This lengthy but constantly entertaining series opener set in 1814 invents a large society of witches comprising much, it seems, of the British aristocracy.
Although witches appear to be equally common in the underclasses, only witches from the nobility go to school to hone their magical skills. Danger strikes when the evil Greymalkin Sisters, long dead, come back as powerful ghosts and kill witches all over London. Emma, one of three cousins descended from the disgraced but powerful Lovegrove family, comes into her powers unexpectedly at the very beginning of the novel. Cormac, a magnificently handsome young lord who previously kissed Emma, works for the Order of the Iron Nail, an organization of male witches who control the entire witch society. The Order suspects Emma in the murders, but even though she’s always around when someone dies, Cormac believes she’s innocent. Harvey balances a large cast with an intricate plot with flair, freely drawing on Regency romance tropes. Emma and Cormac, who has the expected “chiseled features,” dance around their mutual romantic attraction, but the plot’s emphasis centers on the witchy murders. The little time Harvey spends with scrappy little Moira, an urchinlike witch girl called a Madcap, may make some readers wish the book had focused on the other end of society; perhaps they will see more of Moira in sequels.
A successful blend of Regency and paranormal romance. (Paranormal suspense. 12 & up)