Burn Mark by Laura Powell
|Burn Mark by Laura Powell|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A fresh treatment given to witches in this alternate Britain thriller-come-fantasy. The plot needs prodding along a little on occasions but we enjoyed its different approach. It's also good to read an urban fantasy set in the UK for once.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 416||Date: June 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
Longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2013
Glory comes from a long line of witches. She knows the fae will show itself in her eventually. And when it does, Glory intends to make sure her East End coven regains its former and elevated status. Lucas is the privileged son of the Inquisition's Chief Prosecutor. He holds the prevalent view that witchcraft and witchcrime are all but synonymous and that witchkind generally presents a serious threat to national security. He intends to follow his father into the Inquisition...
... until, that is, Lucas turns witch on the very same day as Glory. Soon, these two will be thrust together and, unlikely allies that they are, must get to the bottom of a conspiracy that not only threatens everyone, but also goes to the very top levels of power.
I really enjoyed the freshness of this alternate history story. Imagine that witches were real. Imagine that the witchhunts of times gone by had never ended. Imagine that witchcrime was so established that it was dealt with in specific legislation by a dedicated police. What would society look like? Well, in Powell's London, many things are much the same - there are privileged posh boys and mouthy chavs. Politics are just as murky. There are still criminal gangs. But witchcraft permeates it all and - in the rotten traditions for minorities - witchkind generally comes off worst, wherever it's found.
It was also nice to read an urban fantasy set in London, so we got more familiar lingo and less in the way of GPAs and sophomores and backyards and closets and whatnots. Not that there's anything wrong with American fantasies. I just wish there were more British ones! There is a difference, you know. For example, the conflict between the two main characters, Glory and Lucas, is one of class. He's posh. She's not. This is very British and so very relatable. I liked both Glory and Lucas. She has the burning ambition of the downtrodden while he has the reserve and sense of fair play of the cricket-playing public schoolboy. By the end of the book, they have discovered that they aren't so far apart, after all.
The plot plods a little bit at times and I wished it would push on with things with a little more gusto, but otherwise, I found Burn Mark a very satisfying urban fantasy, particularly for the interesting angles it took and the impeccable research.
Recommended for fans of the genre.
You might also enjoy The White Cat by Holly Black, also set in a world where magic has been banned just as alcohol was during Prohibition. Paranoia is rife and everyone wears gloves. And there's Black Arts by Andrew Prentice and Jonathan Weil, also about witches and persecution and criminal gangs, but set in 16th century London.
You can read more book reviews or buy Burn Mark by Laura Powell at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Burn Mark by Laura Powell at Amazon.com.
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