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The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry

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A charming historical fantasy with a tender love story at its core, from the author of Unnatural Magic. Hard-drinking petty thief Dellaria Wells is down on her luck in the city of Leiscourt—again. Then she sees a want ad for a female bodyguard, and she fast-talks her way into the high-paying job. Along with a team of other women, she’s meant to protect a rich young lady fro A charming historical fantasy with a tender love story at its core, from the author of Unnatural Magic. Hard-drinking petty thief Dellaria Wells is down on her luck in the city of Leiscourt—again. Then she sees a want ad for a female bodyguard, and she fast-talks her way into the high-paying job. Along with a team of other women, she’s meant to protect a rich young lady from mysterious assassins. At first Delly thinks the danger is exaggerated, but a series of attacks shows there’s much to fear. Then she begins to fall for Winn, one of the other bodyguards, and the women team up against a mysterious, magical foe who seems to have allies everywhere.


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A charming historical fantasy with a tender love story at its core, from the author of Unnatural Magic. Hard-drinking petty thief Dellaria Wells is down on her luck in the city of Leiscourt—again. Then she sees a want ad for a female bodyguard, and she fast-talks her way into the high-paying job. Along with a team of other women, she’s meant to protect a rich young lady fro A charming historical fantasy with a tender love story at its core, from the author of Unnatural Magic. Hard-drinking petty thief Dellaria Wells is down on her luck in the city of Leiscourt—again. Then she sees a want ad for a female bodyguard, and she fast-talks her way into the high-paying job. Along with a team of other women, she’s meant to protect a rich young lady from mysterious assassins. At first Delly thinks the danger is exaggerated, but a series of attacks shows there’s much to fear. Then she begins to fall for Winn, one of the other bodyguards, and the women team up against a mysterious, magical foe who seems to have allies everywhere.

30 review for The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Well! It’s another brilliant, action packed, well written story takes us back to Unnatural Magic’s world which was one of my favorite, underrated gems of the last year. So as soon as I saw the author’s name and this hypnotizing cover, I clicked the request button so fast ( I think I might have broken my mouse! No, I’m not talking about my computer mouse: I’m mentioning my house mouse who serves as a muse when I’m writing horror scripts!) I got so excited to start the new book of the series! The Well! It’s another brilliant, action packed, well written story takes us back to Unnatural Magic’s world which was one of my favorite, underrated gems of the last year. So as soon as I saw the author’s name and this hypnotizing cover, I clicked the request button so fast ( I think I might have broken my mouse! No, I’m not talking about my computer mouse: I’m mentioning my house mouse who serves as a muse when I’m writing horror scripts!) I got so excited to start the new book of the series! The storyline is also original with her struggling heroine Delly who is con artist, a thief, carrying the burden of her addict mother, working hard to find a way out. Then her prays get answered and she sees a want add for bodyguard and she applies without thinking a second because the payment is satisfying and this job can open her doors to say goodbye to her old miserable life. And dear Delly gets the job which includes protecting a young rich lady against the assassins. She thinks this job easy as pie. There is no real threat and that lady is just a drama Queen who overreacts about her situation and she couldn’t be so wrong! The threat is so real! And of course falling for Winn who is one of the other bodyguards will make things so much complicated in her life! Delly seemed like a complex, a little dislikable anti heroine at first. She was confused, a typical walking talking disaster. I’m so pleased to witness how she learns to face the challenges and be mature by taking more responsibilities in her life or facing the consequences of her actions. I liked the first book more but I still enjoyed the world building, creative and original storyline and lovely queer characters already stole my heart. Especially character of Delly’s evolvement was entertaining to read. So I’m rounding up my 3.5 stars to 4 supernatural, magical , query, high fantasy stars! I’m looking forward to return back this universe with new books of the series! Special thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions. blog instagram facebook twitter

