in the right place. The premise sounded interesting, but in the end I didn't care enough about the characters.  A pity because i really wanted to like it.
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This is my first ever review via NetGallery, therefore I was sent a review copy of the book from the publisher in return for an honest view.

Now I admit that I was a bit apprehensive about this one, as the blurb sounded fantastic, but once I got into it I started to get some horrible flashbacks of reading Uprooted. However, my fears were unfounded as it was much, much better than that!

Ilsa our main protagonist is an orphan, runaway, shape-shifter stranded in our Victorian London. She knows she is special and has just about got a handle on her powers, well, enough to put on what would otherwise be the magic show of the century anyway, that is if the actual magician could keep the whiskey bottle out of his hand long enough to let his 'Magical Assistant' do her thing! </p>

They finally have their last chance to knock them dead, but something unforeseen happens, which results in a handsome stranger dragging Ilsa off to her real family in an ever so slightly more 'Magical' London.</p>

It is there that Ilsa learns of her heritage, her missing sibling and the plight of her people as this alternative London is a city divided, split between six rival magical factions, each with their own extraordinary talents. But with enemies seemingly on all side, and only a handful of allies to boot can Ilsa get herself, and her people out of this mess?

Mathewson does a really good job of grounding the world with real-world elements and places that are apparent in both Londons. There are rules and limitations to the magic that is used by each of the factions. some of these limitations go follow some dark themes, but I feel that this only adds a little more depth, grit and overall believability to the world Matthewson has created.  Although, if you ask me the Wraiths may be a tad OP, but everyone loves a plucky, good-looking ever so slightly cocky captain right? Or is that just me?

The characters do suffer a tiny bit from 'Adolescence', and just about every male in it is 'classically handsome, or fit' but for the most part they are likeable, well rounded, and have a variety of different personalities, quirks, tensions &amp; pre-existing relationships that Ilsa has to uncover in a new person in the kings/queens court sort of way.

All in all its no real surprise that I liked this one, being a fan of YA, Magical worlds, mysterious figures and stories with a slightly dark edge to them this one pretty much ticked all of my boxes. I would certainly recommend picking this one up and giving it a go!
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