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After spinning an enthralling world in Witchmark, praised as a "can't-miss debut" by Booklist, and as "thoroughly charming and deftly paced" by the New York Times, C. L. Polk continues the story in Stormsong. Magical cabals, otherworldly avengers, and impossible love affairs conspire to create a book that refuses to be put down.

Dame Grace Hensley helped her brother Miles undo the atrocity that stained her nation, but now she has to deal with the consequences. With the power out in the dead of winter and an uncontrollable sequence of winter storms on the horizon, Aeland faces disaster. Grace has the vision to guide her parents to safety, but a hostile queen and a ring of rogue mages stand in the way of her plans. There's revolution in the air, and any spark could light the powder. What's worse, upstart photojournalist Avia Jessup draws ever closer to secrets that could topple the nation, and closer to Grace's heart.

Can Aeland be saved without bloodshed? Or will Kingston die in flames, and Grace along with it?

345 pages, Kindle Edition

First published February 11, 2020

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C.L. Polk

15 books1,228 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 544 reviews
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,083 reviews17.3k followers
August 7, 2020
It’s hard to write about the aftermath of oppression: when a system has begun to break, but hasn’t been fully slaughtered just yet. Witchmark ended off on a strong note, with the grand conflict of the world solved and a society ready to move on. Stormsong deals with what comes next. And… well, this was actually incredible. I think this was better than book one for me, honestly.

Grace Hensley, sister to Witchmark’s main character Miles, is a politician to her core. She knows how to play the game, and up until recently, it’s been easy for her. In contrast to her fairly morally-upstanding brother and journalist Avia Jessup, she’s focused on her career, not doing what’s right. But… well, her world has been complicated, and her ambition no longer serves as a straightforward motive.

In general, this book is endlessly interesting. After a series opener that set up a complex world with multiple conflicts, this book had a lot of dynamics to play with, and did it perfectly. C.L. Polk is genuinely excellent at writing political intrigue, something that wasn’t quite as clear in book one.

It’s difficult to write a good arc for a character who has previously been a part of the oppressive system. So many of these in literature or film just feel half-assed, ignoring consequences or characterization for the sake of a quick turnaround (this especially goes for those featuring attractive white men who become love interests). But when done right, they’re wonderful—think Zuko from Avatar. The trick to arcs such as these is allowing these characters to come to terms with their role as a pawn in the system slowly, and allowing their character motivations to be redirected to a good cause. I think this arc is done exactly right, allowing her to slowly realize problems in her world in a way that feels both natural and complete.

Her romance with Avia echoes that tension; Avia is a narrative foil to her, equally ambitious but pushing for justice. In this role, she pushes her to think critically. Their dynamic features some absolutely killer tension, but is also genuinely sweet. (The international implications of both the dance scene and the bed sharing scene… excellent.)

When Grace is given a choice point between her own ambition and her love for other people, we believe it when she chooses. She tells Avia that she loves who she is around her; she must choose to become that.

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Profile Image for Mel (Epic Reading).
895 reviews274 followers
April 24, 2020
This is book 2 of Polk's debut series. I'm a little disappointed that Miles isn't our main character. Instead we get his sister. I really missed the banter between Miles and his partner in the first book. While our leading gal and her minor romantic interest (a woman) have a couple quip's; it just didn't feel the same (or as romantic) as Witchmark did. It is critical that you read book 1 (Witchmark) before you read this one. Stormsong continues the complex politics between nations, the discovery of souls/magic made in book 1, and the repercussions of war.

As stated above, the plot gets more complex the further into the Kingston Cycle Series we get. It worked fine for me, but I could see those who dislike highly politicized stories being unhappy about the focus. We have all our characters from book 1 plus some new ones; including our leading lady's semi-love interest.

Love Interest/LGBTQ+
Yes our leading lady's love interest is another woman. But if you're hoping for hot lesbian scenes, or even the cuteness we had between our two men in book 1, you're going to be disappointed. The entire side relationship felt very unnecessary. As though it was added in as an afterthought to the story. While the representation is good, and this is an 'own voices' series for Polk when it comes to sexuality; I'm just not sold on it feeling like add-on. Either develop the relationship a bit more, or just cut out anything above 'overtones of attractiveness' and flesh out the story later in series.

This is a great series. It has fun, excitement, intrigue, complexity, politics, and magic. What more could you ask for? As this is only Polk's sophomore release I am really looking forward, to not only more from this series but, other books from her. I think TOR has found a shining new voice who will help make fantasy characters less archetypal and feel more like people we might know today (just handling magical issues of their world). I look forward to seeing more of myself and other more modern representations in fantasy books.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Silvia .
635 reviews1,387 followers
Want to read
April 28, 2019
I haven't read the first book in the series yet but I can't wait to catch up so I can read this book with a F/F ROMANCE! I love SAPPHIC WOMEN and I love reading about WOMEN LOVING WOMEN wow, in fact I don't get how anyone would NOT want to read about WOMEN BEING GIRLFRIENDS!!!

