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The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Ben's life and their own livelihoods. But Benjamin Gunn isn't a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect. When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city. Brother's Ruin is the first in a new gaslamp fantasy series by Emma Newman. At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.


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The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the The year is 1850 and Great Britain is flourishing, thanks to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. When a new mage is discovered, Royal Society elites descend like buzzards to snatch up a new apprentice. Talented mages are bought from their families at a tremendous price, while weak mages are snapped up for a pittance. For a lower middle class family like the Gunns, the loss of a son can be disastrous, so when seemingly magical incidents begin cropping up at home, they fear for their Ben's life and their own livelihoods. But Benjamin Gunn isn't a talented mage. His sister Charlotte is, and to prevent her brother from being imprisoned for false reporting she combines her powers with his to make him seem a better prospect. When she discovers a nefarious plot by the sinister Doctor Ledbetter, Charlotte must use all her cunning and guile to protect her family, her secret and her city. Brother's Ruin is the first in a new gaslamp fantasy series by Emma Newman. At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

30 review for Brother’s Ruin

  1. 5 out of 5

    James Tivendale

    I received an ARC of Brother's Ruin through NetGalley. Thank you to Emma Newman and Tor. Brother's Ruin is the first novel in Newman's Industrial Magic series. This is an urban fantasy story set in an alternative London circa 1850 where people who have magic within themselves become members of the Royal Society of Esoteric Arts. Civilians who have magic capabilities that are currently latent/inactive have to be handed over to the Empire before they become "wild" and they can attend one of three I received an ARC of Brother's Ruin through NetGalley. Thank you to Emma Newman and Tor. Brother's Ruin is the first novel in Newman's Industrial Magic series. This is an urban fantasy story set in an alternative London circa 1850 where people who have magic within themselves become members of the Royal Society of Esoteric Arts. Civilians who have magic capabilities that are currently latent/inactive have to be handed over to the Empire before they become "wild" and they can attend one of three colleges, learning the science like details about their powers. They then use these abilities to aid the smooth running of the nation. This brings us to our two main characters. An intelligent young lady called Charlotte who is an artist and her brother Ben who has been suffering from poor health recently. Both can "manipulate" magic but one greatly more so than the other. My favourite character has to be the good looking, charming and mysterious teacher from the College of Fine Kinetics, Magus Hopkins. Brother's Ruin is not a book about the life, trials, and tribulations in a magic establishment but is regarding the process up unto that point. The tale is also about a certain problem that Charlotte and Ben's family find themselves in. Knowing what the diabolical outcome could be, they spend the story trying to fix things. These two parts of the plot do cross over. It isn't the most complex story in the world which was fine for me and I completed this in one day so I must have enjoyed it a fair bit. Although this is quite a short story, with the limited amount of characters, I found that they were still developed and interesting. When the tale came to a close I definitely wanted to find out more about them and the next book's adventures should be great. In a similar way, there are only two or three settings where the action takes place but for this story focused tale, that was not an underwhelming element at all. If Brother's Ruin is anything to go by, then the Industrial Magic series should be fascinating. I get the vibe that this book is almost an introduction to this world because when it finishes, things are set up enticingly well for the next story. I was planning to give this narrative 3.5 stars until the conclusion which included an excellent reveal so it earned the extra half star! To conclude, a highly enjoyable quick read that is well written, with quality characters and an intriguing ending. The only negative aspect really is that I received this as an ARC and I have to wait longer for book two.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

    ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I truly believe this is the start of something that is going to be amazing; unfortunately this first installment into this world wasn't quite as gripping as I'd hoped. This novella takes place in 1850 Great Britain, and has a very important emphasis on the lack of women's rights that takes place during that time. Our main protagonist, Charlotte, is a very talented illustrator, but she has to sell her work under a man's ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I truly believe this is the start of something that is going to be amazing; unfortunately this first installment into this world wasn't quite as gripping as I'd hoped. This novella takes place in 1850 Great Britain, and has a very important emphasis on the lack of women's rights that takes place during that time. Our main protagonist, Charlotte, is a very talented illustrator, but she has to sell her work under a man's pen name. Of course the small amount of money she is making is only to help her brother, who she loves very much, and is only until she is married off to her stable and reliable fiancé. Charlotte's brother, Ben, has tried to go away to school to pursue his love for engineering multiple times, but always is forced to come home because he gets very ill when he is away. Charlotte always does everything in her power to take care of him while he is home, but the financial stress from paying for his schooling has impacted their family very much. Charlotte's father has taken out a very risky loan, which he is unable to pay back. Once Charlotte learns of his position, and the position he has put their family in, she is determined to try and fix things herself. Unfortunately, her father has already taken matters into his own hands and has very selfishly tried to fix things, because he believes that Ben has magical powers, even though it is truly Charlotte that is harboring the secret of her magical powers from the world. In this world families are able to sell off their children to the Royal Society if the children possess magical abilities. The stronger their magical abilities the higher the price is for them. The Royal Society claims to take good care of them, and even allows them to come back visit their loved ones after they have been trained to harness their powers, but many people choose to hide themselves and their children from the Royal Society. Also, enforcers will come and take children and adults that have magical abilities, without having to be informed. They claim that if a person goes too long without training their powers they will "go wild" and hurt others and themselves. They are taken to be immediately tested, with or without their consent. Yet, when a parent informs the Royal Society about the chance of their child having magical abilities, their magi will come to your house and perform three tests to see how powerful the child is and how useful they will be for their personal college. ➽ Magus Lillian Ainsworth - College of Thermaturgy ➽ Magus William Ledbetter - College of Dynamics ➽ Magus Thomas Hopkins - College of Fire Kinetics Once Charlotte's father informs the Royal Society of Ben's powers, Charlotte finds it necessary to help her brother with the three tests he is given to prove his magical worth, because Charlotte is scared of what will happen to her brother and the rest of her family if her brother fails them all. And, obviously, the better he does on the tests, the better the offers will be to fix their parent's financial situation. Oh, and all of this is going on while a somewhat murder mystery is going on, too! Charlotte is tangled up with one of these magis, in something that is much bigger than both of them realize. This subplot really is the reason I have such high expectations for the Industrial Magic series, and I look forward to what the next one will bring. Also, I touched on this above, but there is a good discussion to be had from this book and what it means to be a "good woman" and what the "woman's place" was like in the 1850's. I really appreciated it, and it shows how far we've come, but how much we still need to go. TL;DR - there are feminist undertones throughout this book and it's really amazing. I really enjoyed this novella, and found it to be very fast-paced, especially with that ending. I'm only giving this three stars, because it felt like a starter story, where the author is telling you all the information you need to know before entering the actual heart of the story, but I have really high hopes that I would end up giving the next book in this series a much higher rating. I'm actually very interested with continuing on, and I have nothing but high hopes. Blog | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Youtube | Twitch

