Luna Station Quarterly is a speculative fiction magazine featuring stories by emerging women authors.
Now in our 7th year!


by Jennifer Lyn Parsons

Hello dear readers!

We made it through the wilderness! Ain’t no mountain high enough! We come to you with awesome news!

Issue 030, after a significant delay, is now live and ready for you to read! The stories are beautiful, touching, creative, magical, mysterious things of wonder and I couldn’t be prouder to get them out to you.

Life takes twists and turns, however, and some things can’t be helped. Suffice to say, delays like this are not something I plan on repeating any time soon. However, I will say a huge THANK YOU to everyone for your messages of support. LSQ is not going anywhere and all and sundry are safe and sound.

And now, the stories! Start of with the lovely “The Joy of Baking” by Holly Lyn Walrath and then allow it to carry you into the next story and the one after that and onward.

Want to support LSQ and the authors we publish? You can do that easily! Here are a couple ways:

  • Buy a copy of the issue! Paperback (discount code: 594VATZS gets you 10% off) and Digital Editions are available (and if you buy direct from us, we get the most support).
  • We have a Patreon page. Some wonderful souls have joined us there and you can, too. Rewards are there waiting for you!
  • Spread the word! Tweet, post, link, etc. The more people that find us, the better.

Thank you all once again for supporting us! Now go read some great stories!


Hello everyone.

Thank you so much for your patience with our delay. We just got the print proof in, the digital versions of the issue are in production and we should be live with the new issue by July 1.

Everyone is fine, life is still a bit off-kilter, and we can’t wait to get this new issue out the door and in your waiting hands.

Thanks again for your kindness and patience. Keep an eye out for our next announcement!


by Jennifer Lyn Parsons

Hello dear readers!

There has been a massive, ongoing emergency within the LSQ family. Everyone is safe, but the repercussions have meant that our blog has been on a temporary hiatus.

Even worse, Issue 030 has been delayed until next week.

My most humble apologies for this. In our 8 year history, this has only happened one other time and I do my personal best to make sure such a thing only happens very rarely.

Be sure to keep an eye out for the issue and some announcements soon!

Baba Yaga

by Cathrin Hagey

Baba YagaOn April 26, 1986 reactor number four at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station in northern Ukraine exploded, throwing up enough radioactive material to contaminate much of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe. Thousands of people were evacuated from the 30 km Exclusion Zone, abandoning homes, schools, entire villages, and a way of life.

Inside and outside the Exclusion Zone, the reduction of human activity has led to the rebound of plants and animals, particularly large mammals, since the initial loss of life. The area is regularly evaluated by government workers and researchers from around the world; it is explored, illegally, by risk-taking adventurers in what seems to be this millennium’s new frontier—abandoned cities more phantasmagorical, with their crumbling infrastructure and skeletonized machinery, than a wild west ghost town. The Exclusion Zone has also become the home of old women who defied orders to remain in Kiev after resettlement, or who refused to leave in the first place. These women are now referred to as “the Babushkas of Chernobyl,” and the eponymous film about them, directed and produced by Holly Morris and Anne Bogart, focused a light on their enigmatic lives.

The Babushkas are beyond child-bearing age and its risks. Their village homes are, in many cases, mere huts. In their isolation they remind me of the Russian fairy tale character Baba Yaga, for what is a crone but a woman alone, or with one or two of her kind, deep in the woods, in a hermit’s hut with hung-dry herbs and an iron kettle bubbling on the fire, spitting drops of the broth of some creature’s bones.

Baba Yaga is the same as Mother Nyx, the mother of the world, another Life/Death/Life Goddess. The Life/Death/Life Goddess is always a creator Goddess. She makes, fashions, breathes life into, she is there to receive the soul when the breath has run out.¹

Ironically, the grandmothers of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone are robust compared to their age cohorts who did not remain and have, in many cases, died from broken hearts. These women are in their 70s and 80s, they farm and hunt, brew moonshine, bake, and smoke. Their strength and humor belies the invisible danger that lurks in the water, the soil—everywhere. They aren’t unaware of the risks, just not impressed by them. They lived through the purges of Stalin and the horrors of WWII and are determined to continue living in their homeland, applying their skills and their accumulated wisdom to the job of living as their mothers and grandmothers had. While they live, they are reminders of the healing power of being where you most want to be and doing what you most want to do.