Imagine shitting on a whole romantic genre, therefore shitting on a whole very real and very stigmatized and underrepresented community of women??? Imagine giving a book one star because it's going to be f/f? Ahah who the fuck does that, OH RIGHT goodreads people!!! Anyway add this book and preorder it!!
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews188 followers
March 21, 2020
Stormsong is a sequel that does something very few sequels do: it deals with the afterwards. What happens after you've defeated the Big Bad and uncovered his nefarious plots? Chances are the structures that allowed the Big Bad to rise and thrive are still standing, and that's a serious problem.

As Witchmark was one of the most nuanced takes on the outlawed magic trope and very plausibly portrayed the rich profiting from it, Stormsong is one of the most nuanced versions of the "rebellion against the establishment" plotline, and with a very interesting perspective - Dame Grace Hensley was completely part of it until a few days before, and in some ways still is. This book knows how to talk about privilege and oppression, about how this kind of discussion has to be full of grey areas and still requires steps, solutions, because injustice can't be allowed to continue. Sometimes, those solutions will have high costs.
(Forgive me the aside, but this is the very reason no trope is tired until marginalized people have had as many chances to write it.)

In this book, what truly happened with Laneer comes into focus, and there's also discussion of justice in the context of colonial wars. Everything in here is complicated, and this book handles all of it with... grace. (Sorry.) There are also advocates for witches' rights, and the Amaranthines sometimes have goals of their own, and everything is twisted enough that I couldn't even predict the solution to the murder mystery (yes, of course there's murder too!) this time.

I still didn't like this book as much as Witchmark. It might be due to my mental state, but my frustration at the ending had a lot to do with it. I hate cliffhangers, they make me want to not continue with the story, and while I get why a certain character didn't get what they deserved, I'm still really annoyed and that's never the emotion I want a book to leave me with.

The romance in this book also took more of a backseat than it did in the first. Again, I understand why this was necessary, but I still wish I would have gotten more than that, especially when I had to sit through so many scenes with Severin (why do f/f books specifically have to spend so much time on men who want to end up with the main character but obviously won't?).
It's also one of those romances in which you're told that the characters were already drawn to each other since before the beginning of the story, but you aren't shown that, not even in a flashback, so you're already starting halfway through. There is a lot to love about Avia and Grace's relationship, about how they came from somewhat similar situations and are going through similar pathways in different times, and there was even an occurrence of the "there's only one bed!" trope. I liked them, of course I did, but I still wanted more from this book.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,911 followers
December 27, 2019
I admit I was super thrilled to get ahold of this after enjoying Witchmark so much. As a beautifully written fantasy/intrigue/romance with all the hallmarks of a late King George's England, (Aleland, that is,) it was super stiff-upper-lipped, bursting with repressed emotion, and it ended on a VERY strong magical note.

This sequel, however, has a very different tone. Yes, if you're looking for an F/F romance to match the M/M romance of the first, I'm sure you'll enjoy it... eventually... but the majority of the tale is political. A storm, to be combatted by magic, leads to major societal complications. The revelations regarding the people who were ill-used in the past (read: magical underclass,) must be addressed or some major upheavals will tear the nation apart.

It took me a while to get into the book. All the politics looks good on the surface but it didn't do all that much for my attention span for a long time. It was only when the reporter came snooping around when I finally got invested. It just took so much time...

I did enjoy the rest of the tale. It picked up some. But it still remained a mild political thriller with a few late action scenes. Not bad, but not nearly as good as the first book. The high point was the romance angle. The politics, which overtook the grand majority of the novel, was merely okay. I like seeing underclasses get rights and such, but when it comes to regular enjoyment in reading, it seemed ready-made to cater to modern political leanings.

LGBT communities, mainly, written as the magical downtrodden, made more vibrant with a vital romance.

Something is bothering me, though. The politicization of gender orientation never seemed to be that big a deal to me before. It's one thing to get equal rights, but it's another to actively repress those who don't identify with the same. This book is mostly about politicization. It kinda kicked me out of the characters and reduced my enjoyment of THEIR tale. I didn't have that problem in Witchmark.

Still, not bad, all told.
Profile Image for Christine Sandquist.
183 reviews59 followers
February 21, 2020
This review and others can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks.

