From the desk of Katie Jackson:
The world of Austenesque stories has expanded exponentially in recent years, and now enthusiasts of Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF) can treat themselves to fantasy versions of their beloved novels. There’s even a delightful new Facebook group dedicated to the subgenre: Fantasy Reads for Austen Fans. Bestselling author Monica Fairview is the latest creator in this whimsical realm with her imaginative Pride and Prejudice variation, Dangerous Magic.
Fitzwilliam Darcy has the weight of the Kingdom on his shoulders. As an elite and formidable Royal Mage, he is destined to help save England by winning the war against Napoleon and his ever-increasing army of French mages. “Darcy wondered if there had ever been a moment in his life when he could have forged his own path. He had always been guided by duty, honor, and good principles, and he had never thought to question their hold on his life.” (17) Trained from childhood as a true-blooded mage at the exclusive Royal Academy, Darcy is well-versed in the textbook spells—but they’re not strong enough, and England is on the verge of being overtaken. Darcy needs to Bond with a Janus Twin—an equally powerful mage, thus doubling their magical strength—if the Kingdom has any chance of surviving Napoleon’s attack. But such mages are exceedingly rare, and time is running out.
Elizabeth Bennet has been raised in the countryside, instinctively developing her magical skills without any formal training and only vaguely aware of the war being fought on English soil. Her life changes dramatically on the day the Royal Mages arrive to enlist her services for King and Country. “Conscripted. A heavy sense of dread had lodged inside Elizabeth, along with a prickling of fear. What if she had to be in a battle? What if they sent her to fight in France?” (95) Although she is not a true-blooded mage, she is extraordinarily talented, and she has become their last, best hope for saving England from the French.
The challenging circumstances escalate when it’s decided that, due to the extensive amount of training time they must spend together, an unmarried man and woman cannot form a magical Bond as Janus Twins without utterly ruining the woman’s reputation, and therefore, Darcy and Elizabeth will be forced to marry for the benefit of the war effort. Darcy is bitter. “An insignificant young lady, from an insignificant family, and an even more insignificant village? …All I can hope for is that she is at least tolerably pretty.” (54) Elizabeth feels trapped. “Serving as a mage for a few years was one thing. Being bound to a stranger for a lifetime with no possibility of escape was quite another.” (249)
Sparks fly—literally—and the volatile situation becomes ever more dire as they fight with each other, as well as against mysterious forces determined to keep them apart, and the French mages continue to hunt for a battle. When the dust settles, will Darcy and Elizabeth reign victorious?
This book was an absolute page-turner from start to finish. My only complaint is that it felt like it ended too soon—mostly because I read it so quickly and couldn’t put it down—and I want to read a sequel posthaste. Imagine my delight when I discovered that this book, although easily a stand-alone story, is the first in a series and a sequel is, in fact, forthcoming. The story was so immersive and had such a cinematic feel to it that I wish I could see a film adaptation. The creative yet believable world-building was enhanced by beautifully descriptive explanations of the magic used. It was fascinating to see the wealthy, upper-class ladies and gentlemen working together with a real purpose, instead of their usual leisure pursuits. I also enjoyed the apt depiction of Janus, the Roman god with two faces, representing beginnings and transitions. Our courageous Lizzy was her usual obstinate, headstrong self, with some impressive magical talents making her a truly accomplished young lady. Taciturn Darcy was just as proud and prejudiced as ever, with the added bonus of his role as an esteemed Royal Mage to make him that much more dutiful to tradition and reluctant to change. Their fiery interactions were, dare I say, magical.
Dangerous Magic is an enchanting tale that will charm both Austen enthusiasts and fantasy fans in equal measure.
5 out of 5 Stars
- Dangerous Magic, A Pride & Prejudice Fantasy, by Monica Fairview
- White Soup Press; 1st edition (March 15, 2021)
- Trade paperback & eBook (242) pages
- ASIN: B08W4CFT4Y
- Genre: Austenesque, Historical Fantasy
We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image complements of White Soup Press © 2021; text Katie Jackson © 2021, austenprose.com.