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lex Kent

    3.75 Stars. This was oddball book but I enjoyed it anyway. I don’t get to read a lot of historic fantasy so I’m always excited to read them when I can. This has a Victorian feel but with witches, trolls, necromancers, and an animal shifter. I have read other fantasy books that take place in a similar time period and place, but I really liked the different mix of beings and magic. It’s been a while since I have read a book that even had a troll in it, and then you put them in this kind of setting 3.75 Stars. This was oddball book but I enjoyed it anyway. I don’t get to read a lot of historic fantasy so I’m always excited to read them when I can. This has a Victorian feel but with witches, trolls, necromancers, and an animal shifter. I have read other fantasy books that take place in a similar time period and place, but I really liked the different mix of beings and magic. It’s been a while since I have read a book that even had a troll in it, and then you put them in this kind of setting and the book felt more unique because of it. Like most fantasy books, especially ones that have a different way for characters to speak and even new names for things, it took me a little while to get into the story. I actually felt comfortable faster than I expected because most of the new names and phrases where very easy to understand. While it was annoying that the troll character said What? at the end of every other sentence -even when a question was not asked- I thought all the other differences where well done. I also thought the world building was intergraded pretty seamlessly. I don’t recall thinking ‘oh here comes another info dump’, instead I found myself pretty immersed and felt like I learned everything that I needed know. One of the main reasons I wanted to read this, besides it being historical fantasy, was that this promised a sapphic romance. The main character, Dell, is a petty criminal, bisexual, fire-witch. When Dell takes a job to be a magical bodyguard, she meets a fellow bodyguard, our troll, Winn. Dell sees Winn as a mark, someone wealthy to buy her gifts or maybe even the long game to wife up with her, but things start to change when real feeling get involved. I was actually surprised how much time was spent on the romance. It was more than I expected and I was happy with it. There were no explicit sex scenes. It was a little annoying that Dell slept with a couple guys but never with her potential love interest, but that’s because Winn wanted to treat her like a lady. There were a couple passionate scenes but nothing really explicit. It was interesting that this book had a bit of a darker feel, one of the storylines is about the drug trade, there is some death, attempted revenge, and people that have it tough in life. But this book was also quirky and had humor that made you feel like this wasn’t dark fantasy at all. It was a really interesting and well done balance. I always talk about how I struggle with book humor, but here I found quite a few things funny and I didn’t even realize that they were jokes. It was subtle dark humor and it leads me to my favorite character, Mr. Buttons, a dead mouse that is being inhabited by something…. I’m being vague here not to spoil anything but it was so damn bazaar and unique that I completely loved the thing. I would recommend this book to historic fantasy fans. There are not a ton of books in this category so it is always nice when a good new one comes out. This did have a few pacing issues. It’s funny, but after the first one third of the book, it almost felt like the book should be ending, but then it climbs up again for another adventure. So the pace was a bit up and down and I think I would have edited a few parts out. On the other hand, some of the slower parts where nice because it gave time for Winn and Dell to grow closer. Anyway, I think most sapphic historical fantasy fans will enjoy this even with the few bumps it has. I don’t know if there will be a sequel but I would absolutely read more about Winn and Dell. In the meantime, I will read Unnatural Magic that takes place in the same world but with different characters. A copy was given to me for a honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Berit☀️✨

    whimsical. Magical. Fantastical. C. M. Waggoner completely pulled me into this enchanting story with her quirky and unique writing style. before you start this book I think it is important that you are aware of the fact that the dialogue in the story is highly original. It is almost as if they are speaking a different language but they aren’t. At first this threw me off a little but by the end of the book I was completely acclimated to the style. I have to think The colorful language drew me int whimsical. Magical. Fantastical. C. M. Waggoner completely pulled me into this enchanting story with her quirky and unique writing style. before you start this book I think it is important that you are aware of the fact that the dialogue in the story is highly original. It is almost as if they are speaking a different language but they aren’t. At first this threw me off a little but by the end of the book I was completely acclimated to the style. I have to think The colorful language drew me into this world even more. The colorful language also was perfectly suited for our antiheroine Delly. Delly is a sharp, spunky, spirited fire witch who is in need of funds fast. When Delly sees an ad for a job as a bodyguard of a rich lady in need of being guarded before her wedding she is eager to apply. How hard can this be? Delly is certain the lady is exaggerating her peril. But Delly soon finds out the threat is real and it has put herself and her new friends in danger. because Delly never anticipated making new friends and meeting a possible romantic interest. This was just so much fun! Definitely not my usual genre but it was such an enjoyable story. loved the relationship between Delly and Winn. Winn was half troll half female and one of the most kind caring characters I’ve ever read. The characters in the story were so accepting. Everything was so fluid your appearance, your gender, your sexuality. The mystery was interesting and made even more complex by everyone’s ability to change their appearance. A little magic... a little historical fiction... a little romance... a little mystery... and a whole lotta fun! This book in emojis 🧙🏻‍♂️ 💰 🧪 🚰 🐭 *** Big thank you to Berkley for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ***

  4. 5 out of 5

    Misha (Heartsfullofreads)

    I did not expect to love Dellaria Wells as a character as much as I did, I was pleasantly surprised. Delly is a petty thief who thinks very little of herself due to the way she was raised. She soon finds out that your "station" in life doesn't make you. I enjoyed this world filled with magic. The characters were well written and worked well together. I enjoyed the banter, the mystery, and learning more about everyone's backgrounds. I hope the second book of the series comes out soon because I ca I did not expect to love Dellaria Wells as a character as much as I did, I was pleasantly surprised. Delly is a petty thief who thinks very little of herself due to the way she was raised. She soon finds out that your "station" in life doesn't make you. I enjoyed this world filled with magic. The characters were well written and worked well together. I enjoyed the banter, the mystery, and learning more about everyone's backgrounds. I hope the second book of the series comes out soon because I can't wait to see what is next for this group! *RECEIVED BY NETGALLEY FOR AN HONEST REVIEW*