Stormsong by C. L. Polk lived up to Witchmark in many ways. I absolutely loved Witchmark; it’s an adorable fantasy murder mystery with a strong romance subplot woven into the narrative. The chemistry between Miles and Tristan was great, the setting was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed the murder mystery itself to boot!

I loved the romantic aspects, and I especially loved Grace’s romantic partner, Avia Jessup. However, I have one major gripe that overshadowed the whole experience for me: Grace never once had to truly face any consequences or earn redemption for her horrible actions in Witchmark. It was incredibly jarring seeing everyone pretend as though her actions had unilaterally been above-board. In fact, she’s lauded by the Amaranthians as a savior for having assisted in breaking the aether network. Although she makes a few one-off observations to herself about her past actions and reflecting on how awful they were, she ultimately never has to earn her redemption.

“He deserves all the credit for doing the right thing and staying the Amaranthines’ wrath. He was the one who acted. I just helped.”

“Did you hesitate to help him?”

I shrugged. “No. He was right.”

“Then you deserve credit too. Many people wouldn’t have moved to do the right thing so quickly. But you made the hard choice, for the good of Aeland.”

His approval warmed my cheeks. “Thank you, Your High—Severin.”

If Grace’s upbringing had been explored in slightly more depth, I think that these issues could have been avoided. It’s clear that her relationship with her father was toxic at best and abusive at worst. These are all things that truly would excuse her behavior, if they had been fleshed out into a proper theme and something that was examined critically as part of the text. While I suspect that Polk wanted to avoid going too far down the trauma hole, it ultimately resulted in a character who fell flat and never seemed to face any consequences.

I frequently found myself wishing that it were Avia rather than Grace who was the primary point of view character. Avia was more interesting and more compelling in nearly every way. She sacrificed a life of luxury, spurning her wealthy father, in order to pursue a career as a journalist. She’s dedicated to uncovering the truth behind the destruction of the aether network, and she knows that Grace is involved. As she grows closer to Grace, she challenges Grace’s privileged upbringing and preestablished notions of how normal people live – though she unfortunately doesn’t challenge Grace’s previous actions towards Miles. She was an incredibly engaging character, who I would have liked to see more of.

The murder mystery and politics of the book were slightly less engaging compared to Witchmark (perhaps the lack of bicycle chases?), but nevertheless were still intriguing to read through. It was interesting to see how the Aeland government and the Amaranthians interacted, which is something I’d been looking forward to for some time. Miles and Tristan play their part, of course, though Miles is still weakened after having destroyed the aether network. I was hoping for a few more cute moments between the two of them, but unfortunately it didn’t get much love.

All in all, it was an enjoyable read… but it just didn’t quite hit home for me. Grace as a protagonist simply didn’t work well, even if I did love Avia.

More reviews can be read on my blog, Black Forest Basilisks.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,248 reviews219 followers
March 2, 2020
Following on from the wonderful Witchmark, in this one we follow Miles' sister Grace as she struggles in her new role as Chancellor for the government that oversaw the heinous crimes that were uncovered in the previous book. The Queen, the Crown Prince, the ambassadors from the Amaranthine all have their own agendas and the imprisoned first Circle which includes Grace's father is also manipulating things behind the scenes. Grace has her brother and his partner to help and also a reporter, Avia Jessup, whom she is attracted to and is offering her a way to shed some light on all the intrigue.

Grace is a masterful but restrained operator whose already well used to political life before the book starts. The book does a great job illustrating just how much pressure she's under and the struggle for the old guard to avoid being brought to justice or to stop the near inevitable revolution that's coming.

Unfortunately this is one of those middle books of a trilogy where the story just stops at a "safe for now" point (and in this case "now" is probably defined in terms of hours), so that's a bit of a pain. I prefer more complete stories.
153 reviews1 follower
November 18, 2018
I hate it when main characters change in a series 🙁 I wanted more of Miles and Tristan.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
Author 50 books6,667 followers
November 2, 2019
Loved this sequel! Fantastical, thoughtful, and un-put-downable, I flew through STORMSONG and want the third in the series NOW.
Profile Image for charlotte,.
3,049 reviews807 followers
February 5, 2020
On my blog.

Rep: wlw mc & li, mlm side characters

Galley provided by publisher

It would be safe to say that I should have seen this coming. While I liked book 1, it was nothing special for me. And it was nothing special in aspects that are unlikely to change in book 2. So, really, this is not a surprise rating.

Stormsong continues pretty much from where Witchmark left off. The aether network has been destroyed, its workings exposed, and the Amaranthines have come to glare menacingly at the Aelanders. But now that crisis is past, it is time for Grace to deal with the aftermath and consequences. Namely political ones.