In the Exclusion Zone, the danger of radiation, the invisible omnipresent menace, is real and deadly. And like Baba Yaga’s brand of magic, it attracts uninvited visitors willing to risk harm in order to seek the thrill of exploring hidden wild places where beasts and mysterious old women live.

Baba Yaga’s domain is the forest, widely acknowledged as a traditional symbol of change and a place of peril, where she acts as either a challenger or a helper to these innocents who venture into her realm. In Western tales, these two roles are typically polarized, split into different characters stereotyped as either “witch” or “fairy godmother.” Baba Yaga, however, is a complex individual: depending on the circumstances of the specific story, she may choose to use her powers for good or ill.²

It is tempting to think that the wild place of the Exclusion Zone, where it can be imagined life is reduced to its enchanting elements, is a good place to be. The kind of temptation that emanates from Baba Yaga’s realm.

…one of the traditional Russian fairy tale endings, used in lieu of the more optimistic, “…and they all lived happily after…” [is] “they all lived as happily as they could, until they died.”³

A line that applies to each of us, inside and outside of Baba Yaga’s wood.

  1. Pinkola Estés, Clarissa. Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype (New York: Ballantine Books, 1992), 114.
  2. Pilinovsky, Helen. “Russian Fairy Tales: Baba Yaga’s Domain.” Journal of Mythic Arts, accessed April 22, 2017,
  3. Pilinovsky, Helen. “Russian Fairy Tales: Baba Yaga’s Domain.” Journal of Mythic Arts, accessed April 22, 2017,

Linda Medley and the Fabulous “Castle Waiting”

by Jennifer Lyn Parsons

I’ve been a lapsed comic reader lately, which has made me a bit sad. I thought I might share a favorite of mine with you, in hopes that talking about it will rekindle my interest. If this goes well, expect to see quite a bit more comic talk, because oh have I got some awesome comics to share. But I digress.

I’m here to talk to you about Linda Medley and Castle Waiting which is one of my hands down favorite comics of all time. This book is one of those rare treasures that can be summed up with a simple word: charming. Most books you might describe thusly tend to teeter on the edge of crying, but not Castle Waiting. Here, there is both sly, deftly handled humor, and glimpses of deep emotions and hurt, but all wrapped in a package so irresistible and full of warmth that you’ll keep turning the pages and wish there was more when you get to the end.

Now that I’ve started what amounts to a sales pitch, I’ll step back a bit. Castle Waiting is set in a seemingly typical fairy tale medieval-style world, but in many ways it feels quite modern. Perhaps it’s the way the characters are portrayed, even the less human looking ones of the bunch. Speaking of which, among the denizens of this crumbling old castle, there is a stork who runs the place and tries to keep up with repairs. There’s an imp who taunts a saucy, bearded nun (she’s amazing and quite willing to share a sandwich with him). There are a load of equally interesting and wonderfully rendered characters, but I don’t want to spoil the fun of discovering them on you. And then there’s the castle itself, full of sprites and brownies and the stories it holds in its bones.

“A fable for modern times, Castle Waiting is a fairy tale that’s not about rescuing the princess, saving the kingdom, or fighting the ultimate war between Good and Evil, but about being a hero in your own home.” That’s what the official description says and perhaps that’s part of what pulls me toward this book, the idea of being a hero of the every day. From Lady Jain, pregnant with another man’s child and on the run from her husband, to the quiet Iron Henry, to the sweet Simon, all the characters have their own special stories and Linda Medley draws and writes them with wonderful realism.

Linda Medley is currently working on the next installment of this marvelous book and I cannot wait. But there’s a hitch in the proceedings, the bane of any artist or writer: Linda has some hand problems going on. What’s more, she’s another wonderful artist who makes her own way through the world and dances that financial tightrope along with her fellow freelancers.

So, if you go out and read Castle Waiting and love it the way I do, I highly encourage you to support Linda and her work.

She’s got a Patreon, a GoFundMe, and you can buy her artwork on her Etsy shop. Of course buying copies of Castle Waiting and giving them to everyone you know would be lovely, too.

I hope by now you can tell how passionate I am about this comic book. I hope you go check it out soon and definitely let me know if you fall for it like I did, long ago and far away.

Review: Q-T-Pies, by Balogun Ojetade

I was gonna talk to you all about all sorts of topics related to this book, like intra-race relations, misogyny, black women in horror, all those good things…but the more I read Q-T-Pies the more I just kept thinking…

“This isht is [bleep] up.”

