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Witchmark

(The Kingston Cycle #1)

by
3.89  ·  Rating details ·  5,862 ratings  ·  1,245 reviews
C. L. Polk arrives on the scene with Witchmark, a stunning, addictive fantasy that combines intrigue, magic, betrayal, and romance.

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
...more
Kindle Edition, 318 pages
Published June 19th 2018 by Tor.com
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Anna Marie I think that a mature teenager could read it and get a lot out of it. I would especially recommend that queer-identifying teens read this book,…moreI think that a mature teenager could read it and get a lot out of it. I would especially recommend that queer-identifying teens read this book, because LGBTQIA folx are traditionally underrepresented across all genres. (I'm happy to report that this is changing!)

However, I would not place it in the YA category, because that category tends to feature young characters with struggles which are developmentally appropriate for younger people.

This is a novel with adult characters with relatable adult problems in a world that is complex and layered. (less)
Marlowe The main character is gay, and the central romance is m/m. It's shy and they take it slow (the culture isn't tolerant of long term queer…moreThe main character is gay, and the central romance is m/m. It's shy and they take it slow (the culture isn't tolerant of long term queer relationships, though it does seem to be allowed as a "youthful fling"), but there are some moments of strong chemistry.

The romantic aspect is explicit, but there isn't explicit sex.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  5,862 ratings  ·  1,245 reviews


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Elise (TheBookishActress)
You know when you read really good fanfiction or really good romance (and yes I'm using these both as positives), and yes, you know that there might be a few tropes, but you are just so invested in everything within the story, and you want to praise it forever and send it to all your friends? Thats how I feel about this book. This has all the good qualities of really good romance [well-used tropes, story beats we can sense but still arent bored by, interesting and likable characters] and then ...more
chai ♡
A witch works secretly as a doctor to escape enslavement by his sister and meets a cute boy? What could possibly go wrong?

I think the novel introduces many formidable themes (free will, the inhumanity of war, the grinding machine of capitalism), but fails to take them in its teeth. The characters are difficult to embrace and could step more wholly into the page, and the novel's exploration of their relationships demand a lot more depth but only skims the surface, like skipping stones. That
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carol.
Oct 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of idyllic pacing, Edwardian England
It's quite, so very, very twee.

The good stuff: it is very charming. There's a sweet romance. There are men bicycling. There are feisty ladies. And I wasn't inclined to either fall asleep or throw the book once.

The background: There's a very Edwardian England feel about it, all waistcoats, dressing for dinner, carriages, and well-bred women chaperoned when with the opposite sex.  The story surrounds a man who has essentially escaped his family to live under an assumed name as a doctor. His family
...more
Riley
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq-fantasy
historical ✓
magical ✓
gay ✓✓✓
murder mystery ✓

I adored this. it wasn't anything like what I expected
Bradley
Nov 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I honestly did not know what to expect with this except that a ton of people I know swore by it. So sure, I barely looked at the blurb and dove right in, basically clueless.

What I found was a mystery soon after a world war, featuring a hounded mage serving as a doctor in England. Cool. And yet, for me, the charm was in the strong voice, the genuine sympathy, and the wonderful details of the time and place.

Of course, there's a lot of really horrible situations going on here, like being bound
...more
Mel (Epic Reading)
Jan 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful love story, with an engaging magic system and led by a political intrigue story. Just wonderful. I'm especially enamoured by it now that I know it's written by a Canadian who lives near me! I'm hoping that when I get my physical copy (as I read an eARC) that I can find a local event where it can be signed at! As always the highest compliment I can give any book is to purchase it for my physical library. Especially when I buy an ARC! This one is more than worthy of my shelf.

...more
Thomas
2.5 stars

Wanted to love this one but struggled to connect to its writing and characters. I most enjoyed the elements of class conflict and family strife. C.L. Polk writes about class privilege and servitude well, and the tension between our main character, Miles, and his family helped imbue Witchmark with surprise, intrigue, and betrayal. However, as other reviewers have said, the book reads like fanfiction at times, where the characters and world-building receive little development and the
...more
Acqua
Witchmark is a novel I find very difficult to sum up, because it's one of the few books which are many different things at the same time - a sweet m/m romance, a paranormal, a murder mystery, an exploration of class privilege, a novel about the consequences of war - and manage to develop all those aspects.