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    DNF at 70% I rarely DNF so late in the game, but I'm struggling to get through this one and really just don't care how things wrap up. The early part of the book was fantastic- pseudo-Victorian fantasy with magic and a quirky, bisexual thief turned body guard? So fun! And it was...until it wasn't. From about 25% on it was just so incredibly dull, moving at a snails pace without any real mystery or conflict to drive the plot forward. I like the idea of this slow burn sapphic relationship between t DNF at 70% I rarely DNF so late in the game, but I'm struggling to get through this one and really just don't care how things wrap up. The early part of the book was fantastic- pseudo-Victorian fantasy with magic and a quirky, bisexual thief turned body guard? So fun! And it was...until it wasn't. From about 25% on it was just so incredibly dull, moving at a snails pace without any real mystery or conflict to drive the plot forward. I like the idea of this slow burn sapphic relationship between the MC and a half-troll woman from the gentry, but while I like the characters it wasn't enough to keep me from getting bogged down in the repetition and minute details. (cleaning an apartment, making breakfast, meeting at a coffee shop, cleaning an old building, eating lunch, going to the bathhouse, falling asleep, drinking coffee...) For a book about magic and a dangerous drug ring, it's remarkably boring. Which is unfortunate.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mackenzie - PhDiva Books

    Quirky, fun, and surprising--I had so much fun reading this! I wasn't sure what to expect. Waggoner has built a fantasy world that seems to be set historically in a Victorian-esque period where the divide among classes couldn't be more prominent, identity and romantic interests are fluid, and magic is a gift bestowed on a few! Delly is a girl born in a dustbin in the ally behind a brothel (aka not the wealthy part of town) and she is constantly struggling to pay rent and keep her mother off of the Quirky, fun, and surprising--I had so much fun reading this! I wasn't sure what to expect. Waggoner has built a fantasy world that seems to be set historically in a Victorian-esque period where the divide among classes couldn't be more prominent, identity and romantic interests are fluid, and magic is a gift bestowed on a few! Delly is a girl born in a dustbin in the ally behind a brothel (aka not the wealthy part of town) and she is constantly struggling to pay rent and keep her mother off of the red drip. Of course, it doesn't help that her landlady can cast a wicked binding spell for her rent that will cause her to break out in pustules if she doesn't pay on time! So when Delly is looking for a way to earn some quick cash, she stumbles across the need for a band of female wizards to protect a wealthy lady as she prepares for her wedding. The band of women couldn't be more strange--but they are just the sort to protect their charge from someone who seems intent on attacking her. Soon Delly and the others are embroiled in quite an adventure as the case takes twists and turns that lead Delly closer to her home than she realized. She may just be able to afford her rent, save the lady in waiting, and rescue her mother while she's at it! I loved how delightfully strange this book was! The hardest thing to get used to was the writing, or I should say the dialogue. Delly and the others adapt their speech quite a bit depending who they are speaking to and it took a bit to get used to their style. Once I did, I really had so much fun! The magic in and of itself was secondary to the other parts of the book, which is a world in which people don't seem to be thrown by a half-troll-half-woman, a shape-shifter, a mouse skeleton who seems to be alive, and much more. The characters that inhabit this world are refreshingly open to one another and to finding a connection with any creature, male, female, or otherwise. Fans of historical fantasy will love this story! Thank you to Berkley for my copy. Opinions are my own.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sana

    A petty thief turned bodyguard to a rich young lady falling in love with another bodyguard, the WLW we all deserve 🙏🙏

  8. 5 out of 5

    ❀ Alex ❀ (The Scribe Owl)