Repeating over and over again like a broke record. Now, that’s not a bad thing—in fact, that was pretty much my first thought reading Beloved as a teenager. Yes, with swear words. Well, probably more like “this mess is [bleep] up.” But you know what, I like it.

Q-T-Pies is book zero in the Savannah Swan files. Who that glorious person is you’ll learn later, but for now let’s talk about this early case. The novel starts out with a poignant short essay regarding the emergence of black horror in the current United States administration, and regardless of what side of the spectrum you fall on if any, it’s a good read. From there, we learn this story is set in Atlanta, and a new pop-up restaurant has opened. Run by three incredibly intelligent, alluring, sexy, beautiful black women, this new joint specializes in selling barbecued pot pies…wait a minute.

Barbecue pot pies? A pop-up diner? Atlanta? Wow, this may be the southernest I’ve felt in a while. In previous reviews of horror works set in the south, I have advocated doing something a lil’ different–no more bayou witches and oversimplified witches for a while. So for a story to take place in modern Atlanta and tackle with the issue of fad dining and gentrification? Fantastic. Oh, if you’re not sure what a pot pie is, well, it’s…a pastry dish filled with veggies and or meats. Damn, I made myself hungry. The first half of the novel deals with feedings of various kinds and does a great job of assaulting your senses with smells, tastes, and interesting visuals that will make your mouth water and occasionally make you gag..

Forgive me for straying, but we learn that our intrepid hero reporter Derrel Lacey is on the beat. At this point you might be thinking, “hmm, we focus on female-centric works here” and yes, the protagonist is a man. But this plot is very much driven by women to the point where poor Derrel might as well be a side character in his own story. Ojetade gets us involved and does the great trick of revealing who the real protagonist here is as we start the second act into the third. Hint, but it ain’t the three aforementioned ladies…

Oh yes, what about these alluring sirens? Well, would it be a spoiler if I told you these immaculately described creatures are up to something shady? How about they are evil? Okay, they’re…well, they’re not vampires. I wish the book had expounded more upon their true natures because as described, they are basically perversions of science and magic wrapped up in mythology and it’s a little much. All I’m saying is I can see us hashtagging this on Instagram in the future. But how do we know they’re evil Because they are repeatedly described as inhumanly beautiful and intelligent.

Okay, that’s not fair. I don’t think it was Ojetade’s intention to set up these successful black women as the antagonists to the not-very-successful and kind of bumbling black man. This had me going back and forth for a bit–we have seen the trope before of ambition making people evil, but something weird happens when it’s implied to women. It implies that if women start reaching beyond their means, some kind of vicious karma and/or demon is going to smack them back to earth like a “oh no you don’t!” This can be spun around as symbolism like, say, patriarchy or aspects of kyriarchy holding women down. Here, it’s kind of an accident but just looks…well, it looks that way. Fortunately, as I said this book is very female-driven, so we are presented with a number of character archetypes that will let you focus on Ini, Dalmilola, and Chioma as the villains.

So, you might be wondering by now, seems pretty stock but good so far. What’s the messed up part? The isht being bleeped up is when we start to unravel just what the three sirens are, and their plans for Derrel. They’re not good plans. Similar to when I mention Beloved above, the messed up part is the cruelties inflicted upon Derrel and other characters is pretty shocking. Would it be more shocking if this involved white characters? Not more shocking but definitely on a different level. Q-T-Pies exists in a very real universe where we don’t have hashtag-woke conversations about supporting black business and community. No, here we have three black…beings inflicting damage on another black person, and a black female hero to save the day (that is Savannah Swan, if you haven’t caught my drift).

Unfortunately, we meet Savannah proper quite late in the novel, so to talk too much about her would be massive spoilers. And that would suck, because I definitely think Q-T-Pies is worth picking up. It is a quick read and will give you plenty to think about, salivate over, and maybe keep you up at night the next time a hot, trendy new restaurant opens up in your neighborhood. You just never know sometimes…pick it up from Amazon here, and if you’re ready to just delve into the weird world of Savannah Swan, start here with A Haunting in the SWATS


Food: More Than for Eating

by Kristen Julia Anderson

A new crock-pot, rice cooker and hand mixer sit above the cabinets in our kitchen. A brand new, still unused food processor is tucked in a corner between an end table and a kitchen table. My husband and I live in a small 1 bedroom apartment and the kitchen (refrigerator, sink, and stove) is built into one side of its hallway. The other side is a wall and the door to our bedroom. Cabinet space is scarce, as is counter space. We make it work though and, when time allows, cooking is one of our favorite hobbies to do together despite the space limitations of our hallway kitchen.