The problem I had from the start of this book was that I struggled to like Grace. In book 1, she’s introduced as a slightly overbearing, if well-meaning, privileged character, who subsequently becomes someone who is willing to enslave her brother and would rather die than to free him. So you can see why I wasn’t inclined to like her. And, ultimately, that first impression of her stayed with me throughout book 2. It’s not that she wholly doesn’t develop as a character – she does, eventually come to see the light – but she develops so slowly that I couldn’t take it. Not to mention that a lot of her characterisation seems to be in the form of:

Character: you have to stop the oppression of witches!
Grace: you don’t understand! I can’t tell everyone the truth!

So that was another sticking point for me. That Grace refuses to tell the truth about witch oppression (until the end), for seemingly no good reason? “Oh they can’t truly know how awful we were!” They can and they should, Grace. And I know this is part of her character development, that she comes to realise this is what needs to be done, but combine that with the fact I didn’t like her in the first place? It’s gonna be a struggle.

Barring the fact that I hated Grace, there wasn’t huge amounts wrong with this book. Yeah, the pacing was as bad for me as in the first book (the number of times something big happens and they just go take a nap and a leisurely meal like. Your country is in crisis! Is this the time??), but this time I was expecting that. It’s just that it didn’t help with the complete and utter boredom I felt while reading it. Because it was all politicky, which would have been great, but it was also all so dry. So unbelievably dry. I found myself skimming long passages because I was so bored. Even when a murder happened I still found myself bored because they didn’t actually do any investigating.

Things did get more interesting in the last 30 pages or so, when everything came to a head, but then the book just ended. Not even in a good cliffhanger-like way, either. It just stopped. As if the actual ending of the book was missing. Nothing was resolved, which is understandable if this is to be a trilogy, but it was just such an abrupt ending that I almost thought there was something wrong with the file. It feels less like an ending and more like the book has been arbitrarily split in two. So that’s kind of another thing that bugged me about the pacing.

But, ultimately, it’s not a surprise I felt this way – the first book should definitely have been a sign. In the end, this book is just one of those that’s not for me.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,509 reviews187 followers
February 24, 2020
In C.L. Polk’s first book in this series, Witchmark, we followed Miles, an army veteran suffering from PTSD, who becomes involved with Tristan, an Amaranthine. Miles inadvertently exposes a variety of abuses of power over the course of book one by Aeland’s noble families and longstanding injustices and brutality against Aeland’s witches. Grace, Miles’ younger sister, is awakened to the situation, and we follow her in this second book.
Grace was raised by her father to be amongst its ruling elite, and had she not seen what she had while helping Miles, she could quite easily have moved into a position of power eventually to simply sustain all the existing institutions, laws and privileges of her class.
After what felt like a slow start to this book, but was actually necessary to lay out all the issues and parties in the political mess that is Aeland in enough detail to help us understand Grace’s dilemmas as Aeland's new Chancellor, the plot really gets moving.
As Chancellor, Grace is beset by multiple, opposing parties, all while the Queen of the Amaranthines oversees Aeland's gentry’s response to her presence and the threat her ruling on their abuses can mean to Aeland.
We see Grace struggle, debating how to change existing laws or whether to compromise. This book is largely about the political situation, and isn't the swoony romance of book one, though there is the start of a relationship here, running constantly parallel to all the political intrigue.
It’s interesting to see how someone who totally benefits from the status quo struggles to blow up her long held beliefs and try to find the best way forward to reverse years of brutality. That personal struggle makes this an interesting read, and considering how this book ended, I’m interested to know how far Grace can go in making reforms in a country with a totally privileged and unwilling ruling class uninterested in its workers and imprisoned witches. I'm really hoping there's another book in this terrific series.
Profile Image for Cozy Reading Times.
384 reviews12 followers
March 5, 2023
I don't know what it is. When starting and through the most part of reading the books in this series, I quite enjoy them. But only a few weeks later, I might have already forgotten why I liked them.

Yeah, I still remember what happened (at least most of it), and I have to admit, most of it is interesting, creative, and well thought out. But I never find it particularly engaging. Something (I don't know what) kept up a wall between me and the characters. Also, I think these books are a little too plot driven for me.

Yet, there are some nice plot points, I can appreciate the sapphic romance slowly building, and there are some badass female power moves. The mystery was actually interesting, and I was happy to see a little bit of Tristan and Miles again.
Additionally, there were some interesting themes explored (though I only remember them vaguely).
Profile Image for Sarah.
62 reviews
March 30, 2020
Witchmark was one of my favourite reads from last year and the highly anticipated Stormsong was definitely worth the wait. It’s an intriguing and well-developed continuation of the story and this time it’s told from the perspective of Dame Grace Hensley. She’s a character I didn’t really like from the first book but Polk has fleshed her out brilliantly into a likeable woman. This book is quite heavy on the politics but it builds up nicely towards an exciting conclusion. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.
Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,370 reviews376 followers
March 8, 2020
Taking place literally two weeks after the absolutely stunning conclusion of Witchmark, Stormsong pops into the head of Grace, Miles’ really annoying and completely indoctrinated into the system of systematic magical prejudice—and, coincidentally, the Voice interim.