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed Ejaz

    It's really hard for me to rate this book. It irritated me by its beginning and made me excited by its ending. OVERVIEW This book sets in 1850. Royal Society buys magical person for its own use. Charlotte and her brother, Benjamin, have magical abilities. Benjamin is sold by his father to Royal Society. His father has a debt to pay. So he needs money, which he takes from Royal Society by selling his son to them. But the problem is Ben is not an experienced magus. But his sister, Charlotte, is It's really hard for me to rate this book. It irritated me by its beginning and made me excited by its ending. OVERVIEW This book sets in 1850. Royal Society buys magical person for its own use. Charlotte and her brother, Benjamin, have magical abilities. Benjamin is sold by his father to Royal Society. His father has a debt to pay. So he needs money, which he takes from Royal Society by selling his son to them. But the problem is Ben is not an experienced magus. But his sister, Charlotte, is. So she helps him to pass the tests of Royal Society to get a good deal of money. I think help is not an appropriate word. She cheats the Royal Society. This is supposed to be the main plot of this book. But not! There is another plot. Charlotte goes to the debt collectors' place to demand more time. But she finds that in their place criminal deeds are happening . She gets shocked to know that some of the members of Royal Society are involved in the crime. THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE Except for the last chapter, I didn't like pretty much of this book. Everything was fine. Author was also trying to create as much excitement as she could but all in vain. Sorry to say but those excitements were pretty dull for me. I didn't enjoy even though I was supposed to do. I couldn't connect with Charlotte. I couldn't connect with Benjamin. Or I couldn't enjoy the plot as well with the exception of last chapter. THINGS I LIKED Last chapter saved the rating of this book. From all of the characters, I only liked Magus Hopkins. I enjoyed reading him. He was a complete mystery till the last chapter. I got suspicious of him from the very first line of his entry. And I was right. He was a suspicious man. And I liked it. The only reason of mine to continue this series is him. I liked his intentions which were revealed in the ending. There was a hint of love interest between Charlotte and Hopkins. But I didn't feel Hopkins was interested at all. Even though Charlotte was interested little bit. She didn't admit it because she was engaged and would be married in the next one (If author would not alter anything in the next one which I think she would.) In the whole book her fiancé appeared just in the beginning and in the ending. Whole time Hopkins was there with her. I really don't know what to expect from love interest. I would just say to the author that do whatever you want with it. But it must be good. Overall, this book is fine. I am confident that next book will be way better than this one. Please don't me down, author!!! Please!! Please!! Please!! April 14, 2017

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    A few years ago I would have been startled to think that there was such a thing as Historical Urban Fantasy, but yeah, it's a thing now. And now that we've got cotton gins and the Royal Society deeply involved in the magic business, with all sorts of fear and corruption and intrigue, I shouldn't really be surprised. So the question is: is this good? I think it's quite fun, personally. It's a simple setup and Charlotte is a pretty cool character with a magical secret. And she deeply mistrusts the A few years ago I would have been startled to think that there was such a thing as Historical Urban Fantasy, but yeah, it's a thing now. And now that we've got cotton gins and the Royal Society deeply involved in the magic business, with all sorts of fear and corruption and intrigue, I shouldn't really be surprised. So the question is: is this good? I think it's quite fun, personally. It's a simple setup and Charlotte is a pretty cool character with a magical secret. And she deeply mistrusts the Society... for good reason, as it turns out. It's a simple story, a comedy of error and circumstance that becomes a cross between a heist and a romance. Wait... simple? Well, yeah, it's a short setup for a longer series, obviously. It's gonna require investment. Fortunately, it was fun and I don't have any problems with that. :) Historical UF is fun!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Gail Carriger

