Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

Four Walls and a Heart

Monday, October 9, 2023

Four Walls and a Heart (2023) Celia Lake (Charms of Albion)

Four Walls and a HeartSet in the hidden magical part of England in 1884

Magni has served in the Guard for several years, and is told he is about to have changes in his job–including a promotion.

Gil left the Guard to join the army, against the wishes of his parents and went to Sudan to fight in the Mahdist War. Now he is back after being seriously wounded and still struggling to recover.

I liked Gil, and appreciated his struggles with his recovery. I like Magni and how he kept visiting Gil, despite the Gil’s grumpiness and personal walls.

Aside from that?

First, I figured out what has bothered me about all her books–they feel like they were dictated rather than written, and never edited for clarity of reading.

That got them into an agreeable discussion about the theory of the thing. Gil carried most of it, and Magni leaned back to watch. Oh, he contributed a comment here or there, some bit of his training. There had been that case last year – quite public now – where noises, the way they echoed, had played into it. It got extensive coverage in the Trellech Moon. The crux of it had been all about what the witnesses heard, versus what they thought they’d heard, and the tricks that sound played. In that case, the issue had been a matter of reflections around some of the sound charms on various of the clubs on Club Row, many of whom had particular protections and considerations.

Second, there were huge gaps in the story.

“Well. It’s not as if you have options, do you.” Gil took a breath, carefully, but his father went on, his voice clipped and prim. “I’ll make arrangements for a room for you. The ground floor, what used to be the maid’s room. You’ll behave yourself. No outside interests.” Of any kind, apparently. Gil knew perfectly well that whatever his parents offered wouldn’t allow for friends, even platonic ones, but that suggested even books were not permitted. “We shan’t be able to take you places, of course. We’ve all got our own obligations. And you’ll keep the oath you made about Michael.”

He could scarcely break that one, not without his magic rising up and doing him in. Gil swallowed hard against something in his throat. “Thank you, sir, but no.” He got the words out smoothly enough, before everything clenched up on him. Pain from his leg, for one, but his hands were tight in the sheet, he could feel his back arch. Blast, it was going to show on his face. It must already have done so.

That’s all we get about that. How does “that suggested even books were not permitted” even come from any of that? Why isn’t he allowed to speak to his brother? And why did Gil leave the guard to join the army? None of this makes much sense.

Third, there is Grant. Gil and Magni feel they have to hide their relationship from almost everyone, but we are never told why Grant is accepting of this. And Grant is willing to act as their help? Why? And why were Grant and Gil sent back to Albion from the Sudan? These things happen, and there is no understanding of why?

So it was a frustrating story, and rather than make me want to learn more, I want instead of avoid being even more confused.

Rating: 5/10


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