Grace was by far my least favorite character in Witchmark, mostly because she accurately ticked off every single Rich, Passingly Progressive White Woman Trope that ever walked the planet, and how despite having her nose rubbed into her prejudices she never really…got it. Not even at the end, when she helped Miles destroy everything. It was more save my brother than oh shit this is really bad this needs to be dismantled pronto.

So stepping into her POV wasn’t exactly something I wanted to do. But, I loved, loved, loved Witchmark, so into this book I went.

This isn’t a bad book—I gave it four stars for a reason that wasn’t purely sentimental—but it wasn’t as polished as Witchmark.

Grace is operating at the highest levels of society, and is forced to navigate both her actions in the literal undoing of the slavery that kept her country together (mild spoiler: Aeland’s prosperity is built upon the enslavement of witches) and keeping her people safe from an onslaught of politics and blizzards.

So the basic premise is…How do you solve an impossible problem when you are deeply complicit in its existence?

Grace’s eyes are (slowly) opened to the real horrors of the lower classes and the frustrations of her peers, as she has been isolated and inculcated into Aeland’s system for her entire life.

She is the perfect product of the system of prejudice and class structure.

And she’s finally realized that, wow, that might not be a good thing.

So anywho, Grace goes through the entire book trying to do what is right while lacking the tools to listen, act and correct. In addition to dismantling the system that has kept Aeland running for centuries, she also has to dismantle the hellscape of her own preconceptions.

Luckily, journalist and former-socialite Ava Jessup is there to open her eyes, and the two have a bit of chemistry throughout.

Plus there’s a plot of the Amaranthines (the elf-people Tristan belongs to) coming into Aeland to pass judgement upon Aeland’s many transgressions (of which invading a peaceful country for its resources and enslaving its own people are just the tip of the iceburg), to a plot to overthrow the obstinate queen in place of her impetuous son, to a mutiny among the outer rings of mages who are now in charge because their mommies and daddies are locked up to…everything else.

Anywho, while I related to Grace a lot (she was isolated from her peers by her father, who groomed her to take over his position but neglected to give her the opportunity to actually…cultivate working relationships with her age mates), I was frustrated by her total naivety.

This is a woman who was groomed from birth to assume the highest ranks of political and magical power, and while she’s very good at the technical details, she flounders at all social aspects and fails to really see what is happening outside her ivory tower. Yes, there’s a lot of growth and breaking down of mental barriers, but it was still hard to read, mainly because I wanted it to go faster.

And because it takes a lot of learning to realize that true healing takes time, it takes attentive consideration, and deep-rooted issues cannot be changed by throwing money at it (*side-eyeing Grace of Witchmark*). And within that learning and dismantling of ingrained prejudice is a lot of backsliding, because when the entire system around you stymies your growth, it’s hard to grow.

And also because I did not want the book to end like it did.

In a Sopranos-like twist, it ends mid-scene, with so much that needs to be resolved and wrapped up. It needed another solid 100 pages to finish fully, and instead it ended with the romance at the high point, where the romance had been taking a quiet seat at the back of the bus for most of the book (okay, there were quite a few times where Grace threw herself into precarious positions to protect Ava by using her political and societal wealth, but still).

So Stormsong is a solid 4.5 stars, docked .5 for its ending.

I need more!

I received an ARC of Stormsong from NetGalley for an honest review.
Profile Image for Dawn F.
494 reviews67 followers
March 18, 2021
A lovely continuation of Witchmark, in which we focus on Miles’s sister Grace, introduced to us in the first book. I’m absolutely useless at family intrigue and political ploys and barely undertood who was what and why for over half the book, but somehow it all came together by the end and the last third was a tense, explosive and captivating read, where the royal drama and the pace really got cranked up. Likeable, realistic characters, and C. L. Polk’s sure, easy pen makes this a very enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Jacqie.
1,590 reviews76 followers
February 27, 2020
Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review.

I read that the author decided that since Miles had been badly injured and needed time to heal, she decided to make his sister Grace the POV character of this book. I didn't care much for Grace in the first book and disliked her even more in this one. Maybe by the end of the book she improved, but more than halfway in I was annoyed enough that I decided to skim.