    One of the things I like most about Brother's Ruin is the way Em layers in her tension points. As we open the book we see two characters standing still in a sea of humanity. Then we learn the first tension point: our heroine,Charlotte, is an artist trying to make it in a man's world. Then we get the second: the magi stealing children. Then we learn her beloved brother is ill. And then after we return to the comparative safety of home, the punch of a father's mounting debt. Now we know Charlotte i One of the things I like most about Brother's Ruin is the way Em layers in her tension points. As we open the book we see two characters standing still in a sea of humanity. Then we learn the first tension point: our heroine,Charlotte, is an artist trying to make it in a man's world. Then we get the second: the magi stealing children. Then we learn her beloved brother is ill. And then after we return to the comparative safety of home, the punch of a father's mounting debt. Now we know Charlotte is weighed down by many burdens: disenfranchisement, secrecy, fear, grief, and financial hardship. These are all identifiable things to most readers, we have all suffered fear and sickness, financial insecurity and societal dismissal as a result of age, sex, gender, personal preferences, or race. (Well, most SF/F readers have.) This makes Charlotte very sympathetic as a character and us, as readers, very invested in seeing her climb her way out of this depressive cess-pit in which she finds herself. All that in the first 20% of the novella! As the final straw we see Charlotte's attempt at her own salvation, an inappropriate but fiscally logical marriage. The modern eye sees this as a flawed choice from the get go, because we (as readers) are trained to prefer our heroine to solve her own problems through strength of ability, not marriage. So we hope this match fails. At this juncture when the magi appear, Charlotte is then driven into her adventure (heeds the call, if you would). I'm not going to review further because to do so would give things away, and this is, not really much of a review. Ah well, more me admiring a most excellent set up and highly skilled author. It happens, sometimes I'm more author than reader. I do hope that you, as readers, also enjoyed this book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    Charlotte knows that she has a talent for magic. She knows that her duty - and legal obligation - is to make her magic known, so that the government can train her talents to be best used for the good of the country. But it's unsettling that street preachers rant on with dire warnings about the evils of the magical Academy, and besides, Charlotte has other plans for her life: she's a talented commercial artist, even if as a woman, she has to take her commissions anonymously, and she has plans to Charlotte knows that she has a talent for magic. She knows that her duty - and legal obligation - is to make her magic known, so that the government can train her talents to be best used for the good of the country. But it's unsettling that street preachers rant on with dire warnings about the evils of the magical Academy, and besides, Charlotte has other plans for her life: she's a talented commercial artist, even if as a woman, she has to take her commissions anonymously, and she has plans to marry her fiance. Magicians are required to live a celibate life: not the most enticing inducement. However, Charlotte's beloved father has got himself into debt, and when the suspicion arises that the debt collectors that are after him are committing serial murder, Charlotte may have to put her family's interests before her own. However, not all is as simple as it seems: some kind of nefarious plot is going on involving magic, and its threads are there to entangle Charlotte no matter which way she turns. I very much enjoyed reading this book, and would recommend it to any fan of Victorian/supernatural fantasy. However, I'd have to include the caveat: wait until the sequel is ready. This short book really functions more as an introduction to the characters and the scenario than as a complete story. It doesn't just end on a cliffhanger - it barely gets into the meat of the conflict! As it's less than 200 pages; I really feel that the 'sequel' should've been bundled together with this. Many thanks to Tor and NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are independent and unaffected by the source of the book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    I'm on a bit of a roll lately with liking the latest offerings from authors I've read before. It's 1850 and England's industrial revolution owes everything to the Royal Society of Esoteric Studies. The mages are powerful and wealthy, but they have little freedom and are forbidden to marry or pursue anything other than magic. So Charlotte Gunn is absolutely determined that no-one will find out that she's both a mage and a powerful one. But when her father runs into financial trouble and her brothe I'm on a bit of a roll lately with liking the latest offerings from authors I've read before. It's 1850 and England's industrial revolution owes everything to the Royal Society of Esoteric Studies. The mages are powerful and wealthy, but they have little freedom and are forbidden to marry or pursue anything other than magic. So Charlotte Gunn is absolutely determined that no-one will find out that she's both a mage and a powerful one. But when her father runs into financial trouble and her brother faces testing as a mage, she comes into far more proximity to mages than she would like. This was fun and a lot lighter than the other stuff of Newman's that I've read. Charlie is a great heroine and I really look forward to seeing what she gets up to next.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Marjolein

    Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com Brother's Ruin was a wonderful short book and a great start to the Industrial Magic series, which kept myself asking only one thing: Where/When can I get the next one? and Is it going to be a full length book? (Okay, these are in fact multiple things but certainly show my enthusiasm). It had everything in it to make it a very nice read for me. Set in a Victorian England with a Royal Society which enlists everyone with magical abilities, Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com Brother's Ruin was a wonderful short book and a great start to the Industrial Magic series, which kept myself asking only one thing: Where/When can I get the next one? and Is it going to be a full length book? (Okay, these are in fact multiple things but certainly show my enthusiasm). It had everything in it to make it a very nice read for me. Set in a Victorian England with a Royal Society which enlists everyone with magical abilities, I knew from the start I was going to like it. The Gunns have fallen on some hard times, as a good price is paid for a talented mage, their worries seem to be over when their son Ben seems to develop magical abilities. He's eager to try out, but what he doesn't know is that he's not the mage, his sister is, and she's been hiding it for years. I was surprised at how much story fitted in the limited amount of pages this book has. Still, I would have loved to see it as a full length novel. The scene was set nicely, and you can see Charlotte struggling between the desire to keep herself safe (and her life predictable) and helping her family. I'm extremely looking forward to the next novel. I would certainly recommend it. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    In this gaslamp fantasy, Charlotte is a powerful mage who has hidden her abilities for years to avoid being taken by the Royal Society of Esoteric Arts. Her brother, Benjamin, who has much weaker magical abilities, turns himself in to the Royal Society in the hope that the monetary compensation that his family would receive could save them from destitution. But without the help of Charlotte, he's in danger of being worth very little money or worse, punished for lying to the Royal Society. This is In this gaslamp fantasy, Charlotte is a powerful mage who has hidden her abilities for years to avoid being taken by the Royal Society of Esoteric Arts. Her brother, Benjamin, who has much weaker magical abilities, turns himself in to the Royal Society in the hope that the monetary compensation that his family would receive could save them from destitution. But without the help of Charlotte, he's in danger of being worth very little money or worse, punished for lying to the Royal Society. This is an incredibly quick read, but you will get to know Charlotte, her struggles and her world well enough to look forward to the next book in the series. It's refreshing to see a magical society that is not only out in the open, but strongly controlled by a (probably corrupt) government. Charlotte is plucky and adventurous, but incredibly caring to her family, which makes her a fun and compelling character to follow. The book is about unraveling the mysteries of The Royal Society and its members as much as it is about Charlotte and her brother, so there is a good amount of complexity here that keeps the story moving. My only issue has to do with Charlotte's obvious interest in Magus Hopkins. This may be my own disinterest in reading romance stories (I know, I know, but it's just not my thing right now), but it seemed over-the-top to me. Hopkins is charming and exciting, though, so I mean, who could blame her? I am hoping there is more to develop their friendship (or whatever it becomes) in the future, because I can tell it's going to be a good one, despite my gripe. I love Emma Newman's work, and this series promises to be just as unique and intriguing as the rest. I can't wait for more!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Veronique

