This is technically a collection of stories, but it probably wouldn’t have taken much in the way of editing to turn it into one continuous novel. Admittedly, it might have felt a bit episodic, so if it were me, I’d leave it as it is.
What I wanted to say with this is that the different stories in this collection (two shorts and two novellas) are connected, with the same main characters and some recurring themes and issues.
It all begins with Mia and her father moving into a cottage down the road from the dark, foreboding castle of a horrible, evil, ordinary-people-menacing warlock. Mia herself is skilled in metal-magic, and she’s none too concerned with what minions a paltry warlock might throw at her. She really just wants to be left alone with her workshop and her tools, keep her head down, and make sure nothing threatens her or her father again, ever.
Turns out that Fabian, the necromancer, also really just wants to be left alone, and he’s quite grateful when Mia comes to help him with bit of a torches-and-pitchforks issue that shows up at his front door one afternoon.
Also turns out Fabian is all kinds of handsome.
One thing leads to another, and soon enough a budding romance struggles to bring two reluctant introverts together in good ol’ idiots to lovers fashion. Unfortunately, the two idiots in question are too busy setting things right for everyone else to really have a clear view of their own need for help, and much of the two novellas in the collection revolve around that.
Overall, it’s a heartwarming tale of friendship, trust, found family, acceptance, and of breaking out of your shell. It’s also quite short, and if you need a refreshing break from heavier stuff, this might just be the thing.
What I’ll whine about
There’s so much more to this world and setting that we don’t get to see and that I would have liked to learn more about. Interesting characters I want to get to know. Places and locations and organizations. The story is so focused on Mia and Fabian that everything else around them feels a little bit thin.
What I’ll gush about
Warmth. There are some dark undertones to the story (past trauma, persecution, othering), but they neither take over the narrative, nor are they brushed away. It’s acknowledged, and it’s dealt with, but there’s room for hope, positivity, and understanding as well. Despite those serious bits, it’s still a feel good romantic comedy, with a lot of heart and warmth.
Metal-magic. Mia’s magical abilities are never really explained that well, but what we do see of the contraptions she create is rather spectacular – especially the dress in the second story.
Unpretentious, funny, and full of life. Romantic fantasy comedy.