    See this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl! Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Ace for an ARC in exchange for an honest review! 3/5 stars I requested this book so long ago that by the time I read it I forgot what it was about. Oops. But it's all good because going into books blind can be fun too! That said, this book was nothing like my, albeit limited, knowledge of it presumed it would be. Hard-drinking petty thief Dellaria Wells is down on her luck in the city of Leiscourt—again. Then she sees a See this review and more at my blog, The Scribe Owl! Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Ace for an ARC in exchange for an honest review! 3/5 stars I requested this book so long ago that by the time I read it I forgot what it was about. Oops. But it's all good because going into books blind can be fun too! That said, this book was nothing like my, albeit limited, knowledge of it presumed it would be. Hard-drinking petty thief Dellaria Wells is down on her luck in the city of Leiscourt—again. Then she sees a want ad for a female bodyguard, and she fast-talks her way into the high-paying job. Along with a team of other women, she’s meant to protect a rich young lady from mysterious assassins. At first, Delly thinks the danger is exaggerated, but a series of attacks shows there’s much to fear. Then she begins to fall for Winn, one of the other bodyguards, and the women team up against a mysterious, magical foe who seems to have allies everywhere. This book was, for lack of a better word, unique. I'm having trouble even coming up with comprehensive sentences to describe it! The writing gives it a quirky sense of humor, making it very unlike other books I've read. There have always been more or less two categories: poetic prose and juvenile yet humorous writing. The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry seemed to be somewhere in the middle. There was nothing juvenile about the writing, but the dry humor was more characteristic of that kind of novel. I loved it! It's so hard to come by new things now. The writing was the best part of the book. As the story is told from Delly's point of view, I loved to look at the world created through the lens of part of the underbelly! Delly is honestly such a fun narrator. The setting seems to be in a late 1800-ish kind of world, with the noticeable inclusion of magic. The world is decently well built and paints a historical background with a light brush. The characters match the writing style in every sense. The writing style was quirky and fun, but so were the characters! Delly is not your usual protagonist. She's a little bumbling, but endearingly so. I've read about characters that were meant to be like Delly, but the execution was off. Thankfully, the execution was fantastic and Delly was exactly how intended. Where The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry lost me was the plot. I enjoyed the characters, but not enough to let them carry the book. The first third or so was interesting, but then we pivoted on our heal and started choosing down another road. Books with multiple plots annoy me to no end, and this was no exception. The pacing was a little off too. Once the cast got back from everything that happened in the first third of the book, they did pretty absolutely nothing for way too long. All in all, this was a decent read. It was unlike anything I've read before and has great potential! A few things were off for me, but I had a good time in the end.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cande

    The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry found a way to be disappointing in every single aspect of the story, the only exciting thing was that long title, to be honest. Characters had one personality trait, romance was very underdeveloped, there was not world-building and the mystery was so predictable. The book had no stakes or investment, wastes a lot of time in pointless discussions, and the resolution was so unsatisfying that almost feels like a personal offense. I was promised sapphic bodyguar The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry found a way to be disappointing in every single aspect of the story, the only exciting thing was that long title, to be honest. Characters had one personality trait, romance was very underdeveloped, there was not world-building and the mystery was so predictable. The book had no stakes or investment, wastes a lot of time in pointless discussions, and the resolution was so unsatisfying that almost feels like a personal offense. I was promised sapphic bodyguards trying to protect their lady from a mysterious enemy. Instead, that whole plot was resolved in the first chapters, spending the rest of the book in a quest for revenge, but not really. This was so slow that it was ridiculous. As I said, a lot of wasted time in pointless descriptions that went nowhere. Although we know who and how is committing the crimes, I thought at least we could get some excitement from the why. I WAS SO WRONG. There was nothing to resolve, nothing to address and I couldn't wait to be over of this dreadful experience. It's such a linear novel, we have no plot-twists or character development. The romance was laughable. I'm a romance fan and when someones tell me romance, I'm expecting emotion, care, maybe some flirt, and a lot of swoons. Here I got nothing. Maybe because I had no investment in these caricatures of characters, but their romance was so bland. And let's not talk about that whole break-up and how the book never addresses Delly's actions. This story said we don't like consequences here. So yes, disappointing mystery and plot, boring romance, terrible characters but the worst was the world-building. Or better said, the lack of. This is supposed to be a Victorian fantasy, I guess, with magic, wizards, and all types of magical creatures. Even if I want to tell you more about it, I can't. There are no explanations about the magic, they briefly talk about social class and that's it. I don't understand how this society works and I don't get why they talk so annoyingly. It was bland and mediocre, it gives me nothing exciting. The characters would keep mentioning places or names that I guess I should recognize? Or rememeber? I didn't because this is one of those books that are just not memorable. Except for the headache that gave me. The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry was nothing special, the longest 300 pages I have ever read. THROW TO THE GARBAGE!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shanice

    A big thank you to the publisher and the author for providing me with an arc of this book! "Oh is there breakfast?" Delly said, enormously relieved. "I thought that perhaps it was just toast and tea and self-denial, for the gentler classes." Perhaps you've been waiting on a sign on whether or not you should pick this book up. Well this is it. I'm telling you to preorder this book RIGHT NOW because it is 100% worth it. I loved this so much I can't even put it into words, and the only thing I'm con A big thank you to the publisher and the author for providing me with an arc of this book! "Oh is there breakfast?" Delly said, enormously relieved. "I thought that perhaps it was just toast and tea and self-denial, for the gentler classes." Perhaps you've been waiting on a sign on whether or not you should pick this book up. Well this is it. I'm telling you to preorder this book RIGHT NOW because it is 100% worth it. I loved this so much I can't even put it into words, and the only thing I'm conflicted about right now is whether to put this on my 2020 or 2021 favourites list. There's a slow burn sapphic bodyguard romance between two witches. Need I say more? I picked this book up without having read any other books by this author and besides needing maybe the first 20% of the book to get a little used to the world this proved no problem at all for me. The writing style is amazing, it might not be for everyone but it definitely was my cup of tea. I literally smiled like an idiot or laughed out loud every other page, I'm not kidding. "Good night, Winn," Delly whispered, feeling a warm surge of somethingness in her generally stony-hearted breast. Yep, I'm melting too.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Abbie | nerdyabbie

