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Bewitched, by Sandra Schwab

This is the second book by Ms Schwab that I’ve had the pleasure of reading. It most definitely won’t be the last.

Like Castle of the Wolf, Bewitched is very much a romance. Like Castle of the Wolf, it is also something more, something else, something different. We could, perhaps, paraphrase a reader’s expression *waving to Bev(QB)*, and say that this book is historical urban fantasy, for, while it is set in 1820, and respects all the historical conventions of the time as well as those of historical romance, it also invites the reader to suspend her disbelief and believe in magic, both white and black.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Sweet passion…
After a magical mishap that turned her uncle’s house blue, Miss Amelia Bourne was stripped of her powers and sent to London in order to be introduced into polite society—and to find a suitable husband. Handsome, rakish Sebastian “Fox” Stapleton was all that and more. He was her true love.
Wasn’t he?
… or the bitter taste of deceit
At Rawdon Park, the country estate of the Stapletons, Amy began to wonder. Several inexplicable events suggested that one sip of punch had changed her life forever—that this love, this lust, was nothing but an illusion. She and Fox were pawns in some mysterious game, and black magic had followed them out of Town. Without her powers, would she be strong enough to battle those dark forces and win? And would she be able to claim her heart’s true desire? Magic potion or no, what she felt for Fox was a spell that could never be broken.

When Fox and Amy first meet, there are no fireworks—unless a certain distaste for each other’s company can be called that. They don’t see anything redeeming in each other, and as far as it goes, they don’t seem to have any commonality in conversation, upbringing, or interests. If left to their own devices, it’s unlikely two such personalities would have seen beyond the masks to the people inside.

But they are not left to their own devices, for vengeance and magic conspire to bind them together, and reason threatens to tear them apart. From a relatively slow start, the story picks up, and I was left racing ahead, anxious to know what would happen, what comes next. (more…)

Castle of the Wolf, by Sandra Schwab

This new school gothic romance is set in Germany during the late 1820s. The novel begins, rather depressingly, with Celia’s father’s funeral, followed by the reading of his will. In short order, we learn the basic facts revealed by the book’s blurb:

Into the Darkness

Celia Fussell’s father was dead, and she was reduced to the status of a poor relation in the house of her brother—the new baron—and his shrewish wife. A life of misery loomed ahead.

But, no. There was hope. Deep in the Black Forest, in the Great Duchy of Baden, was Celia’s inheritance. Among fir trees so dark they almost looked black, the Castle of Wolfenbach rose, a skeletal ruin adorned by gargoyles where even locals feared to tread. It was a fortress of solitude, of secrets, of old wounds, and older mysteries. But it was hers. And only one thing stood in her way: its former master, the hermit, the enigma… the man she was obliged to marry.