I was charmed by Witchmark from page one. Talk about a queer romance, a setting of warfare, and family secrets.
In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.
Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family’s interest or to be committed to a witches’ asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans’ hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.
When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.
There were some parts of Witchmark that made me tear up. I am such a sucker for books with complicated and messy families. Miles and his sister’s relationship was one of the most complex ones I have read in a while. What is so wonderful about Witchmark is that we are immersed in a story from page one with world, characters, and motivations before we even finish the first chapter. From the very beginning, we have a defined sense of their secrets (even if we cannot see them), fears, and motivations.
Some really awful things happen in Witchmark in the name of family, helping the world, and duty. And since family themes always strike a chord for me, I couldn’t help but pay special attention to them. In Witchmark family merges with sacrifice – asking us what we are willing to do to save the world. What they owe to us, how our family has shaped us, or how we have been shaped in spite of our family. Their sibling relationship is intense, fraught, and complex.
Witchmark is a story about freedom, responsibility, and family. Of course there’s murder, mystery, impending and past warfare. I have barely even scratched the surface of this book and all the intricate world building, the queer romance, and the classicism on the society. When we would rather die then let someone go, to make change, the tenuous battle of will, freedom, and survival. It’s also about the crimes of war, of power, and how our magic – how we can be used against our will. When we are seen only for what we can do, not what we are.