    Delightful, whimsical, witchy fun! Hard-drinking petty thief Dellaria Wells is down on her luck in the city of Leiscourt—again. Then she sees a want ad for a female bodyguard, and she fast-talks her way into the high-paying job. Along with a team of other women, she’s meant to protect a rich young lady from mysterious assassins. At first, Delly thinks the danger is exaggerated, but a series of attacks shows there’s much to fear. Then she begins to fall for Winn, one of the other bodyguards, and th Delightful, whimsical, witchy fun! Hard-drinking petty thief Dellaria Wells is down on her luck in the city of Leiscourt—again. Then she sees a want ad for a female bodyguard, and she fast-talks her way into the high-paying job. Along with a team of other women, she’s meant to protect a rich young lady from mysterious assassins. At first, Delly thinks the danger is exaggerated, but a series of attacks shows there’s much to fear. Then she begins to fall for Winn, one of the other bodyguards, and the women team up against a mysterious, magical foe who seems to have allies everywhere. This was just a breath of fresh air. Right of the bat, I loved the writing style and magical world within this story. I’m always a sucker for historical fiction, paired with fantastical elements. I loved Delly’s spunk, and everything about this book to be utterly enchanting. Would definitely pick this one up if you’re looking for a fluffy read! Big thank you to Berkley Publishing Group + Netgalley for sending me an ARC copy of this book!

  12. 4 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Annie Deo The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry is an adult historical fantasy novel that takes place in a pseudo-Victorian setting which has been turned on its head. Picture a noir-inspired protagonist starring in a quirky regency romance with witches and trolls and you’ll have the beginnings of an understanding of this colourful, whimsically inventive story. While the author has previously published a novel Unnatural Magic which first establishe Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Annie Deo The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry is an adult historical fantasy novel that takes place in a pseudo-Victorian setting which has been turned on its head. Picture a noir-inspired protagonist starring in a quirky regency romance with witches and trolls and you’ll have the beginnings of an understanding of this colourful, whimsically inventive story. While the author has previously published a novel Unnatural Magic which first establishes the world in which we meet our ruthless heroine Dellaria Wells, this book can easily be read as a standalone. Delly is a self-described gutterwitch who grew up in the poor part of town and was raised by a neglectful mother too focused on her drug addiction to worry about her daughter. The author adopts a unique writing style to match Delly’s crass street cadence and tendency to mash together words making up non-existent terms like ‘considerationary’ or ‘productivication’ which may be off-putting to some readers at first, but I quickly acclimatised and found it made the reading experience much more immersive. Read the FULL REVIEW on The Nerd Daily

  13. 4 out of 5

    ☕️Kimberly

    Dellaria Wells is a petty thief and sometimes drunk who is living in Leiscourt. She has two immediate goals. Get her mother off the drip and pay the landlord the rent before she breaks out in boils. Dellaria is a fire witch, and when she sees an advert for a bodyguard, it seems like a dream come true. She joins a team of other women, to protect a rich young lady from mysterious assassins. From the world to the assorted group of females, I loved this story. Part investigative mystery, and part mag Dellaria Wells is a petty thief and sometimes drunk who is living in Leiscourt. She has two immediate goals. Get her mother off the drip and pay the landlord the rent before she breaks out in boils. Dellaria is a fire witch, and when she sees an advert for a bodyguard, it seems like a dream come true. She joins a team of other women, to protect a rich young lady from mysterious assassins. From the world to the assorted group of females, I loved this story. Part investigative mystery, and part magic, it offered a delightful slow-burning LGBT romance that fans of historical fantasy will want to add to their shelf. Most of the characters are female, from the landlord to the villain. Each woman on their team brought unique magic skills. The threat was freaky and involved the use of necromancy. Perhaps my favorite character was of all things a rat… but I will let you learn about that on your own. We see character growth, friendships develop, and watch the romance between Dellaria and Winn. Their relationship felt genuine, as did the struggles Dellaria went through. Winn was a peach. I would love to see this gang get together again, but loved how the story wrapped up. This was my first experience with C.M. Waggoner. I would not hesitate to read her again. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Reviewer

  14. 5 out of 5

    laurel [the suspected bibliophile]