    4.5 For a novella, the author does pack quite a lot in this story. This magic-based 1850 setting is fascinating, mixing just enough historical details with fantasy. Charlotte is a very likeable heroine, spirited, kind, loyal, courageous and adventurous. I loved that her family, parents and brother, are all decent people who really care for each other. After just the first few sentences, I was hooked in her narration, totally engrossed. Brother Ruin gives us enough to satisfy the reader in this sh 4.5 For a novella, the author does pack quite a lot in this story. This magic-based 1850 setting is fascinating, mixing just enough historical details with fantasy. Charlotte is a very likeable heroine, spirited, kind, loyal, courageous and adventurous. I loved that her family, parents and brother, are all decent people who really care for each other. After just the first few sentences, I was hooked in her narration, totally engrossed. Brother Ruin gives us enough to satisfy the reader in this short form while also whetting our appetite for much more. Emma Newman is proving to be one of my favourite authors! Can't wait to get my hands on everything she has written.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Evelina | AvalinahsBooks

    Brother's Ruin is a book I've been waiting to read like no tomorrow! I was sadly denied an advance copy, so I had to ultimately wait for the release (like all mere mortals... kidding!), but when I finally got my hands on it, it disappeared in a night and left me wanting for so much more! You can also read this review on my blog, along with many others. Reasons to read Brother's Ruin: ✬ Rogue mages would be a good reason. ✬ All technology in this world is run by magic! ✬ Rogue mages. ✬ A re Brother's Ruin is a book I've been waiting to read like no tomorrow! I was sadly denied an advance copy, so I had to ultimately wait for the release (like all mere mortals... kidding!), but when I finally got my hands on it, it disappeared in a night and left me wanting for so much more! You can also read this review on my blog, along with many others. Reasons to read Brother's Ruin: ✬ Rogue mages would be a good reason. ✬ All technology in this world is run by magic! ✬ Rogue mages. ✬ A really cool, inquisitive, strong-willed but nice female main character. ✬ And she has ass-kicking magic skills. ✬ ...did I happen to mention rogue mages at any point...? I could go on and on and on, so let me just give you a blurb: It's 19th century Britain, but slightly different from our own, because every kind of mechanical instrument is run with the help of magic - especially the clocks. More than that, you can't just be a mage and run off with it. Mages are persecuted, taught, taken into government service and prohibited from marrying or doing anything else. As the society is pretty restrictive about what women can do with their lives, Charlotte's sickly brother gets all the schooling while she secretly makes her own living, illustrating books. Until one fateful day when the Royal Society is notified that there might be a latent mage in their family... We find the main character Charlotte in the mess of all this - fighting for the safety of her family, hiding her own nature and protecting her brother, trying to keep her old life, but tempted by the new (especially by that handsome cheeky devil, one of the mage teachers...). And it's all in the middle of a magical mystery. First of all, Charlotte is just such a lovely character. Not just because she's powerful, magical and caring for her family - but also because she's young and passionate, and in her passion, she fails to see when she lies to herself, can't control her emotions, tries to hide them. But she doesn't get to hide them from us! We get to see every little bit of how she is an unreliable narrator. The story itself is quite thrilling and fast-paced. I am a gullible reader, so you will probably have it figured out by the middle, but I didn't - I kept guessing at the path Charlotte will end up choosing, as it was all quite complicated for her. On one hand, she could become a legal mage, live a life of convenience and relative luxury, solve any financial problems her family might have and not be afraid of the Royal Society tracking her down. On the other, there's some real serious shit going on in the Royal Society, and it just does not feel right. She would also not be able to marry her fiancee either, or keep pursuing a career in illustration. Who would want to get into all of that seriously suspicious stuff anyway? You might like this if: ✬ You've always wanted to read a cross between Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I would say..?) ✬ You adore the idea of steampunk London ✬ You like a strong, if clueless, female mage ✬ Dang, PETTICOATS AND MAGIC, people ✬ You want to get into another fast-paced magic series ✬ You've loved at least a few Victorian books, but wanted something current and a little more lively Emma Newman's Industrial Magic series is really going to be a kicker, I feel, and I know I'll be impatiently waiting for the next release, which is planned, alas, some unclear time in 2017 (okay, so I'm a little lazy to look around). I truly can't recommend this one enough, this is entertainment at its best. All of my friends who liked Ben Aaronovitch's PC Grant (Rivers of London) series will just have to stand my constant pestering about this series, I'm afraid!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    Entertaining steampunk novella. More, please.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Longer review later, but 3.5 stars for now. I am on the fence about whether I would read the next novella. This is clearly just the setup for a deeper immersion in the world, but what is on paper right now is clunky in both the worldbuilding and (frequently) in the writing itself.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Carly