When we first started dating, we decided to make homemade potato pancakes together. I didn’t even have a stand-up grater, just a small hand-held one that is more meant for shredding cheese more than anything else. Making the potato pancakes took double the time we anticipated, but it was time we spent together, getting to know one another. Food is a part of our relationship: making food, eating food, and even talking about food.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why, when we aren’t sure what we want to watch on TV, we’ll search for a food show to watch. They are not only enjoyable to watch, but they introduce us to new cuisines, educate us about food and food prep, and inspire us to try new flavors – to be bolder, more comfortable with our own cooking, which is especially important given our dairy and gluten restrictions.

Some of our favorites food shows to watch include Chopped, Good Eats, Cutthroat Kitchen, and Parts Unknown. Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episode about Thailand was an undeniable influence on our decision to visit Chiang Mai during our honeymoon to the country. It’s also where I realized my food bravery is far less than my new husband’s.  I may have tried durian (a fruit that when opened smells like dirty socks) but I drew the line at eating insects – he, on the other hand, went for it.  Luckily we never came across a restaurant serving the blood soup Mr. Bourdain eats on the episode.

Food – it fills our bodies with nutrients, and our minds with memories so strong they become a part of not just what we eat, but how we relate and connect to others. Food is a central to so many families and traditions. It unites new friends and can build relationships between strangers. Trying foods, especially those unfamiliar or from a different culture, is a way to reach beyond ourselves and embrace the beauty of our differences.  I hope that the food my husband and I make, serve, and eat as we grow as a couple not only serves to strengthen our relationship, but that we, as people, are enlightened, continually, through the diverse flavors and food of our vast world.


The Waiting Place or What to Do When You’re Trapped in Space

by Elora Powell

There’s a spread in Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go!, that’s always given me the most unsettling feeling. That’s not totally unusual. For brightly-colored, whimsical children’s books, Dr. Seuss’s body of work has a fair share of moments that veer off into the uncanny. But this moment isn’t the creepy, haunting Pale Green Pants with Nobody Inside Them, or the vaguely threatening advances of The Cat in the Hat.

No, Oh, The Places You’ll Go! takes me into the straight up existential dread of a purposeless, empty life. One minute, you’re looking at the colorful illustrations and bright, hopeful prose that have become a staple at all high school graduations; the next, you’re immersed in the eerie, twilight world of The Waiting Place.

We all find ourselves trapped in the waiting place from time to time- those moments in our lives where we are in between places and things, the uncertain formlessness where it’s impossible to see what’s ahead. There’s a certain helpless horror to it, and yet at the same time there’s also a kind of resigned peacefulness to the waiting. It’s one of those tensions that makes us human, I think.

One of the main functions of science fiction is to magnify our paradoxes, and confusion, and issues in order to better explore them.

One of the main tropes used to explore the alienation of waiting is the stranded-in-space (or time) plot line.

The very last episode of Stargate: SG-1 finds the team stranded in both space and time when Lt. Col. Sam Carter uses an Asgard device to create a time bubble around their ship to protect it from enemy fire. SG-1 is trapped for fifty years watching the beam from the enemy ship creep closer to their hull, while they wait for Carter to find a way to get them free.

It is compelling, in an achingly melancholy way, to watch the characters adjust to the new normal. To see them live out their lives, and experience the ensuing cycles of love and joy, life and death, sanity and insanity—all in  the midst of being stuck waiting for the rest of the cosmos to move around them.

The DC animated TV universe of the 1990s and early 2000s, (Batman, Superman, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, etc.), never shied away from the deeper themes of science fiction and fantasy.

In the first part of the Justice League episode, “Hereafter”, Superman appears to have died. In the second part, he is revealed to have been teleported to a future earth with a red sun. Powerless, and with only the immortal and reformed villain Doc Savage for a companion, Superman is forced to come to terms with the limits of his mortality while in a dead and barren time.

In nearly complete opposition to these deep, solemn reflections, there is Mystery Science Theater 3000, or MST3K, (the newest iteration of which hit Netflix on April 14th). The ridiculous narrative of a man and his robots stranded in a satellite above earth by evil scientists weaves its way between the segments of B-movies that said man and his robots heckle. While the campy humor is plentiful and purposeful, there is something inspiring in Joel’s, (later Mike, and now Jonah), ingenuity and indomitable Midwestern snark in the face of an isolating and annoying situation.