    DNF at 70%. I don't know if it was the writing, the pacing, my mood or what, but despite being one of my most highly anticipated reads of 2021, this fell flat. I can't believe I pushed through until 70% and DNF'd, and that I didn't push through for the rest, but after a several-day slog where I was skimming more than reading, I had to call it quits. Victorian writing—much less pseudo fantasy Victorian writing—is a hard sell for me, and I'm not certain if I would have requested this or put it on my DNF at 70%. I don't know if it was the writing, the pacing, my mood or what, but despite being one of my most highly anticipated reads of 2021, this fell flat. I can't believe I pushed through until 70% and DNF'd, and that I didn't push through for the rest, but after a several-day slog where I was skimming more than reading, I had to call it quits. Victorian writing—much less pseudo fantasy Victorian writing—is a hard sell for me, and I'm not certain if I would have requested this or put it on my TBR had I known. However, I LOVE f/f fantasy, although I was scratching my head over the randomness of trolls in an otherwise fairly standard Victorian-esque fantasy setting (which makes me nervous for the companion novel, which I bought and have not read yet). I enjoyed the characters, but the pacing felt super off. It went from going at a good clip until the grand reveal, and then it became nothing but waiting, practicing, waiting, looking for mam, waiting, bathhouses, a convoluted drug-making plot, more waiting, much angst with Winn, a weird mouse, and more waiting. About 30% of it was waiting or talking about what they were going to do and planning, and it was just so damn boring. I did appreciate the worldbuilding, which had some unique twists alongside the standard mock-Victorian, and the commentary on polite young ladies, privilege and poverty. Maybe I would have enjoyed this if I was in a better mindset, but I needed something that connected me to the writing better, and this wasn't it. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jackie ϟ Bookseller

    I received an ARC of this title from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. "'Oh, is there breakfast?' Delly said, enormously relieved. 'I thought that perhaps it was just toast and tea and self-denial, for the gentler classes.'" 4/5 stars: ★★★★☆ In The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry, Delly, an untrained fire witch barely scraping by in life while trying to care for her drug-addicted mother, takes up a position as a personal bodyguard in hope of turning her life around wit I received an ARC of this title from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. "'Oh, is there breakfast?' Delly said, enormously relieved. 'I thought that perhaps it was just toast and tea and self-denial, for the gentler classes.'" 4/5 stars: ★★★★☆ In The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry, Delly, an untrained fire witch barely scraping by in life while trying to care for her drug-addicted mother, takes up a position as a personal bodyguard in hope of turning her life around with the payout. When the young woman Delly has been assigned to protect begins facing regular and dramatic threats to her life, however, things get complicated- and close to home. Suddenly, Delly and the other bodyguards find themselves dragged into a winding search for a violent and desperate murderer, though they uncover much more along the way. This was just as much fun as Waggoner's previous book, Unnatural Magic, though I think I enjoyed Ruthless even more. Waggoner's writing style is quirky and unique, never taking itself seriously while always making its points clear to the reader. I also loved this plot structure- just when the mystery appears solved, it launches off into yet another unexpected turn toward a detailed and dastardly plot that I certainly did not see coming. Also, did I mention that nearly every character, from the heroes to the villians and everyone in between, is female? And that many are queer, nonbinary, and generally accepting of all and even against heteronormativity? Or that this book has both lgbt romance AND female friendship? Exceptional! Which also brings me to the romance between Delly and a fellow bodyguard-turned-fellon, Winn. While I feel like some of Delly's introspective thoughts about her doubts regarding the relationship came a bit out of nowhere, I did relate to them a tiny bit, too, so overall, I think I like the relationship and the path it took. I would have just felt better, I think, if Delly had expressed her "self-serving" concerns (keeping it vague to avoid spoilers) a little earlier and more clearly, even if those concerns were just in her own head. She did a little bit, but I don't know...something feels like it got lost in translation between seeing Winn as a "mark" and a means of improving her life financially at the beginning of the book, and actually falling in love with her by the end (though I think that happened much earlier). It felt a bit muddled. Overall though, The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry is a fun, twisty, female-dominated tale full of wit, romance, and a very nasty villain. It shows women in nearly every stage of life, every level of role in a story, and through every vulnerability and every strength imaginable- even those traditionally reserved for men. Oh, and did I forget to mention the "wizardry" while rambling on about all the "ruthless ladies"? Because yes, there's magic, too, and so much else to love in this forward-thinking romp of a book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    3.5 stars, but on the weak side. I have conflicting feelings about this book. On one hand I found it quite entertaining and somehow homely and welcoming, but on the other hand I don't think it will stay with me. The impression it left wasn't all that deep. I have not read Waggoner's first book, Unnatural Magic, and at times I felt as if I might have benefited from having read it, just to have a firmer grasp of the world-building. If there were any hints at backstories in this book, that had be 3.5 stars, but on the weak side. I have conflicting feelings about this book. On one hand I found it quite entertaining and somehow homely and welcoming, but on the other hand I don't think it will stay with me. The impression it left wasn't all that deep. I have not read Waggoner's first book, Unnatural Magic, and at times I felt as if I might have benefited from having read it, just to have a firmer grasp of the world-building. If there were any hints at backstories in this book, that had been touched upon in Unnatural Magic, they passed by miles over my head. It wasn't a real problem though. This book worked well on its own. In many ways I found it a strange book. It mixes and matches and takes whatever genres it feels like and just goes with it. This is both successful and at times a bit of a miss, at least for me. The way I saw it, the book couldn't really settle into whether it wanted to be a mystery or a cosy buddy story or a romance or an endless description of meals. I mean, it worked, but it made the book feel far longer than I thought it needed to be and by the time it actually ended I was sure I had just finished a book the size of 700 pages or so. I was a bit amazed when I checked and saw that it's "only" around 400. The plot puttered on in a slow, but steady pace most of the time. To be frank, it felt like it could go on forever with the ladies cooking drip, Delly and Winn courting and Delly thinking about her mother, but then suddenly the ending came crashing in and it was over pretty quickly. I already had mild whiplash from the moment where all the ladies somehow goes: "You know what! Going 100% Breaking Bad is the only way to solve this problem! Let's cook the best meth Drip in town!" Ehh.... Well, I'm still not sure why they actually came to that particular conclusion, maybe I spaced out or something, I don't know, but of course it worked out so... *shrug* But seriously, some of the food descriptions felt like they had more depth to them than the minor characters on the sideline. The only two in the cast that are well-formed characters are the main character, Delly, and her love interest, Winn. These two are treated very nicely by the author and especially Delly gets to grow and find herself and her worth within the span of the story. Sure, the other characters have lots of spunk and are fun ladies, but most focus is on Delly. However, I found the whole "Delly is a fire witch" to be a bit of a let down. She has the sort of magic that at times seems to produce wonders, but then at other times Delly somehow forgets she even has (powerful) magic and can use it to defend herself or someone else. Magic of Convenience, I call that. It comes and goes when it's convenient for the story - a.k.a. I'm not a huge fan of it. Early on in the book there's this part that says "NO MEN" and that's a noticeable theme all the way through. There are hardly any male characters at all and certainly not in any bigger roles. I found myself actually missing male characters, to be honest. I didn't mind the all-female cast, but it is now clear to me that it's not a setting I personally would want to stay in. I'd rather have more diversity. The audiobook was good, but the narrator sounded very American and that wasn't really suiting for such a pseudo-British story. The whole hoity-toity style of the fake-Victorian era and different dialects sounded like ... yeah, an American trying to do different British accents and not getting it quite right. Still a good narrator with lovely voice and storytelling, but not a perfect fit for the setting. Unsure if I'll try more of this author in the future. I guess I'll wait and see what she writes next.