    I can never quite articulate why I find all of Emma Newman's books so utterly enthralling, but I'm pleased to say that Brother's Ruin is no exception. Compared to some of her other more serious works such as Planetfall, I found this little novella a pure escapist pleasure. The story takes place in an alternate Victorian London where magic battles it out with the Industrial Revolution. Those born with the gift of magic must renounce their lives and instead dedicate their lives to the nation. Fami I can never quite articulate why I find all of Emma Newman's books so utterly enthralling, but I'm pleased to say that Brother's Ruin is no exception. Compared to some of her other more serious works such as Planetfall, I found this little novella a pure escapist pleasure. The story takes place in an alternate Victorian London where magic battles it out with the Industrial Revolution. Those born with the gift of magic must renounce their lives and instead dedicate their lives to the nation. Families are punished for hiding their magically gifted children, and paid for having their children taken by the mages. Charlotte has been hiding her magical gifts from her family and fiancee, but that's not her only secret: she is also a talented and successful illustrator. Hiding who she is, protecting her ailing brother, and surreptitiously aiding her family's finances, she thinks she is keeping it all together until the mages arrive at her doorstep. It's an interesting world: although the books themselves are radically different, the general idea of magic practitioners as powerful pawns required to serve the desires of their government reminded me a bit of Myke Cole's Shadow Ops series. Given that in this case, mages rival the nobility in power and they don't appear to be enslaved, I'm not really sure I accept that they would give up all sense of private life out of pure duty for their country, but I'll be interested to see where the story goes. The alternate London is well-researched and has sly references to real historical events; for example, Charlotte's fiancee mentions that he has been mapping out cholera outbreaks to help out his peculiar friend John Snow. The book explores Newman's familiar themes of agency and feminism, and there's also what I'm pretty sure will end up as a budding romance. I read the whole novella in one sitting and I can't wait for more. My major complaints: (1) that it's a novella instead of a full novel, and (2) I don't yet have a sequel in my greedy hands. If you're a fan of Victorian magic or steampunkery, Brother's Ruin is well worth a look. ~~I received an advanced reader copy of this ebook from the publisher, Tor.com, in exchange for my honest review. Thanks!~~ Cross-posted on BookLikes.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Denise

    Interesting set-up for further stories. Very different writing than her science fiction.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I loved this! and as always with a Tor.com novella, I wish it was longer.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    Loved it. My only real disappointment is that it isn't longer. Loved it. My only real disappointment is that it isn't longer.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    Brother’s Ruin is a real page turner and I had a blast reading it. It’s a great first instalment to this new series of Industrial Magic and I don’t know how many books there are coming, but please, let it be many. This book not only introduces the world and characters, but also sets up the next book(s) brilliantly. However, you don’t have to fear a cliffhanger, because a first story arc is satisfactorily resolved. I am so looking forward to more, because the premise for the next book is amazing a Brother’s Ruin is a real page turner and I had a blast reading it. It’s a great first instalment to this new series of Industrial Magic and I don’t know how many books there are coming, but please, let it be many. This book not only introduces the world and characters, but also sets up the next book(s) brilliantly. However, you don’t have to fear a cliffhanger, because a first story arc is satisfactorily resolved. I am so looking forward to more, because the premise for the next book is amazing and I can’t wait to find out what will be happening next. Brother’s Ruin is set in a very backward society where women don’t have much say, can’t have the same jobs as men or earn the same amount of money—well, Great Britain in the year 1850, right? Or even in some regards today. But what this book actually centres around is girl power. How one young women defies the rules of the common society, and of the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts aka the Society of Magi. Charlotte is a wonderful character. She is kind and takes no shit from anyone. She knows what she wants and gets it, even if it is only in secret. She is an ordinary woman but she dares to reach out for what she wants, even if it’s difficult or dangerous. Oh what joy! This book has such a wonderful female character. I expect her to achieve what she sets her mind to and also to grow loads and loads as a character. She watched him leave, unable to stop her eyes drifting down to his calves, so shapely within the tight legs of his trousers. Shutting her eyes, Charlotte tried to work out whether that conversation had gone well and, more important, whether the magus had really been encouraging her to do something dangerous and most definitely unladylike. I am also super intrigued by her male counterpoint, Mr. Hopkins, who has a lot of depths and also some mystery surrounding him. Although he is utterly alluring and beautiful, I love that this is absolutely not all there is to him. It’s really well done, and, frankly, I cannot wait to find out more about him, his motivations, his background and past. There is, so far, no romance here, but who knows? Maybe there will be. Vibes are there, definitely… But really, I didn’t miss a thing, so I won’t mind either way. I also like the secondary characters, although there is not very much to tell about them, since they don’t play a huge role, except Charlotte’s brother Archie, and I am not quite sure what to think about him. He obviously loves his sister and respects her decisions but he seems a bit plain and I don’t get why he is so accepting of her refusal to come forward about her magic, since he actually strongly believes it’s wrong, but ok. I can see trouble ahead, though, and I’m curious how he will develop. The world building is really cool and interesting. Not much is explained about magic and their society, so a lot of the mystery remains. But it is already obvious that there are some shenanigans going on and the next book will reveal more about this, I think. The plot development is well-paced, and despite one thing being a little too coincidental, it is, all in all, very solid, believable, and entertaining. It was a joy to read this book. I’m always on the lookout for empowering female representation and this book was a total winner in this regard. Stop mocking me, sir! I’m not some simpleton, happy to be distracted by talk of weddings and happy endings. I highly recommend Brother’s Ruin. Give me mooooaarrre. __________________________________ Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal Tags: Heterosexual Characters, Magic, Intrigue/Mystery Content Warnings for: Violence, Death, Blackmail Rating: 4.5 stars Blog: Review for Just Love Disclosure: ARC for Review

