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Cold Magic
by Kate Elliott

Release Date: 4th Aug 2011
Publisher: Little Brown
ISBN: 978 1 8414 9882 9
RRP: £7.99

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A deep romance is hidden beneath the Cold Mages, civil unrest and political manoeuvrings in this new fantasy series...

Cold Magic sets you down in a world that is both vaguely familiar and yet unsettlingly jumbled up; against a backdrop of tallow candle and a scribing on slates as the Romans did is the jarring existence of airships, gas-lamps and under-floor heating. But in spite of this curious amalgamation of multiple eras, civilisations, ‘cold’ and threaded magic; the narrative begins rather modestly.

Gently, slowly encircled in the frivolity of our protagonists’ antics; both Catherine and Beatrice are respectable enough girls – cousins, in fact – who attend the Academy of learning and live with Bee’s parents in a modest district of the city. We read how they tease and cajole each other into minor acts of disobedience and daring. There is room for a raised eyebrow at Cat’s ability to see threads of magic and weave them around her and copious amounts of time for eye-rolls at Bee’s preoccupation with the various handsome and wealthy young men preening themselves around her. It feels as though the narrative is a wayward dog that has escaped and so romps around, moseying along… and just when your attention starts to fade: it drops you off a cliff. And the story begins…

Cat is not who she thinks she is. Nor is she who the House of Four Moons thinks she is. As it turns out, her not knowing is advantageous to her beloved cousin, Bee – but not to her. When the Mansa of Four Moons discovers he has been duped and his most powerful Cold Mage bound in a quickie marriage to the wrong girl, Cat finds herself suddenly expendable and violently unwanted. Her new husband, Andevai, is charged with killing her in order to release him from their binding and so marry the right girl - Bee. Of course, Cat has no intention of rolling over and convenience others by dying, so she chooses another path, one that will propel her, Bee and Andevai onto a precarious course; because Bee is someone a lot of powerful people want.

Elliott has a curious desire to unpin the reader’s knowledge and rearrange the fabric of our understanding. A troll is neither a huge hairy beast devoid of any redeemable qualities, nor is it an overgrown manikin that talks in riddles – Elliott’s “trolls” are lizard-like bird men, with a sharp intellect that enables them to be inventive, industrious, and cunning and solicitors. A loquacious lullaby that becomes a sensory overload; Cold Magic combines enough theatre, quaint speech and complex cultural identities to make this one helluva tragi-rom-com. We can’t wait to see how Cat and Andevai’s relationship blossoms; thorns – or should that be claws? - and all.

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