I have to say that the first few chapters weren't exactly easy to get into. I was a bit confused by the world at first, I didn't understand what aether was supposed to be or what was the
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Elizabeth
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book; an extraordinary first book.

Enthralling, fast-paced, and romantic, Witchmark unveils a fascinating world. Polk writes with assured ease. I can't wait for her next book!
Allison Hurd
This could have been amazing. It had so many great elements--I see why so many found it cool. But it needed to slow the eff down! We jumped around constantly from plot point to plot point, revelation to conflict in a scene with no time to orient or attach to anything. A shame, because I think there was a lot here that I would have fallen in love with if it had been built a little more.

CONTENT WARNING (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics): (view spoiler)
...more
Emma
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I spent the first half of this book wondering whether I particularly liked it and by the end I loved it! Great magic system, complex main characters, exciting denouement. Fabulous!
Anthony
This novel (its difficult to believe its a first novel, its so accomplished) is invigoratingly original, crisply and subtly and wittily written, and features a propulsive narrative peopled by richly drawn characters. Ill be very much looking forward to reading its sequel(s) upon release. ...more
Natasha
Y'all, please read this book. Cool magic and happy gays.

s/o to tor.com for sending this to me.
Lindsay
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A short fantasy with a setting inspired by Edwardian England and with a compelling protagonist.

Dr Miles Singer is a returned veteran working at a hospital as a psychiatrist. Only that's not the whole story: he's also Sir Christopher Miles Hensley, a powerful Secondary Mage, who would be bound as a living battery by his family of Mages had he not run off to war and disappeared. But the war is won, and the returning soldiers are putting an immense strain on the country's mental health facilities
...more
Aliette
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
A lovely adventure/romance featuring a shell-shocked veteran working in a hospital in the wake of a devastating war, and the mysterious and aloof being who is here to investigate the disappearance of dead souls. Very strong atmosphere and strong characters (sister/brother relationship ftw), and an intriguing magic system.
Sarah
May 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Theres a lot of hype surrounding this book, and its no wonder, having been nominated for the Nebula, Locus, and Lambda Literary Award. Having been nominated for all these awards may have been a detriment to the book in the end. I was expecting a lot. Something like my reaction to The Wolf in the Whale.

Ill be honest and say that I read most of this in one day, so it certainly started on a good note. When I finished the book, I initially rated it 4 stars, but upon reflection felt like I should
...more
wanderer (Para)
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to wanderer (Para) by: Sharade
Witchmark ended up being the book that finally got me out of my March reading slump. It's a charming, easy read, that hit precisely the right spot.

The plot is one third murder mystery, one third romance, and one third historical fantasy, which makes for a lovely mix. In a world where lower-class witches are persecuted and shut into asylums or enslaved, Miles only wants to lie low, be free, and work as a doctor in a run-down veterans' hospital...until a mysterious stranger brings in a dying
...more
Kaley
May 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from my place of employment.

2.5? Maybe?

My main problem with this is that it reads like fan fiction (I'm saying this as someone who has read more 100k+ fics than I could possibly count). When you start reading a fic, you already know who the characters are, so the author only has to give minimal development of their personalities and motivations, as well as the world they live in, because it's assumed that you already know. I feel like that's what
...more
Justine
Another book that I went into feeling lukewarm, but was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it.

Firstly, the prose is lovely. It has a crisp and fresh feel, making it hard to believe this is a debut novel. There is a certain maturity to the writing that makes it seem like the work of a more experienced novelist.

Secondly, the story is tight and well paced. Things move along very steadily, with clues to the mystery being revealed and the characters being developed in a way that feels natural
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✨    jamieson   ✨
Me and this book got off to a bit of a rocky start but once we got going we really got along. A lot of my friends loved this book and I see why - it's a really cute fantasy with an m/m relationship at the centre and a really unique setting.