  19. 5 out of 5

    Atlas

    "You were so clearly trying to hide the sun behind a paper fan" * * * 3 / 5 Brother's Ruin was short, sweet, and over before I could really sink my teeth into it. I love the occasional book set in a quasi-Victorian setting and Brother's Ruin made use of the setting, adding a hint of magic. Newman has crafted a complex world with three different magical systems, but it seems like just as the world building and my connection to the main character, Charlotte, really starts the book is over! At barely "You were so clearly trying to hide the sun behind a paper fan" * * * 3 / 5 Brother's Ruin was short, sweet, and over before I could really sink my teeth into it. I love the occasional book set in a quasi-Victorian setting and Brother's Ruin made use of the setting, adding a hint of magic. Newman has crafted a complex world with three different magical systems, but it seems like just as the world building and my connection to the main character, Charlotte, really starts the book is over! At barely 100 pages long Brother's Ruin is tiny; I feel like Newman could have written a much larger book, one that I would have read very eagerly. At the time of my writing this review (16/02/17), the synopsis for this book was rather misleading and I think outdated. It refers to Charlotte's brother as Archie, even though he is called Ben, and the plot is rather differently described. The Brother's Ruin that I read is the short story of Charlotte Gunn, artist, fiancee, and dutiful daughter and sibling. Her father is running into debt problems, having borrowed more than he can repay in order to finance his ill son's university education. In order to save their family from the debt collectors, Charlotte hatches a bold, dangerous plan involving her brother, the magus, some breaking and entering, and a hilarious bit of swindling. I like and empathise with Charlotte, a woman in a man's world where even being an illustrator is looked down upon. She loves and cares for her sick brother, is inquisitive and nosy, and an all-round delightful character. The one primary element (other than the book being far too short!) that I disliked was the bizarre instant attraction Charlotte has to a magus, which features quite prominently in the book, despite clearly adoring her fiance. I feel like the author was trying to create an extra element of tension in the story, but only succeeded in creeping me out. "She watched him leave, unable to stop her eyes drifting down to his calves, so shapely within the tight legs of his trousers" Bit weird. Particularly for a character who won't even tell her parents that she draws because of her concern for social standing. However, this is my only key gripe. Overall, Brother's Ruin is a quick light read with a charming main character. I hope Emma Newman writes more and lengthier books in this universe. My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of this book Read this review and more on my blog: https://atlasrisingbooks.wordpress.co...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 14th March 2017 Brother’s Ruin is another of the Tor.com novella series, though this one is very obviously just the beginning of a series of novellas, rather than standing alone (as, for example, Passing Strange does). So it mostly seems to function as a way of setting up the world: there is a story here as well, but more important is the alternate reality being created. It’s sort of vaguely Victorian, but with magic as a relatively commonplace e Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 14th March 2017 Brother’s Ruin is another of the Tor.com novella series, though this one is very obviously just the beginning of a series of novellas, rather than standing alone (as, for example, Passing Strange does). So it mostly seems to function as a way of setting up the world: there is a story here as well, but more important is the alternate reality being created. It’s sort of vaguely Victorian, but with magic as a relatively commonplace event, and some steampunky elements. There’s some politics around magic and its practitioners that is obviously going to become more important as the novellas go on. The main character, Charlotte, is pretty cool. She’s part of a family and has a fiancé, but she also earns her own money through illustration work and hides her own strong magic. She’s prepared to take risks to take care of her family, and she’s fine with supporting them from her own funds. She has her weaknesses — a pretty face, apparently, as well as her strong and almost uncontrollable magic — but she also has great strengths. The reason I’m not rating this more highly is that it does feel very much like an introduction, and it only grazes the surface of the male character who is presumably going to become a much bigger part of Charlotte’s life. I don’t know what motivates him and why he’s interested, and nor do I understand why Charlotte finds him so fascinating. The scenes where she’s suddenly finding him amazingly attractive don’t quite ring true to me, given her otherwise practical nature. There’s a lot of potential here, but I’m not 100% sold — yet. Originally reviewed here.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ceki

    Just recently I've got interested in the steampunk genre, but haven't actually tried out the British Victorian era setting which inspired the genre itself. Brother's Ruin is a novella that is supposed to introduce us to the world of the 19th century London that is more or less ruled by the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. The members of this society are not allowed to marry or indulge into anything that might prevent them from being loyal and serving their country. That is one of the reasons w Just recently I've got interested in the steampunk genre, but haven't actually tried out the British Victorian era setting which inspired the genre itself. Brother's Ruin is a novella that is supposed to introduce us to the world of the 19th century London that is more or less ruled by the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. The members of this society are not allowed to marry or indulge into anything that might prevent them from being loyal and serving their country. That is one of the reasons why the common folk (who were 'unlucky' enough to have children with odd powers) are not cooperative and refuse to send their children to become the fully trained magicians... even though they get paid a nice sum for that. However, if they do refuse to report their children's magic powers, they might face the trials or even execution because it is believed that unless properly trained, those children would go wild. So, the premise of this short novella is quite interesting. And it is probably the only positive thing I can say about it. SPOILERS!!! The worst thing is definitely the annoying heroine Charlotte who acts like every stereotypical YA heroine (this novella wasn't supposed to be YA, right?). I believe she is in her early 20s but I'm not sure. She is the perfect daughter and sister who goes along well with her family, but at the same time is reluctant to tell her parents that she is a talented illustrator? Additionally, she is a selfish bitch who refuses to tell her family about her own powers, so her ill brother gets reported instead. However, his powers are very weak or even nonexistent, so what the dumb bitch does? She tries to "help" him by cheating on his tests so he could pass off her powers as his own. Of course, she didn't do that to save him from being imprisoned for false reporting - she did that because she knew if she became an apprentice she would be forbid from drawing ever again. Of course, a dumb and stereotypical YA heroine wouldn't exist without a mysterious and handsome hero that makes "her feet and toes ache" just by looking at him... He is so handsome that whenever she looks at him she forgets about her quite ordinary mustached fiance. - this is me vomiting in my mouth. The writing is quite ordinary and unimpressive. I believe the story could have been executed in a better way, but the author chose the "safe" and predictable way instead. The sequel is supposed to be released this year, but I think I can already predict half of the plot - the heroine ditches her ordinary mustached fiance (who will probably end up a villain) for a dashing and handsome hero who will become her teacher. They will save the world by themselves and make babies. But I'm going to give that book (I'm not even sure if it's going to be a full-length book or just another novella) the benefit of the doubt and check it out. Perhaps the characters will develop and the writing will be better. Perhaps, we'll see.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    * I was sent this novella for review by the publisher * This is the first novella in a very promising new series from Emma Newman. In this story it's mostly set-up for what is to come later on in the series as we meet the characters of Benjamin and Charlotte (a brother and sister), the setting of a world where magic manifests in children, and a Victorian England set up too. This story really is just the start point with small intros to the various plot threads and introductions of characters who * I was sent this novella for review by the publisher * This is the first novella in a very promising new series from Emma Newman. In this story it's mostly set-up for what is to come later on in the series as we meet the characters of Benjamin and Charlotte (a brother and sister), the setting of a world where magic manifests in children, and a Victorian England set up too. This story really is just the start point with small intros to the various plot threads and introductions of characters who will later become more essential. Overall a very enjoyable short read and a series I certainly will continue with :) 3.5*s overall

