Emma Newman’s newest release, Brother’s Ruin, is set in a Victorian London filled with magic.

Charlotte “Charlie” Gunn has been keeping secrets — from her parents, from her fiancé, from her brother and, most important, from the British Crown.Brother’s Ruin

In Newman’s England, if one possesses magical powers, it must be reported to the Royal Society of Esoteric Arts.

Mages are not allowed to marry or have an outside career — they must serve the monarchy instead.

All Charlie wants is to keep her secret career as an illustrator and have a normal life with her fiancé, George.

But all of that is put in jeopardy and Charlie has to risk everything to save it.

Brother’s Ruin (Tor.com, $14.99, 160 pages, ISBN 9780765393968) is an extremely enjoyable novella.

Charlie is an interesting character with a lot of secrets, but for the most part, the reader sympathizes with why she has to keep those secrets.

Relationship dynamics are on full display in this novella and it’s definitely packed to the gills, despite being such a short work.

Charlie’s relationships with her parents, her brother, her fiancé and the mages were really interesting.

She is a strong character who is willing to do whatever she has to in order to protect those she loves … and her secrets.

Newman does an excellent job of building tension throughout the story. There is very little time to relax because the plot pulls readers forward at a gripping pace toward an ending that leaves them anxiously awaiting the next installment in the series.

The author has woven the magical elements seamlessly into a realistic-feeling Victorian era.

Readers get to see the grittier side of London, as well as the middle class that often is overlooked in stories set in this time period.

This is a definite must-read for those who enjoy steampunk stories.

As for this reviewer, I’m counting the days until Tor releases more information about the sequel, which is set to be released sometime this fall.

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