  17. 4 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    it's a historical sapphic bodyguard romance? 😭🙏 Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram it's a historical sapphic bodyguard romance? 😭🙏 Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    {3.5 stars} “This wasn’t at all like her ordinary lackadaisical gallops with old friends or perfect strangers. This felt like being a page of old newspaper caught up in a sudden gust of wind.” ——————————— If you read the synopsis for The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry, you might think that it’s a simple sapphic love story with your typical protagonists from two different sides of the tracks. But it’s much more than that. It’s a crime caper with a love story at its heart complete with a bing bon {3.5 stars} “This wasn’t at all like her ordinary lackadaisical gallops with old friends or perfect strangers. This felt like being a page of old newspaper caught up in a sudden gust of wind.” ——————————— If you read the synopsis for The Ruthless Lady's Guide to Wizardry, you might think that it’s a simple sapphic love story with your typical protagonists from two different sides of the tracks. But it’s much more than that. It’s a crime caper with a love story at its heart complete with a bing bong-ing necromanced mouse skeleton leading the investigation. This mismatched group of magical ladies are brought together when they are charged with protecting a young woman who is about to get married. Delly is the star of our story; not much more than a grown-up street urchin running games to make money and hunting dark alleys to make sure her drug-addicted mother is still alive she finds herself suddenly in a world of privilege. As the story progresses we find that or she may not be the most sophisticated person, she is street savvy and exactly what is needed to properly protect the young bride. As their short stent in this project ends they find themselves embroiled in a much bigger criminal mystery and find themselves pulling together around a common cause. Our Delly finds herself drawn out from her life of moral ambiguity into a much more proper one. But will it take? The writing is unbelievablely clever, the world uses its own vernacular of hilarious terms for various things. That made the book extremely challenging to read. I am someone who can regularly power through for 500 pages in a day but I found myself working through this much more slowly. This was both because I wanted to better understand the world (the world building here is not as obvious as in some other novels, you need to put together a lot of the pieces for yourself) but also because I wanted to savor the words. The more closely you read each sentence the more you can appreciate the vision or laughter it evoked. The one thing that I didn’t love about the story, is that there was parts that seems to glorify drug use. You see the gritty bad side but there are several passages that talk about the elation and feelings of escape. This is classed as an adult novel, but I feel like should younger readers pick this up it was more than I was comfortable with. I will caveat the statement by saying I am a complete straight-edge so my opinion may be severe for the average person but I feel like it’s a warning I would have preferred to have tacked on somewhere. I also really struggled with Delly’s mommy issues, as they struck a little close to home, but I think that’s a sign of great writing, when it makes you uncomfortable. When trying to think of parallels to the story I’d say it’s Once and Future Witches with a dash of Things in Jars. Thanks to Netgalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Delly is "an ill-mannered, ill-tempered, money-hungry slattern with a decidedly potato-like aspect to her personal appearance" (but same, though). She constantly gets herself into trouble and then talks her way back out of it. Used to roughing it alone, she looks out for herself first and foremost with a canny eye for business opportunities. She joins a "merry band of female catastrophes" (bodyguards) for a high society lady facing death threats leading up to her wedding. Delly needs the money fo Delly is "an ill-mannered, ill-tempered, money-hungry slattern with a decidedly potato-like aspect to her personal appearance" (but same, though). She constantly gets herself into trouble and then talks her way back out of it. Used to roughing it alone, she looks out for herself first and foremost with a canny eye for business opportunities. She joins a "merry band of female catastrophes" (bodyguards) for a high society lady facing death threats leading up to her wedding. Delly needs the money for rent and to help get her mother treatment for a drug addiction. Not particularly keen on actually risking her life, she still manages to get sucked into the danger when only her skill as a fire witch can protect the crew from a necromancer's hideous creations. Her new position will test her in unexpected ways, especially when she catches sight of one of her fellow bodyguard, Winn. Winn's half-troll, a good shot, and a ray of fucking sunshine. Her wealth and disposition make her a particularly enticing target for a long con, but Delly's in danger of catching real feelings. There was so much I loved in this book. The laugh out loud humor first and foremost. Delly makes up words to fit every situation (a trait I empathize with). It's tricky to get used to at first, but it adds to the ridiculous atmosphere in all the right ways. Her flippant, scheming attitude is so rarely depicted in female characters, and she's the evidence for why that's a crying shame. The found family of odd but fantastic ladies was a delight, and their disturbing mascot left me cackling: a necromancer trapped in the body of a skeletal mouse. I highly recommend this as one of the rare humorous fantasies that actually hits the mark, an adorable WLW romance, and a silly romp following an honorable yet vaguely criminal band of misfits.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Josalynne Balajadia