Grace is placed in a prominent political position in this book and has the problems to go with it. First, without secretly imprisoned witches being used to control the weather, the weather is... out of control. Next, the political problem of exactly how to deal with these freed witches- people are going to be upset about their loved ones being imprisoned! Next, the main power source-aether- is now defunct, what with the witches being freed and all, and people are cold, afraid and upset because they don't understand what's going on. Also, there's an Amarathine delegation which has arrived to sit in judgement of Aeland and they are NOT happy. And then there's the Laneeri delegation that had planned to cause riots and mass murder in Aeland, now under arrest. So much to do!

And Grace doesn't have much idea how to handle any of it. She's got no allies other than her badly injured brother Miles, whom she promptly presses into service because he can speak Laneeri and she needs information from the prisoners. There's one strike against her. Second strike- although Grace has been raised to be a political creature, she somehow has managed to grow up without any allies among the aristocratic witches that she is nominally in charge of, and she's in a position of weakness there. Third strike- Grace is one of the most disingenuous characters I've ever read. No sooner does she think "I'll never dragoon my hurt brother into helping interrogate prisoners AFTER HE WAS A PRISONER OF WAR HIMSELF" then she's wheedling and hinting around that she could really use some help, oh what should she do; in Mile's room. Grace isn't honest with herself, much less anyone else, what her goals are and what she will do to achieve them.

Also, she starts a romance with Avia, the reporter from the first book. Avia makes her first appearance in this book basically being a papparazza and taking pictures of the Amaranthines without their permission, knowing she'll probably piss them off. Grace sees Avia as a braver version of herself, since Avia was an aristocrat who was kicked out of her family. Avia sees Grace as all she has lost. I wasn't really convinced by their feelings for each other.

So, there are a lot of problems to unravel and frankly I felt like Grace was not equal to it, didn't even see half of what was going on in front of her. Maybe by the end of the book it got better? But halfway through the book I couldn't agree with any of her decisions and I quit.
Profile Image for Jukaschar.
161 reviews4 followers
October 26, 2022
Sadly, I didn't like the second part of the series as much as the first. The main reason is that I find the main character, Miles' formerly estranged sister Grace to be quite unlikeable.

Usually I enjoy reading about characters that are a bit more grey, but this wasn't the case here. I don't like Grace's superficiality and how she pushes a lot of important observations aside for the sake of her usual lifestyle. The vanity that permeates her life to its core made me feel a bit hopeless for the future of Aeland.

I don't want to say this is a bad book, it clearly isn't. There are some minor issues that were easier for me to overlook in the first part of the series, like for example few variations in sentence structure in some chapters, but this is not really that important. I just didn't enjoy the book that much.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lis.
57 reviews6 followers
April 27, 2019
If people think they can "1-Star" a book without having read it, because it doesn't meet their levels of m/m-romance fetish... then, let me take this chance to give it 5 Stars in advance to support
- an incredibly talented author
- an incredibly beautiful series
- an incredibly strong, faceted female protagonist

Thanks for coming to my TED-Talk.
Profile Image for Beth Cato.
Author 108 books488 followers
February 13, 2020
I received an advance copy via NetGalley.

I greatly enjoyed Witchmark last year when I read it as a Nebula finalist. I was quite curious about how the sequel would play out. Polk established a fascinating, original world of powerful magic, devastating storms, and snarled, vicious political power plays. The setting is quite Victorian in inspiration (but not steampunk). The magic, I really loved. Weather magic has been used in other books, but this take feels new. The queer rep is fantastic, too. Diversity shines here.

To my surprise, though, I had a hard time getting into Stormsong. The refreshers about previous events weren't quite enough, leaving me lost for a good while, and the plot cranked up so slowly that I wondered if I should stop completely. The perspective had shifted in this book to Grace, the politically-savvy sister of Miles. I enjoyed her character but things just couldn't get going. Fortunately, I pressed on, and I'm glad I did. Things really picked up halfway through, and the last bit zoomed along, complete with a fantastic ending. As with the first book, the twisty-turny plot is brightened by a deftly-handled romance.

While not as consistently enthralling as the first book, Stormsong absolutely came through in the end.
Profile Image for Linda ~ they got the mustard out! ~.
1,555 reviews100 followers
July 3, 2022
I'm still flummoxed by this series. A couple of the holes from the previous book are filled in here, but others appeared to take their place.

Grace is not a particularly likable character. She's very driven, politically, and at least her heart is in the right place, in that she wants reform for the witches who are being unjustly prosecuted. So I can't exactly dislike her goals. Her motives, despite being in her head the whole time, aren't particularly clear. She certainly knows what is being done is wrong, and she's strategic enough to know when and how to reveal her cards. But she's seriously lacking in empathy and compassion. There's a part where she looks back on her life and upbringing and realizes she has no friends to speak of, not even politically (which is seriously shortsighted of her dad, who is supposed to be this great mastermind but gave his daughter zero supporters of her own) - and then on the very next page when a young woman (of no political importance) says something nice to Grace, she brushes it aside and sweeps on by because she has more important things to do. And for being so smart, she's incredibly dumb.

