‘Nadi, you will wear a fine gown. You will dance. You will eat cake. You will see starlight. You will have a kiss by midnight, and then our bargain is done.”
‘The Midnight Bargain’ by C. L. Polk is a delightful historical fantasy set in a world reminiscent of Regency Britain complete with lovely gowns, strict social etiquette, and the rest - yet also with hereditary magic and grimoires.
Its lead is Beatrice Clayborn, a young woman who is forced to practice magic in secret. While magic is accepted in this world, women with magical talent are restricted to learning simple charms, their only worth is to become compliant wives and bear magically gifted sons.
Beatrice is about to take part in the Bargaining Season, where magically gifted ingenues are paraded before prospective husbands at soirées and balls. Beatrice is aware that on her wedding day she will be locked into a warding collar that will cut off her power. Yet Beatrice does not want to marry and dreams of becoming a full-fledged mage. However, her family are in severe debt, and only her making a good marriage can save them.
When Beatrice discovers a grimoire containing the key to becoming a mage, Ysbeta, a rival sorceress, is also determined to have it and out of deference to Ysbeta’s higher social station, Beatrice yields. However, she almost immediately regrets it and decides to summons a lesser spirit to help her retrieve the book. Her new ally demands a price: Beatrice's first kiss . . . with the sorceress's brother: the handsome and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.
I have always loved Regency romances and add to the mix magic and social issues linked to women’s rights and I was completely hooked from start to finish. I especially adored Nadi, the lesser spirit that Beatrice summons. She brought a delightful element of comedy into the story.
Overall, I thought Polk’s writing was excellent and that she created a world that I found myself deeply immersed in.
I plan on reading more novels by C. L. Polk and hope that she will return to further explore this rich world.
The Midnight Bargain Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
©2020 C.L. Polk (P)2020 Recorded Books
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|Listening Length||11 hours and 49 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com.au Release Date||13 October 2020|
|Best Sellers Rank||
49,323 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals)
424 in Historical Fantasy (Audible Books & Originals)
1,934 in Historical Fantasy (Books)
4,361 in Sword & Sorcery Fantasy (Books)
4.3 out of 5
459 global ratings
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A delightful historical fantasy romanceReviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 April 2021
One person found this helpful
Alison S. Coad
Regency + MagicReviewed in Canada on 22 February 2021
When I was 12 or 13, I discovered my mother’s trove of Georgette Heyer Regency novels and I dove right in, unaware of the sexual politics underlying the stories. Decades later we have C. L. Polk’s “The Midnight Bargain,” a sort-of Regency YA fantasy that is all about sexual politics. Beatrice is the 18-year-old daughter of a banking family, not rich but respectable, who must participate in Bargaining Season, where the scions of the mid- and upper classes choose their mates; but in this world, some men and women have magic. Because this magic involves summoning and controlling beings from the spirit realm, who are powerful but very greedy for physical experiences, women with magic are at risk of having a spirit enter the fetus of any child they carry, resulting in mass destruction. So women are “warded” during their child-bearing years, which cuts them off completely from magic and which makes it impossible for them to reach their full magical potential. Beatrice has the makings of being a very powerful mage indeed, but she needs to marry well to save her family’s fortunes; those competing desires are only complicated when she meets the Lavan siblings, very beautiful, very rich and very magical…. I like the world-building here, but I found our main character quite off-putting: she is so polemical in her constant arguments about the unfairness of “the system” that I just got annoyed with her. Of course the system is unfair, of course women are devalued and, essentially, enslaved - we get it, already! Then again, as a book meant for teenage readers (I assume), perhaps that much ranting and raving is to be expected. I’ll definitely read more of this author as I find stories, because “The Midnight Bargain” is well written; I’ll just hope future stories are a bit more in the “show, not tell” vein.
The midnight bargainReviewed in Canada on 30 March 2021
What a good book! Beatrice is a feisty main character who one can empathize with, Ianthe her faithful sidekick. I would recommend to everyone.
This book gave me all the emotions!!Reviewed in the United States on 25 October 2020
So devastatingly good. One of the characters made me hiccup with laughter (Nadi), while Ianthe made me swoon. Beatrice and Ysbeta’s ordeals made me cry with anger and heartbreak. Everything was so well done, I had to read it all in one sitting. I really appreciate the world building and the deviation from the norm (regency=all white people). The themes of freedom and equity are timely (but when have they ever not been?). The magic was magical, the romance was lovely, the villains were realistically human. I had no idea what I was in for with this book because I’d never read C. L. Polk before, but apparently I’ve been missing out big time. Sorry if this review’s all over the place but I just finished the book and I’m having ALL THE EMOTIONS!!!
14 people found this helpful