Technically a long novella, Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis is a delightful read. With a strong focus on characters and a fun plot, Burgis treats her readers to an enchanting fantasy romance that is hard to put down. If you’re looking for a cozy read for a lazy Saturday afternoon, look no further! Cassandra finds herself forced to deal with a snow storm that could shatter an important peace treaty while still wrestling with a life changing event from her own past. To complicate matters even more, her ex-fiancé is snowbound at the same estate.
Burgis gives us a magical world with a great deal of character development and an uplifting romance. The character development, in particular, is impressive in a work that doesn’t quite break the 50,000 word mark. Burgis deserves credit for the amount of character depth and development she includes in Snowspelled, all without anything feeling rushed or poorly integrated to the story. This allows for pleasing emotional moments throughout the story as we watch Cassandra deal with some of her inner demons. All of this without the novella ever feeling dark or disturbing. It’s a cozy, uplifting read that still manages plenty of tension throughout. In addition to great character development, Burgis introduces us to a magical world based loosely on England, but with some interesting twists. Women - not men - are the politicians and negotiators in this world, men are not welcomed in that area. Conversely, men are the magicians and magic users of the world, and women are not particularly welcome in that area. It makes for fascinating “what-if” sorts of questions. The romance was also well done, with the characters behaving in a mature fashion throughout and much of the tension coming from factors external to the romance itself. I appreciated this a great deal, since so many romances in fantasy novels create tension through either immature or out-of-character behavior on the part of the people involved in the romance or end up leaving the reader somewhat ambivalent regarding whether the characters ever actually get together.
There weren’t many things to criticize here. Magic played a fairly large role in the story, and thus understanding a little bit more how magic works, particularly regarding an event from Cassandra’s past, would have been helpful to me. Beyond that, the only thing I have to complain about is that as a novella the story was short and I was left wanting more, but I hardly think that can be called a criticism.
A mature romance set in an enchanting and delightful world with wonderful character development allow Burgis’ novella to stand out. Those looking for a cozy romance or for a palate cleanser between larger reads should check this one out. I’m looking forward to the sequel.
Review by Calvin Park
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