Seriously, though, her dad's been on his last leg since the beginning of book one, and he hasn't croaked yet. Just die already. Geez. And while we're on this topic, who wrote the blurb for this book? Grace has the vision to guide her parents to safety... Um, her mom's dead and her dad can't die soon enough. I think "parents" is supposed to be "country". 🤦🏻‍♀️ And speaking of her mom, how does she not know that And for that matter,

I also find it really hard to believe that It was nice to finally clear that up, but it felt like a retcon, honestly, even though it was what I suspected would end up being the case when I finished the first book. It's just that you never see any of these characters asking the relevant questions to come to these realizations. It's just suddenly Grace is admitting it out of nowhere, so she knew all along, even while she pretended not to before. If she'd never seen what was going on in the asylums, she'd still be protecting all these secrets with her life.

Once again, the romance is mostly incidental and very, very offscreen. It was set up a little better than Miles and Tristan in the first book, and I really liked Avia, who actually knew what she was doing. Finally, a competent character. I'm just not sure what she sees in Grace.

I'm still waiting to see what exactly it was Miles's landlady saw in Grace's tea leaves in the first book that was so horrible she had to go and break the cup. Because nothing's really happened to her that hasn't been resolved in a couple of pages. I guess breaking the cup worked? So far, the only really surprising thing to be revealed was learning what exactly the heera, the mounted steeds of the Amarathine, really are.

This one just plodded along for a good 75%, not really getting interesting until the last quarter, which flew by. I was considering giving it a 2.5 rating before then, but that bumped it up to a solid three.

Next and last book is centered on Robin, a side character I like a lot so far, so I'm hopeful that one will be better.
Profile Image for Stephen.
559 reviews
March 10, 2020
I liked this, but not as much as I liked book 1.

This is a book about a privileged woman slowly learning about her privilege and trying to correct it. It's painful at times. She gets better, but I'm not entirely sure that I bought it because it's not a gradual transition.

Honestly, I think the flawed main character exposed the authors flaws. All the flaws were in book 1, but I just didn't care. This is still trying to be light and fluffy, a breeze to read, don't think too much about it. Unfortunately, I started to think too much about it. Though, only at times.
Profile Image for Alex Alden.
99 reviews3 followers
December 19, 2018
I absolutely *loved* the first book, but the fact that this one is changing main characters puts it immediately into my "will not read" pile. I was really looking forward to having more story for Miles and Tristan.
Profile Image for Vigasia.
396 reviews20 followers
October 30, 2020
3,5 stars rounded up.

I like this book a little less than the first. I guess I liked Grace more as not PoV character, but she grew on me at the end. I will continue with the series.
Profile Image for Banshee.
472 reviews48 followers
March 4, 2021
The second installment in the series definitely expanded the world-building and added more political intrigue. It focused, among others, on the fallout of the discoveries made in Witchmark. The change of POV gave the reader a better insight into the court intrigue and thus, helped form a fuller picture of the situation.

The atmosphere remained well-written, though it lost a bit of its strength.

My biggest problem with this sequel was the main (and only) POV character. While it provided a new perspective, I didn't like Grace in Witchmark as I found her to be deceptive, indecisive and too narrow-minded to understand people less privileged than her. I was disappointed when she replaced Miles as the main character and this book failed to make me warm up to her. I found it difficult to understand her motivations and felt that she was untrustworthy. Because I didn't like her and didn't really root for her happiness, I also felt completely indifferent towards the romantic thread.

When it comes to other characters, I really enjoyed the sneak peeks into how the lives of Miles, Tristan and Robin continued after the finale of the first book. They are wonderful characters and I wish they were more in focus.

All in all, I was rather disappointed in the sequel of the brilliant first book.
Profile Image for Mae Crowe.
223 reviews88 followers
December 30, 2020
These books are just so good to read in winter, and I just!!! <3

Stormsong is a direct follow-up to Witchmark, following Miles's sister, Grace, as she struggles with expectations and who she wants to be in the midst of political upheaval. It's a story filled with conspiracy, manipulation, and breaking out of destructive cycles.

The characters are just as engaging in this installment. Grace is a wonderful POV character, and I loved the chance to get to know Avia more. The story itself was less interesting and less engaging that the first book, but that might just be personal preference - Witchmark felt more active, somehow. I'd almost characterize Stormsong as political intrigue, which is something I like, but it was a little too slow for my tastes.

