C. M. Waggoner’s debut novel was Unnatural Magic (which we covered here almost exactly a year ago). Her latest, published last month by Ace, is set in the same world. I admit I’m very intrigued by the description for The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry, the tale of a down-and-out fire witch and a young gentlewoman who team up to stop a deadly conspiracy.
Dellaria Wells, petty con artist, occasional thief, and partly educated fire witch, is behind on her rent in the city of Leiscourt — again. Then she sees the “wanted” sign, seeking Female Persons, of Martial or Magical ability, to guard a Lady of some Importance, prior to the celebration of her Marriage. Delly fast-talks her way into the job and joins a team of highly peculiar women tasked with protecting their wealthy charge from unknown assassins.
Delly quickly sets her sights on one of her companions, the confident and well-bred Winn Cynallum. The job looks like nothing but romance and easy money until things take a deadly (and undead) turn. With the help of a bird-loving necromancer, a shapeshifting schoolgirl, and an ill-tempered reanimated mouse named Buttons, Delly and Winn are determined to get the best of an adversary who wields a twisted magic and has friends in the highest of places.
Come on, I know that description is like nothing else you’ve ever read. (Romance, undead, and a reanimated mouse named Buttons! That’s a winning combo right there.) Martin Cahill at Tor.com is very taken with this book:
Waggoner’s characters absolutely shine… Agatha Christie in design and Pratchett-esque in execution… The plot… is [a] daring sequence of events that kept me enthralled and rooted to my seat for hours on end. A protection job turns into a murder mystery, turns into a revenge quest, turns into a courtship, turns into something like Breaking Bad by way of “let’s burn it down from the inside,” and ends up somewhere around the end of a Shakespearean comedy and tragedy combined.
The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry was published by Ace Books on January 12, 2021. It is 384 pages, priced at $17 in trade paperback and $11.99 in digital formats. The cover art and design is by Jess Cruickshank. Read the complete first chapter at Tor.com.
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