  23. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (Kalanadi)

    3.5 stars This gaslamp fantasy was charming and introduces a series with potential, but felt like a brief "story that comes before the story". Brother's Ruin is the legwork to get the series off the ground and the world and characters introduced. I will gladly read more! In this 1850's London, the government tightly controls people with magical abilities and incentivizes their families to turn their Latent relatives in by paying them. If a Latent is tested and passes, they are given education/job 3.5 stars This gaslamp fantasy was charming and introduces a series with potential, but felt like a brief "story that comes before the story". Brother's Ruin is the legwork to get the series off the ground and the world and characters introduced. I will gladly read more! In this 1850's London, the government tightly controls people with magical abilities and incentivizes their families to turn their Latent relatives in by paying them. If a Latent is tested and passes, they are given education/job offers, along with the financial amount their family will receive. Then they become civil servants, not allowed to have a personal life, to marry, or to pursue any interests outside of serving their country with their abilities. Charlotte, a young woman from a family stretched thin and too close for comfort to poverty, is a Latent. She has been carefully hiding her talent, because she does not want to be taken from her family and forced to give up her dreams. She's started a secret and so far successful job drawing illustrations (but of course under a male name) and is engaged to a kind man she loves (but who doesn't know about her job or her magic). She is extremely close to her brother, Ben, who has had to abandon his college education due to illness. Charlotte's father had to borrow money to pay for her brother's college fees, but was unable to pay it back. Charlotte intercepts a letter warning her father that his debt is due - and his life is in danger. Then, something Charlotte has done makes her father believe that her brother Ben has magical talent. Because her family direly needs funds to pay off her father's debt, Charlotte contrives with Ben to help him pass his magical tests -- all while looking into a scheme that threatens her father and has killed others. Will she successfully hide her magical abilities, pass Ben off as more talented than he actually is, and thus save her father, her family, and her own dreams of independence and domestic bliss? I liked Charlotte's quandary; her tough choices were believable. How enjoyable it is to have a story where the young woman is going to save everyone, and she's quite ordinary! She protects her brother and her father, and she takes on an investigation into magical rites that may be killing others - in order to prevent the deaths of more men. I believed the kindness in her and that she has the backbone to talk back to the men she thinks have done wrong. She is still a woman concerned with being a lady of her time, and she is constrained because of her gender, but she has agency. It's hard, however, to not feel like the resolution to these problems is a little too easy. I acknowledge, though, that it sort of has to be easier because Charlotte is inexperienced and lacks tools. Her efforts are clumsy, more inclined to success due to luck than skill, and she's mostly helped along by her genuine goodness. What do I expect from this series going forward? I really, really hope we'll see Charlotte achieve her domestic bliss and balance it with her future dangerous tasks. Based on the ending, it looks more likely that she will become disappointed by her fiancee's lack of perception, but I can dream because I think this novella, with feminist overtones and subtle defiance of expectations, could promise more. And finally, one (perhaps spoilery) note that I wondered about: (view spoiler)[A problem I had was the extreme to which Charlotte is taken in by Magus Hopkins' physical attractiveness. He's a stunningly beautiful man, but this never seems to wear off with repeated exposure. Even though Charlotte is a little distressed by her attraction to him and believes, eventually, that he's done some repugnant things and badly used her - she still finds herself a little helpless under his gaze, in his presence, when he touches her. It made me ask if she was genuinely under a compulsion or spell? Is there something going on with Hopkins? (hide spoiler)]

  24. 4 out of 5

    Billiebumblebee

    YES EMMA NEWMAN YES! THANK YOU! In not even 200 pages you’ve given me everything I love - action, skirts, manners, magic, siblings, mystery, espionage, great characters and so much more. It’s like you wrote this novella specifically just for me. I loved it. The pacing was excellent and the characters were so vivid and alive. I’m especially impressed with how quickly they managed to charm me considering the short amount of time they had to introduce themselves to me. The story was compelling and ev YES EMMA NEWMAN YES! THANK YOU! In not even 200 pages you’ve given me everything I love - action, skirts, manners, magic, siblings, mystery, espionage, great characters and so much more. It’s like you wrote this novella specifically just for me. I loved it. The pacing was excellent and the characters were so vivid and alive. I’m especially impressed with how quickly they managed to charm me considering the short amount of time they had to introduce themselves to me. The story was compelling and even though it only dipped into a very small happening of a fascinating world (that I definitely want to see more of), it was well balanced and though out. Exciting and wondrous! This novella reminded me a bit of Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series, it had the same strong and colourful characters, but was less whimsical and with a different tone. It also reminded me of Genevieve Cogman's The Invisible Library series. So if you liked any of those two great series this novella will most surely be of interest to you. Having finished this novella minutes ago I am feeling wonderfully content and uplifted – a feeling that only a great book can give me. So thank you and please Emma Newman, give me more. Soon. Now.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Karina Webster

    I really enjoyed this! I only wish it was a full length novel!!

