This was one of those books that I knew from the beginning that it was just my thing. Intrepid heroine set for adventure, magic, war on the high seas, dashing Navy Captain, pirates, shipboard adventure, danger, and maybe love when she least expects it? This was history and fantasy blended together at its best.
A young woman courageously steps out of the restraints of her current life and boldly embraces the adventure of a lifetime so she can live free. I read it in two sittings and then groaned to see it end. Fortunately, it’s the beginning of a series and I can come back to the world of the magical Extraordinaires again.
Elinor is a late bloomer where her magic is concerned so she goes from being a disappointment to her parents to one of the most sought after young ladies of London’s High Society. But mixed with the hushed interest in her is a twinge of fear because she is a rare fire magic Extraordinaire and everyone knows those who hold that sort of magic usually end up losing their minds and destroying themselves and everything around them.
But some are willing to take the risk to possess of wife who has extraordinaire magic. She’s a prize to be one and her father treats her as such brokering an arranged marriage with a man she does not want. He threatens to lock her up and make her miserable if she doesn’t comply.
Elinor makes her own way out by approaching the Royal Navy who are fighting a war against Napoleon and against pirates. They can use her sort of talent and cautiously decide to do the unprecedented action of putting a woman on a war ship. The captain she is assigned to and his crew are dubious. And she has much to prove while fighting her own fears at stepping so far away from everything she knows and knowing this will irrevocably destroy her reputation in society.
Elinor settles into her new life and discovers that she relishes the challenge to prove her use and finds satisfaction when her magic wins the first battle and the respect of the crew and the captain. But their enemies have magic workers, too, and there are others from within who are determined to thwart her and the captain she now serves under. She must not just be good at wielding magic, but also be courageous and brilliant.
I love history blended with fantasy particularly when it is feathered into a powerful plot and characters. This alternate history world of the Napoleonic Era Britain is filled with magic wielders. Having magic gives one status and there are a variety of magic classifications some more desired than others when it comes to status amongst the high society of Britain. You guessed it, Elinor’s Scorcher (fire) magic is considered unseemingly for a woman to wield and it also makes people nervous because Scorchers are generally unstable or mad.
The main character, Elinor, is the sole narrator. She is a fantastic heroine beginning as a sheltered and naive lady to becoming a formidable woman ready to learn from her mistakes and take her place as a valuable contributor to crew and country. She must battle the conflicts that come from stepping out of her place in life, enemies personal and of Britain, and she must fight an internal battle.
The author did a fantastic job of painting a setting around Elinor that was a balance of historical authenticity and her own parallel world. This story paces out slow and steady for the most part of life in London society and then shipboard life, but there are many exciting breathless moments when Elinor, Captain Ramsay, and the crew are fighting for their lives.
Elinor learns to build relationships on her own particularly with Captain Ramsay. He, more than others understands what it is to be a late-blooming Extraordinaire and the need to prove himself. He is her friend, but he is also her captain. But slowly something more grows between them. It was sweet and tender and was organic to the story.
In summary, this was amazingness and I definitely want more of the Extraordinaire world. Those who enjoy authentic feeling historicals, compelling characters, exciting adventure and magic surrounding it all should give this book a go.
My thanks to Curiosity Quills for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.