A delight to read and a great winter tale!
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,906 reviews1,235 followers
August 26, 2021
Apparently 3 years was too long to wait between reading Witchmark and Stormsong because I have forgotten pretty much everything that happened in the first book, oops! As I started Stormsong, I was very confused: who are all these people? Who are the Amaranthines, and why do they care about Aeland or Laneer? What’s going on? Nevertheless, I did my best to forge on and trust that C.L. Polk would do her best to deliver a good story to me even if I had already let her down.

So no “previously, in Witchmark” this time … instead, we pick up with our narrator, Grace Hemsley, arriving at the capital city of Aeland. She is not alone: she comes with a cohort of Amaranthines, legendary beings of power beyond even the mages that secretly raised Aeland into greatness with their use of aether. Grace and her brother Miles, along with his Amaranthine lover Tristan, destroyed the aether network because it was evil; it trapped the souls of poor Aelanders (and Laneeri) instead of letting them pass on to the Solace, the afterlife. This act has plunged Aeland, its power and transportation systems utterly dependent on aether, into disarray just as the worst storms of the winter bear down upon the country. Although Grace is initially arrested when she arrives in the capital, political machinations quickly reverse this and restore her to being the Queen’s Chancellor. In this position, Grace must walk the knife’s edge between pleasing the queen, satisfying the Amaranthine demands for justice for Laneer, and finding a way to free the imprisoned, oppressed witches of Aeland and save her country from a disaster she is at least partially responsible for making worse….

I got serious “white woman feminist” vibes from Grace almost immediately, and I am here for it. Grace stands at the nexus of great hereditary wealth and privilege, along with political power granted by royal decree. She is also a skilled mage. As a result, she is very insulated from the struggles of common Aelanders and from the witches with whom she shares magical abilities but not magical privileges. Grace clearly wants to “do the right thing.” But like so many people of privilege in our society (myself included), “the right thing” can be hard to discern. Grace proposes to her foil and sapphic love interest, Avia Jessup, that change must be incremental. This is pretty much exactly what white people, especially white women activists, have said to people of colour forever—we hear you, we hear your issues, but you need to give us time to change the system. Avia, Robin, and the others who lack Grace’s privilege don’t see it that way.

This is a theme Polk returns to throughout the book. There is a wonderful argument between Grace and Robin while the latter is doing an autopsy, and a similarly chilling discussion between Grace and Avia over breakfast at the former’s ancestral home. Avia in particular is such an interesting character, because she represents an extreme form of Grace—born into privilege, albeit much less than Grace’s, Avia literally gave it all up because she perceived the injustice of her position. Now, Polk isn’t trying to say that the only ethical decision is to divest oneself completely of all power—after all, it is clear that Grace can achieve good in her office. But I appreciate that Stormsong tackles this issue of the “white moderate” in such a compelling and poignant way.

Time and again, I was impressed with Polk’s choices and what they meant as the story unfolds. A lot of the plot was predictable, but Grace’s reactions weren’t always predictable. For example, at one point a character proposes marriage to her. I was really expecting it to go one way, but it goes the other instead—and the results to that choice weren’t what I was expecting at all. So even though I saw a lot of the plot coming from far off, there were still plenty of surprises and twists that made me enjoy the mystery and intrigue parts of this novel.

That’s really what this is at the end, of course: it’s a novel of political intrigue, and politically-motivated mysteries, that masquerades as a fantasy story. It has magic and magical beings, yes, but other than that it’s really about the unrest that accompanies social and technological change. It turned out to be exactly what I was looking for.

Also, I’m not huge on romance, yet Polk managed to totally get me shipping Grace and Avia. It helps that Grace delivers her father an ultimatum regarding Avia being off-limits—that’s delightfully overprotective in a not-toxic sense. But really, it’s their scenes together. Polk invests in these characters such chemistry that even I was cheering for them to be together. (No spoilers.)

Finally, I love how Polk hints that there is so much more happening that we don’t yet know. The Amaranthines are shady AF. They are supposedly “good guys” yet one of them is very clearly a glowering villain, and Grand Duchess Aife is obviously hiding something about the Solace from Grace. What is it? I guess I need to read Soulstar to find out, preferably before I completely forget this installment!

Originally posted on Kara.Reviews, where you can easily browse all my reviews and subscribe to my newsletter.

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Profile Image for Amanda.
288 reviews76 followers
April 7, 2020
God damnit! That's not an ending! That's not even a cliffhanger! That's throwing all the loose ends up in the air and screaming "WOOOO!" at them! Rrrgh! Four stars because the book was great and it made me anxious with tension but that ending is AGH NO WHAT DON'T STOP WAI--
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