  26. 5 out of 5

    The Captain

    Ahoy there me mateys! I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . . This novella was quick-paced, a fast read, and fun. The story is set in 1850s Great Britain which was win number one. Win number two was the protagonist, Charlotte Gunn – intelligent, feisty, and loving (me favorite type). Win number three was the magical society set up in this book. Charlotte is a woman who wants normal things like marrying her fiance and having a Ahoy there me mateys! I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . . This novella was quick-paced, a fast read, and fun. The story is set in 1850s Great Britain which was win number one. Win number two was the protagonist, Charlotte Gunn – intelligent, feisty, and loving (me favorite type). Win number three was the magical society set up in this book. Charlotte is a woman who wants normal things like marrying her fiance and having a family. She also wants slightly more challenging modern things like continuing to earn her own income from her illustrations and keeping her male publishing pseudonym unknown. But most challenging off all is keeping her magic talent a secret. If it is found out, the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts will claim her and her dreams of the future will be forfeit. Keeping her magic a secret is not so easy. Charlotte has the guilt of not joining the Society to give her parents and brother a better life as well as the challenge of holding her magic in check and not going “Wild.” However events soon spiral out of control and Charlotte has to decide whether her dreams or her realities will determine her choices. This novella is super short at 192 pages and felt more like a set-up or prequel to a longer novel. I loved it and wanted more. Charlotte’s family members were loving, struggled, and were realistic in many of their reactions to the occurring events. The magic of the society is introduced but ye don’t get all the bells and whistles of how it works or what it can do . . . yet. The plot was predictable at a few points but I didn’t care. The novella had a great ending, left lots of questions to be explored, and had tantalizing hints of what may happen next. Whether the next installment be a novella or (hopefully) a longer novel – sign me up! Side note: This author sounded familiar because I had just purchased her other novel planetfall, a sci-fi, to read! Stay tuned for that review in the next log post. So lastly . . . Thank you Macmillian-Tor/Forge! see me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Devann

    This was a decent enough idea for a series and there's some interesting [if a little predictable] world-building going on here but this just felt more like the first half of a novel rather than a self-contained first book in a series to me. Usually I like books that are this length [200-ish pages is probably my ideal book length due to my attention span], but that's only if the author can manage to get a complete story into that space and this author did not. Another thing that was annoying was t This was a decent enough idea for a series and there's some interesting [if a little predictable] world-building going on here but this just felt more like the first half of a novel rather than a self-contained first book in a series to me. Usually I like books that are this length [200-ish pages is probably my ideal book length due to my attention span], but that's only if the author can manage to get a complete story into that space and this author did not. Another thing that was annoying was the 'romance' aspect, which I feel barely deserves that label but nonetheless is setting up an obvious love triangle for future books and I think we all know how I feel about love triangles. It wasn't a bad book by any means but there wasn't really anything to elevate it to that next level for me, and with my TBR the way it is I have to be very picky about which series I continue on with so I think I'm going to have to abandon this series here.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Hedwig

    Magic in an industrial revolution-style setting. A hot mage. Skullduggery. Manners. Tea. Feminism. Basically, I loved it 😍😍😍😍😍

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine

    Well I trust absolutely no one in this bar and desperately need to know what happens next.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Wakizashi

    ‘“Thems what go in there like this”—the woman held a hand up, fingers pointing at the sky— “come out like this”—she tipped her hand until the palm was horizontal.’ (Loc 316) In an alternative London in 1850, the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts is recruiting raw, untrained magicians. And they are prepared to pay families handsomely for such talent. Benjamin Gunn and his sister Charlotte appear to have some magical capabilities and one of them is brought to the attention of the Society. This nov ‘“Thems what go in there like this”—the woman held a hand up, fingers pointing at the sky— “come out like this”—she tipped her hand until the palm was horizontal.’ (Loc 316) In an alternative London in 1850, the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts is recruiting raw, untrained magicians. And they are prepared to pay families handsomely for such talent. Benjamin Gunn and his sister Charlotte appear to have some magical capabilities and one of them is brought to the attention of the Society. This novella by Emma Newman tells the first part of their story, paving the way for more books in what is billed as “a new gaslamp fantasy series” by the author. Brother's Ruin is a short and entertaining novella which builds an interesting world around its characters. It’s Victorian England with magic, although Newman refrains from depicting magical battles in the vein of the Harry Potter books. The magic in this story is more restrained. “I’d like you to ignite the wick without the use of any tools or assistance of any kind. You’re not permitted to touch the candle, but you may look at it. Do you understand the task?” (Loc 1256) The characters are well fleshed out, if a little stereotypical at times: the strong-willed daughter, the nice-but-frail brother, the well-meaning yet foolish father, and the plain-speaking, rude villain from up North. This sounds dismissive but Newman does breathe life into these characters, and I wanted to know what would happen to them next. The brother began to annoy me after a while, but then isn’t that a sign of good writing; the words on the page provoking an emotional reaction in me, the reader? There is a second plotline about some mysterious disappearances in the neighborhood which may or may not be linked to the Royal Society. In an attempt to aid her family, Charlotte becomes mixed up in this intrigue, leading her into a dangerous world which lurks just under the surface of “proper” Victorian society. Newman ties the threads of the story together as we approach the end and leaves the reader hungry for more. Overall, this was a light, enjoyable story which was fun to read but over too quickly. It feels like Newman used this novella as a set-up for the main story that will follow later this year. The depiction of magic is intriguing and reminded me a little bit of Jonathan Strange and Mister Norrell. The dialogue is a touch corny at times, and a character or two may annoy some readers, but I had a good time following Charlotte’s journey. Originally blogged here: https://biginjapangrayman.wordpress.c...

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