I may not be stranded in space watching bad movies, or in time waiting for a better past or a more favorable future, but I am in The Waiting Place right now. I’m waiting to hear back from internships so I can know how and when I can move forward with my education. The question these far-fetched, science fiction situations forces me to ask myself is, what will I do while I’m in the waiting place? The question it makes all of us ask is, will we let the waiting consume us, or will we find a way to carry on in spite of the waiting, or even in the waiting?

Author Interview: Tabitha Lord

by Wendy Van Camp

Author Tabitha Lord is a woman who wears many hats. Not only is she a science fiction author, but she is also a senior editor for Book Club Babble and working on a non-fiction collection of stories connected with an awareness campaign for children with pediatric cancer.

Let me take a moment to introduce myself. I currently live in Rhode Island, a few towns away from where I grew up. I’m married, have four great kids, two spoiled cats, and lovable lab mix. My degree is in Classics from College of the Holy Cross, and I taught Latin for years at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School. Yes, I’m a dinosaur! I also worked in the admissions office there for over a decade before turning my attention to full-time writing. It’s worth noting that I didn’t publish my first novel until after I turned forty, so for anyone thinking of a career change, it’s never too late!

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I loved to write stories as a child. In fact, when I was sorting through some of my grandma’s things after she passed, I came across a whole collection of poetry and stories I’d written. It was very sweet. In my professional life I’ve written some ad copy, blog posts, and done some editing for school publications, but I had very little time or energy for creative writing.

When my children got older and the dynamics of my family shifted, I began to consider changing careers. While I pondered what was next for me professionally I took on a yearlong writing project at work thinking it would give me the change of pace I needed. Turns out it was one of the most satisfying things I’d ever done in my career. Since I was in the habit of writing every day for work, I challenged myself to write creatively every day as well. Lo and behold, when the report was finished a year later, so was my first manuscript.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I’ve been asked to describe my book in ten words. Here’s what I came up with: Science fiction meets romance meets survival fiction meets military thriller!

What inspired you to write this book?

Thoughts for my stories come to me in different ways. Sometimes it’s a character that appears in my head, fully formed – personality, career, physical appearance, and name – ready for me to create a story around. Other times, there’s an interesting scene that builds up in my imagination over time. Or sometimes there’s a theme or idea I want to explore.

With Horizon, I had two distinct parts of a story floating in my head. The first was the opening crash sequence. It was more basic at the time of its inception – just a pilot who crash lands on a planet, and a young woman, in some kind of trouble, who saves his life.

The second part was more complex. I was playing with the idea of what would happen if one segment of an already small isolated population evolved differently, either naturally or by design, from the other. What if some had gifts that enabled them to imagine a different kind of future for themselves and their world? What if they were empathic and could sense each other’s emotions and thoughts? What if some of them could heal with their mind? How would the unchanged people feel about their neighbors? It created such an interesting premise I knew I had to find a way to make it into a story.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

There’s a big chunk of survival fiction in the first part of Horizon. Caeli is living alone in the wilderness, fending for herself, and living off the land. I grew up in a rural neighborhood until I was twelve years old and spent most of my playtime outdoors, in the woods, exploring and climbing trees. I distinctly remember the smell of pine, the quiet in the forest after the first snow, the taste of wild blueberries. I tried to call on my own childhood memories to give Caeli’s experience authenticity. And as an adult, I’ve had a few adventures that influenced this particular aspect of the story! Over the years, I’ve accompanied students on several class trips. We’ve hiked the rain forests in Costa Rica, paddled dozens of nautical miles in the open ocean off the coast of Maine, and camped in the mountains of West Virginia. I have actually tended a cooking fire, carved utensils, found edible plants, bathed in the ocean, and slept outdoors.

I’m also a medical school dropout! But my experience in medical school, and for years as an EMT, I think gives Caeli some authority as a healer. And when I wasn’t sure about a particular treatment, I’d call my brother-in-law, who did finish medical school and is a practicing physician!

What authors or books most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

This is a tough one. I love genre fiction and my shelves are filled with everything from horror, to military thrillers, to historical romance. I also appreciate good literary fiction with characters I remember long after I turn the last page. I just enjoy a good story, no matter the genre or style!

