Weaver’s Lament: The Industrial Revolution and social upheaval with magic

Weaver’s Lament by Emma NewmanWeaver’s Lament by Emma Newman fantasy book reviewsWeaver’s Lament by Emma Newman

Weaver’s Lament (2017) is Emma Newman’s second novella in her INDUSTRIAL MAGIC series. The first one is Brother’s Ruin. Both stories feature Charlotte Gunn, a young woman from a respectable family who is hiding several secrets; she is secretly an illustrator of popular fiction and she is secretly magical, having clandestine meetings with a magus to learn to control her abilities. In the first story, Charlotte used her abilities to enhance her older brother’s lesser skill and get him accepted into the Royal Society (who pays the family of nascent magi a pretty penny).

Now Charlotte and her family are financially comfortable. She wants little more than to marry her diligent fiancé George, but brother Ben summons her to Manchester, where he is working. Ben and another magical apprentice are overseeing the workings of a mill where serious accidents are happening. The other apprentice is trying to get Ben blamed. He might lose his position, or if the mill owner, a magus named Ledbetter, decides Ben is a dreaded socialist, he could end up transported to Australia. Ben needs her help to identify who might be sabotaging the magically powered looms, and soon Charlotte is working undercover, seeing firsthand just how bad the conditions of the mill workers are.

Brother's Ruin (Industrial Magic) Kindle Edition by Emma Newman (Author)

Book 1

The details of the post-Industrial Revolution society are nicely drawn and unlike other stories I’ve read with the substitution of magic for steam power, the transition here is close to seamless. I loved that the “socialists” were the boogeymen of the story — someone comments that the Luddites are long gone. Charlotte believes that the socialists are bad, but she can’t deny the ill treatment inflicted on the mill workers or the unfairness of the system. Charlotte is portrayed as a young woman of her time. She is beginning to question what she has been raised with all her life, but only beginning. And she has some dangerous blind spots, most notably around her devotion to her brother.

The story moves along quickly. Sometimes, it seems a little too easy for Charlotte to slip out for meetings with Ben, but that didn’t really throw me out of the story. The descriptions of the looms and the mill were convincing, and the magical explanation for what was happening was not only plausible, it provided a little more insight into the magical system of this world.

Weaver’s Lament is part of a larger storyline and the solution leaves clues for the bigger mystery. Clearly, Charlotte is growing as a magus and as a person, and soon she is going to have to make some serious choices.

Published in October 2017. Charlotte’s magical adventures continue in Weaver’s Lament, the sequel to Emma Newman’s Brother’s Ruin. Charlotte is learning to control her emerging magical powers under the secret tutelage of Magus Hopkins. Her first covert mission takes her to a textile mill where the disgruntled workers are apparently destroying expensive equipment. And if she can’t identify the culprits before it’s too late, her brother will be exiled, and her family dishonoured…

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MARION DEEDS, with us since March 2011, is retired from a 35-year career with county government, where she met enough interesting characters and heard enough zany stories to inspire at least two trilogies’ worth of fantasy fiction. Currently she spends part of her time working at a local used bookstore. She is an aspiring writer herself and, in the 1990s, had short fiction published in small magazines like Night Terrors, Aberrations, and in the cross-genre anthology The Magic Within. On her blog Deeds & Words, she reviews many types of books and follows developments in food policy and other topics.

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