The Midnight Bargain

by C.L. Polk @ceepolk

Publication Date: October 13, 2020

Publisher: Workman @workmanpub Erewhon Books @erewhonbooks

Genre: Fiction, Romantic Fiction, Historical Fiction

From the beloved World Fantasy Award-winning author of Witchmark comes The Midnight Bargain, a sweeping, romantic new fantasy set in a world reminiscent of Regency England, where women’s magic is taken from them when they marry. A sorceress must balance her desire to become the first great female magician against her duty to her family.

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?

Advance Praise

“C.L. Polk’s The Midnight Bargain seamlessly blends Regency class issues, subversive intrigue, and fantasy together in a heart-racing seaside romance where everything hangs in the balance. Polk’s magical elements are so integral to the romantic plot that the two are inextricable, much as all of the characters, from the leads to the seamstresses, now have a firm place in my heart.  I loved every intricate inch of The Midnight Bargain and am hoping for many more tales set in this world.” —Fran Wilde

The Midnight Bargain is exquisite. Rife with the most delightful tension, impeccably paced, and with an utterly charming cast, this is a beautiful book about forging against societal norms with spectacular magic.” —Emily A. Duncan

“A sparkling, incisive, and razor-sharp fantasy of manners. A must read for anyone who loves stories where romance and fantasy meet.” —Tasha Suri

“Incredibly timely . . . Heartfelt and witty.” —Marissa Lingen

“The Midnight Bargain is an absolute dream—at once sparkling and romantic, delightfully magical, and deeply thought-provoking. This book is a fantastical homage not only to the balls and matchmaking and strong-minded heroines of Regency romances, but the questions of gender, class, family obligation and personal ambition that lie at their beating heart.” —H. G. Parry

This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

-All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication.

So I went into this book completely blind and choose it solely by its covers. This was a first for me and I was not disappointed one bit.

This historical fiction with mystical realism is unique and diverse. A magical alternate Edwardian England world romance, set in an alternative England that packs a feminist punch.

C. L. Polk’s beautifully vivid prose featuring a diverse cast of characters, along with an intriguing magical system.

A compelling fantasy, that captures one woman’s fierce determination to go head first against the social doctrines that seek to suppress any woman who shows signs of having a powerful talent in the magical arts. With only men being allowed to practice the higher magics. Woman have to wait until they are past child bearing years, to follow their magical inspiring dreams.

Seeking to find a Grimoire that could change her life’s path Beatrice Clayborn, is conflicted with wanting to help her family but also she wants to master her magic, and become a full Mage.

Beatrice father has gone deeply into debt to allow her to presented a very first bargaining season. He is hoping that his daughter is able to catch a wealthy husband in order to save the family from impending ruin.

Women are forced into magical suppression. Collars are placed on them on their wedding day to protect any future children from having spirit possession. That could potentially happen during the women’s pregnancy.

A growing entangled relationship with the Lavan siblings, may halt her everything that she hopes for. Beatrice faced with an impossible choice when a would be love interest with one of Lavon siblings. Ianthe poses a threat to everything doesn’t want to happen to her. starts to build. Her ever growing feelings may upset her plans for independence and her quest for higher magical abilities.

Ysbeta is eager for Beatrice to teach her how to conjure, this world grant her enabling powers to bargain with spirits, who could help her remain unmarried.

The book does a wonderful job in depicted woman’s choices that are relatable even though they are set in a fantasy atmosphere. Yes there is romance, and it is portrayed perfectly given the characters internal struggles. I was completely immersed within the pages and raced straight through this novel.

“The talent for sorcery in women is a curse when it ought to be a blessing.”

“Could she give all of that up, even for him? Could she give him up, even for power?”

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

After leaving high school early, she has 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.

Ms. 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. She rides a green bicycle with a basket on the front.

She drinks good coffee because life is too short. She spends too much time on twitter. You can subscribe to her free newsletter on Substack.

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