Anyways, you know when you just don't have strong feelings about a book either way, like it's just a solid three star read? Yeah. We all know those are the hardest books to review, so this will be brief.

Witchmark is a fantasy set in a world that feels like a
...more
Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
I have to admit that the stunning cover of this book was what first caught my eye. Then, I read the blurb and my weakness for a world that is like our, but with magic won me over. Just imagine a world that is a reminiscent of Edwardian England, where a war has been going on, between Aeland and Laneer. Miles Singer is a doctor, but he is also born with powers that have destined him to be a slave to his family. A fate he didn't want, so he ran away, to use his skills for healing. He fought in the ...more
Denise
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
And we have to wait till 2020 for the next book????
Veronique
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5*

The cover is what attracted me first to this novel, but I ended up absolutely loving its content.

Witchmark features a world that feels very similar to our Edwardian times, but for its magic system, technologies, and resulting social classes and order. Still, with a few strokes, Polks setting is beautiful, horrible, and totally captivating. Then there is the plot, at first leisurely, but continually growing in pace, grabbing you in its wake to solve a crime, until the explosive denouement.

And
...more
unknown
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delightful magic, an intriguing mystery, a well-shaped world, sweet M/M romance, a sexy shaving scene, and bicycle chases. It's a good one.
Aleksandra
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-releases
Where do I even start...

Ive struggled a lot while reading it. The atmosphere of the story is oppressive and unsettling, its been some time since Ive read the book like that and my poor heart has tried to abandon me but Ive finished the book and Im very pleased about it.

Witchmark is adult fantasy novel, set in a world resembles our of mid 20th centuries. It feels like alternate England of 1930-50s based on customs, traditions and strong class system. The basic world building is as follows: the
...more
Robyn
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
I really liked this. Its a rich world (beware, you do get dropped in the deep end), with a compelling main character and a wonderful romance to boot. I will eagerly read the next one! ...more
Daniel
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban-fantasy, mm
This is going to be one of those reviews where I generally liked the book but am going to spend most of my time complaining. TL;DR: it was fun and kept me reading, but I found the characters somewhat frustrating and a bit stupid. :)

I don't entirely know how to categorize Witchmark. It's got a bit of a gay romance element, but the fantasy and mystery elements are more the drivers. The setting, which I liked, is kind of early 20th century, but an entirely fictitious world. (I still insist on
...more
Shaun Hutchinson
Charming and sweet, if a little rushed at the end. I also never got a handle on the world. The distinction between witches and mages. Still, overall a lovely book.
Lata
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this fast-paced story with its post-World War I analogue world. I thoroughly liked Miles Singer, and his sweet romance with Tristan Hunter. I liked the magical system and the way class was used to indicate acceptable and unacceptable magical practitioners. And though I took a while to warm up to Mile's sister Grace, I was willing to forgive some of her actions in the story when she came through at the end. And the end definitely leaves a lot of plot points hanging, so I'm eagerly ...more
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/r/Fantasy Discus...: December 2019: Witchmark 3 44 Dec 29, 2019 12:04PM  
YA Buddy Readers'...: Witchmark by C. L. Polk - Starting September 10th 2018 6 13 Sep 21, 2018 12:45PM  
The Backlot Gay B...: Witchmark (Witchmark #1) 1 15 Aug 26, 2018 03:40PM  

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The Kingston Cycle (2 books)
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If you're looking for a ticket into the far future or a faraway kingdom, science fiction and fantasy novels offer some of the best round-tr...
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“What if I don't know what to wish for?"
He smiled. "A problem we never had as children. Be selfish with your wish, Miles. Blow.”
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“It was as good as magic. It was magic. I let it seep from my fingertips when I touched him, and Tristan gripped me tight even as he shuddered. I did it again, again. I’d never touched a lover with magic. I had never been myself, even in those most private moments. Always hiding, never free. Freed, I dragged him down for another kiss.” 1 likes
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