Celia Lake


Mysterious Charm: Outcrossing (2018), Goblin Fruit (2019), Magician’s Hoard (2019), Wards of the Roses (2019), In the Cards (2019)

Mysterious Charm

Outcrossing (2018)

OutcrossingRufus returned from The Great War unscathed, to a village that doesn’t understand why he returned when their sons and brothers and fathers didn’t.

(T)hey found him even more suspicious and – just wrong, one of the wives had called him. “Nothing natural about a man coming out of the war, not a scratch on him.”

Ferry has no interest in the men her parents are selecting for her to marry, so she makes a different choice.

Ferry had not meant to be a governess, after all, but it was a suitable sort of occupation for a young woman from a good family who was refusing to get married.

The story is interesting, the writing however, is aggravating and repeatedly threw me out of the story.

“Not one one I’m much good at.”

Much of the story feels like it was dictated, rather than written, and then they didn’t go back to tighten up the prose so it would make sense to a reader.

“Mrs Wain, I do – I know it’s not at all proper, but the man I was speaking to. So I know how to avoid him, or people like him, what should I know?”

“See this? It’s got that line of rose pink, on the underside of the orchid, that’s just about right, lots of pictures don’t. And this, here. About the ponies. This is quite a good description of the breeding lines, much more detail than some. I don’t know the all of it, but it’s promising.”

In speech, our pauses and intonation help the listener fill in the gaps and pauses and stutters and false starts. Reading conversation may be accurate, but it’s not easy, and I don’t find it any fun.

Publisher: Celia Lake
Rating: 5/10

Goblin Fruit (2019)

Goblin FruitSet in England in 1924

Lizzie has taken a job for the ministry, hoping it will allow her and her sister to survive–especially since her work during the war hadn’t helped her to get any other jobs.

Carillon also does work for the ministry, and keeps a public facade of a rich and not to smart heir, to keep society from suspecting.

As with the previous book, I liked the mix up of history and fantasy and mystery.

Also as with the previous book, poor editing left me confused and sometimes thrown out of the story.

But my… associate wasn’t sure what it they meant it do.”

This one was on the first page:

He was one of half a dozen helper, sent from the auction house.

So it was aggravating to be thrown out of the story repeatedly, but it was better than the first book.

But this one had a couple other issues.

First, it brought up Lizzy’s family having a bad reputation, but never explained why. Also, her sister didn’t seem to have the same trouble finding a job that Lizzie did, which was confusing. We also had hints to problems with Carillon’s past, but neither of these things were explained.

I also frequently didn’t understand why some characters behaved as they did, which was also aggravating.

So, it was ok, but frustrating.

Rating: 6/10

Magician’s Hoard (2019)

Magicians HoardSet in England in 1926.

Pross has been a widow for six years, raising her daughter, running a small bookstore, and taking on the occasional research project.

“What did you want from the Society, then? You seem to have most of it covered.” He looked up at her as if he was expecting something.

She made a frustrated noise. “I know what it says, but I don’t know how to interpret it. I’m not an archaeologist, I’m not a materia specialist, I’m not a linguist. There could be a puzzle or a warning or a… I don’t know. Probably not a curse. I read too many novels.”

Ibis is a fellow at the Research Society, but it’s made clear he is not one of them.

“Same old, then?”


“Same old, too. Wearing more today than some. Other people getting preferment, told about opportunities, that sort of thing.”

As much as I enjoyed the story, this book has the same issues as the previous two books–a desperate need for editing.

Ferry shrugged. “He spent so long without money, even now things are steady. That’s not something wears off that easily.

He hoped the names protect in some way, if he used the soothing syllables.

He indicated two spots on the map, “Someone would have been found already: these fields were both ploughed over the centuries.”

It’s aggravating.

Aside from that I did like Ibis a lot, and Pross as well.

Rating: 6/10

Wards of the Roses (2019)

Wards of the RosesSet in Wales & England in 1920

I still want these books to be edited. But the story and world building keep pulling me in.

Kate Davies doesn’t want a return to war, but she would like the more interesting assignments she got while all the men were away. So she is hopeful when she is told she is in the running for a special assignment.

“This is the house. Based on the architecture we believe it dates from the 1200s.” Kate frowned.

“Henry II, or thereabouts?” She reached out a hand to touch it.

“Good eye.” He saw her slight hesitation, and murmured, “Do speak freely, Davies, ask what you need to.”

“Is that when it disappeared?”

“We have a few records referring to it in the later 1400s, but it is difficult to identify precisely when something stopped being mentioned.”

Giles Lefton was blinded in a magical gas attack during the war. He now teaches at Oxford but is often called to consult on magical mathematical issues by the Guard.

His first name, apparently, was Aegidius, which told her everything she needed to know about his family.

The two head out to Wales, to try and learn about the house (and to figure out how to get inside) along with Giles’s companion, Vale.

I really do like the world building here. I’ll note that, like Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock world, witches require mathematics to safely do magic, and higher magics require higher mathematics.

I like both Kate and Giles, and found the magical mystery interesting. I also liked how much work (especially mathematics) the two put into their work.

However, there were issues as with the previous books, and there were things were not clear, which was aggravating.

Rating: 7/10

In the Cards (2019)

In the CardsSet in England and Sicily in 1925

Yes, I still (badly) wants these books edited, but I am still reading.

Explaining how they really were, that was more complicated. They’d made agreements, he and Galen, about when they’d share certain things, and when they wouldn’t.

This is just confusing, and doesn’t actually seem to be anything related to the story–I kept expecting a complicated relationship between Galen and Martin.

Galen and Martin have been best friends since school, although Galen’s parents severely disapprove of Martin.

“Journalist. All staff pieces so far, nothing with my name on it, but I aspire to people running away from my questions in time.”

When the Amberlys through a weekend party, Laura is invited.

“Oh, it’s Mother who’s the complication. And Father. They’re looking to marry me off, and Martin insists you be warned before you’re thrown into the fray.”

When a guest is murdered, the three join together to try and discover who on the island is the murderer.

Rating: 7/10