The lives of an accused Witch, her would-be suitor and the man seeking to develop her alleged magic all intersect in an alternate-history fantasy.
Lady Jordan Astraea lives a life of luxury in the strict (yet woefully underdefined) class system of the New World of 1844. In this history, the colonists escaped the Old World for a land where magic is strictly outlawed. On the night of her high-society 17th birthday, Lady Jordan is victimized, accused of being a Weather Witch. The mystery behind Jordan’s false accusation, obvious to readers, takes her the entire book to partially solve. Luckily, arresting Jordan means removing her from high society and the overly descriptive, lengthy sentences that aim to demonstrate rich decadence but end up clunky and baffling. Jordan is brought to the Maker, Bran Marshall, whose job is to torture witches. This somehow turns them into Conductors, an energy source used in place of electricity and steam power. Bran’s storyline, involving a newly arrived illegitimate daughter, features another painfully predictable twist as he grapples with the nature of his work. The bright spot is Jordan’s not-quite boyfriend, a witty lush who achieves heroism. The ending leaves almost all storylines open to set up for a sequel.
The partially defined world has potential but not enough to overcome the plot contrivances. (Fantasy. 12-14)