Book Review: The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk

The Midnight Bargain: Polk, C. L.: 9781645660071: Amazon.com: Books

The Midnight Bargain // by C.L. Polk

Pub day: October 13, 2020

Publisher: Erewhon Books

Synopsis:

Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors come calling.

In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.

The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries—even for love—she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken?

My Thoughts:

This is a book that I have been looking forward to for several months now. I’ll be honest: Sometimes I judge a book by its cover. Whaat? And this was one of them. I know I had to read it as soon as I saw it and the blurb solidified it. Since then, I have heard so many good things about it. I finally picked it up on a whim one morning and was not able to put it down until I finished it completely that same day!

As it so often happens in other books as well as real life, women in The Midnight Bargain are expected to set aside their own dreams in order to fulfill the wishes of men. The imagery of the collar was so repelling to me that I immediately grabbed at my own neck when first reading it! Even when there is already a perfectly fine way to do things differently or when there are people willing to search for alternatives, those ideas are suppressed or deemed unimportant because there is no obvious benefit to the men of the society who always find themselves more important than their counterparts. While the feminist focus was definitely the strongest theme of the book, there were also others, such as power, privilege, and social norms, that were effortlessly woven into the story as well.

Without wanting to give too much away, I just want to say that this book pulled me in completely right from the start and didn’t let go until I finished it that evening. There are many things I enjoyed about this book but, aside from the themes, some of the other highlights are that books are an integral part of this story, friendship is as important as the romance, and the difficult choice the main character is asked to make has no obvious answer and will find your struggling to make it yourself the whole way through. Also, while it’s always fun to have complex bad characters in novels, it was also a nice change to have one that you can so effortlessly hate the entire way through this time. While I definitely wanted to throw my kindle at the wall at one point, I admire the way the author played with a wide range of my emotions with this book. I don’t know right now whether this is supposed to be the start of a series or a standalone, but she cleans up rather nicely in the end in a way where it could be either one.

Affiliate Link:

If you think you’ll enjoy this awesome book, I would appreciate if you consider purchasing it here.

The Midnight Bargain by World Fantasy Award Winner, C. L. Polk — Erewhon  Books

About the Author:

C. L. Polk (they/them) is the author of the World Fantasy Award winning debut novel Witchmark, the first novel of the Kingston Cycle. Their newest novel, The Midnight Bargain, is upcoming in 2020 from Erehwon Books.

After leaving high school early, they have worked as a film extra, sold vegetables on the street, and identified exotic insect species for a vast collection of lepidoptera before settling down to write silver fork fantasy novels.

Mx. Polk lives near the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta, in a tiny apartment with too many books and a yarn stash that could last a decade. They ride a green bicycle with a basket on the front.

They drink good coffee because life is too short. They spend too much time on twitter. You can subscribe to their free newsletter on Substack.

Mx. Polk is represented by Caitlin McDonald of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

About the Publisher:

Erewhon Books is a new independent publisher focusing on novel-length works of speculative fiction: science fiction, fantasy, and related genres. Their mission is to publish thoughtful, groundbreaking, and unforgettable books that go straight to the reader’s heart, effortlessly strange stories that take readers on powerful emotional journeys. They embrace the liminal and unclassifiable and champion the unusual, the uncanny, and the hard-to-define.

Their books ask hard questions about issues of sociopolitical change, power and privilege, and the impact of ideas and technologies. They explore and investigate society, poke at social norms, and celebrate the unique, diverse, and underrepresented identities and communities of the world we live in, all through the lens of entertaining, thought-provoking, and risk-taking speculative fiction.

Stringchronicity - I read books, play with string, and game. Then I like to  talk about it!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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