Now of all the magics/superpowers I have to say storm magic has always been something I’ve craved. You’re reading the blog of a woman who still sort of pretends she has wind powers sometimes. So I leapt at the chance to read Weave the Lightning, a new fantasy book from Rebellion Publishing.
Empire. Revolution. Magic.
Gerrit is the son of Bourshkanya’s Supreme-General. Despite his powerful storm-affinity and the State’s best training, he can’t control his magic. To escape the brutal consequences, he runs.
Celka is a travelling circus performer, hiding both her link to the underground and her storm-affinity from the prying eyes of the secret police. But Gerrit’s arrival threatens to expose everything: her magic, her family, and the people they protect.
The storms have returned, and everything will change.
This book got off to a rocky start, I’ll be honest – but it’s an easy explanation as to why. Now, you know I love a hard magic system, and this book has one. There are ‘clear’ ideas as to how one uses the strange storm magic and what it does and what the risks are. All those things I definitely appreciated – can’t abide magic for no reason with no consequences. However, with a complex magic system that uses a lot of specific words (I genuinely don’t know if they were Russian words or fantasy words so perhaps if you have a smattering of Russian it would be less odd) this book expected the reader to pick up how things worked through the narrative – rather than choosing to do it through exposition as happens in similar books. That’s not a problem in less complicated systems but in this case, I just couldn’t work out the specifics of the magic and why things were so difficult for the two ‘perspective’ characters. I would maybe have excused it had the whole book been from Celka’s perspective as she doesn’t actually know much about her own magic – but Gerrit had the training – I don’t think it would have felt too odd to have had him do more of a straight explanation. Others may disagree with me, but it did hinder how easily I could get into this story.
That being said, once I was in I had a really good time reading this book. I think the circus setting really worked to this book’s favour – allowing the characters access to settings and people in a believable way, but it didn’t have the kitschiness that some other circus books have. This felt grittier somehow, and also made it feel as though the circus was part of a world, as opposed to the circus being a world. I appreciated the setting and the worldbuilding, creating the network of revolution and the various challenges the terrain and the government presented to that revolution.
In a lot of ways the story is a familiar one, the son of the commander and the circus girl/revolutionary – but, as I’ve said before, a familiar story allows a new world to shine through, and the storm magic in this worldbuilding is hugely creative. I appreciated that the story explored how such magic would be used/abused in a military environment, that it wasn’t just revolutionaries who had magic – it was being exploited by both sides. I just immersed myself in this book and it was odd coming to when all was done.
Things did get a little love triangle adjacent at times – fair warning for those for whom that is a major no – but I think it was handled reasonably well. My other critique would be that sometimes Celka falls too far into the ‘doe-eyed naive girl’ camp – though only when it comes to romance, she’s great when it comes to theft and heists. I’m nitpicking but she would have been so amazing a character otherwise!
I really recommend this book if you’re looking for a familiar fantasy story with a bit of a twist. I think it would make a great palette cleanser book while still leaving you with some food for thought. If you can pick up a copy I’d suggest you do!
My rating: 4/5 stars
I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Weave the Lightning is out April 7th!
What say you? What other familiar stories in weird settings can you think of? Let me know in the comments below!