Some of my all-time favorites include The Stand by Stephen King. To me this is the ultimate apocalypse story, full of disquieting horror. Harry Potter is at the top of the list. Such incredible world building and rich characters! Outlander is fabulous. Diana Gabaldon’s dialogue is beautiful, and the relationship between Jamie and Claire is so complex and lovely. Recently I read, and loved, The Goldfinch. Literary fiction at its best! The Snow Child also really stayed with me after I finished reading. As I write this, I am staring at my library shelves and thinking, how can I leave off Barbara Kingsolver or Isabel Allende! Or my favorite Steinbeck novel East of Eden! I learn something different from each of these writers, but mostly I’m just incredibly grateful for the pleasure of reading their work. If someone asks me this question next week, I’ll probably have an entirely different list.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The immensely talented Steven Meyer-Rassow did both the cover art and interior design for Horizon. I wanted to collaborate with someone whose style and artistry resonated with my own. Every single image of Steven’s that I could find was stunning, and when we discussed my project, I knew he really understood my vision. One of the things we talked about initially was the fact that Horizon would be a trilogy, and we’d like to “brand” the series somehow. So in addition to amazing cover artwork, Steve created a title treatment that will carry through and give all the future Horizon books a cohesive look.

Another thing we discussed was that while Horizon firmly belongs on the shelf with other sci-fi novels, it definitely crosses genres. The cover, therefore, needed to have wide appeal. It needed to be intriguing and eye-catching enough for non-sci-fi readers to pick it up, yet stylistically still fit in with its main genre.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Oh, for sure! First, finish something. A bad draft is better than no draft. Second, keep writing even when you feel stuck. Good habits will help you work through the blocks. But if I had to pick the most important thing for new writers it would be this: a first draft is nowhere near the finished product. This was shocking to me as a first-time novelist – although it shouldn’t have been! I knew edits were going to happen, but I had no idea how much work they would be. If I had to estimate, I would say that writing the first draft was only about one-third of the work. Editing and working through the business side of publishing made up the other two-thirds. What’s fun though, or at least what’s satisfying about the post-first-draft phase, is transforming the story from a rambling, exhaustive, stream of consciousness manuscript, to a work that has structure, flow, and even some artistry. I’ve learned so much about the craft of writing through editing.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

The most important thing for me, as a writer, is to tell a good story. I write because I have to get these stories out of my head and onto the paper, but I also write for my readers and fans. I hope people fall in love with my characters and lose themselves in the plot. I hope they’re transported to different worlds. I hope they open my book and time flies away. This is what I want when I read, and I hope I can provide that experience for my fans!

Tabitha Lord
North Kingstown, RI



Cover Artist: Steven Meyer-Rassow
Publisher: Wise Ink


Book Review: Brother’s Ruin (Emma Newman)

by KC Maguire

I know a lot of writers manage to move back and forth between hard sci-fi and fantasy without any trouble, and Emma Newman is definitely one of them. My hat is off to authors who understand the nuances of the different genres and manage to create engaging characters and develop engaging worlds whatever the genre or likely market. In Brother’s Ruin, Newman has obviously slipped a first toe into the water of what promises to be a much longer and richer fantasy series. This book is, in many ways, a prologue for a longer work. The volume is less than 200 pages, reading almost like a novella, but it introduces the key players and positions them on the chessboard in anticipation of more adventures to come.

Charlotte (Charlie) is our young protagonist in an alternate Victorian society in which magic exists and the houses of magic are juxtaposed with the nobility in government. For some, being identified as latent in magic promises rewards of financial recompense for their families and positions of power in the magical academies. For others, like Charlie, the thought of exposing herself as a holder of magic would ruin her life. She would have to leave her family, wouldn’t be able to marry, and would effectively lose her freedom. In fact, the book explores the meaning of freedom in various contexts. How free can a young woman (of secretly independent means) hope to become in any walk of this society?

There is much second-guessing of right and wrong, good and evil, strength and weakness, all set against a richly detailed backdrop of a society that is very Victorian, but where the underpinnings of the society are threatened by the presence of magic. In some ways, this work reminded me a little of Victoria Schwab’s recently completed Shades of Light trilogy. For those who like fantasy, alternate history, and a straight up good story, I’d highly recommend Brother’s Ruin. While it’s not technically a YA book (at least I don’t think it’s intended to be), it would definitely be suitable for younger and older readers alike.