    This book was much darker than the cover and title would have you believe. If you're looking for a light hearted sapphic fantasy this might not be for you. Although I wasn't expecting the heavy theme, I still really enjoyed it. This book follows a low class fire witch trying to secure a more stable, comfortable life. It explores a variety of morals on a variety of different topics. The characters aren't necessarily likeable (unless you like chaotic messes) but they are very relatable. The romanc This book was much darker than the cover and title would have you believe. If you're looking for a light hearted sapphic fantasy this might not be for you. Although I wasn't expecting the heavy theme, I still really enjoyed it. This book follows a low class fire witch trying to secure a more stable, comfortable life. It explores a variety of morals on a variety of different topics. The characters aren't necessarily likeable (unless you like chaotic messes) but they are very relatable. The romance reaches a reasonable place by the end and the glimpses of the fantasy world behind the story was intriguing. It is not for everyone, the language used in the book is crass and characters will interact in Thieves Cant (called Alleychat in the novel). I have read novels written in fake Victorian but this one tested my reading comprehension. Substance abuse is a big topic and you are introduced to characters who are abusers. Overall a solid read and makes me want to pick up the other book by Waggoner set in this world.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Shay | Books Are Magic Too

    WOAH, what a book! I read this title as part of the #BerkleyBuddyReads #BerkleyWritesStrongWomen group & what I love about joining book clubs is that SO often books you'd never pick up end up surprising you in the best way! As someone who avoids synopsis at all costs, this book had such spunky, whimsical characters it was easy to fall for it. Our reading group couldn't get over the unique writing style - it was almost like Dellaria & Winn had their own language, but it made the writing style as WOAH, what a book! I read this title as part of the #BerkleyBuddyReads #BerkleyWritesStrongWomen group & what I love about joining book clubs is that SO often books you'd never pick up end up surprising you in the best way! As someone who avoids synopsis at all costs, this book had such spunky, whimsical characters it was easy to fall for it. Our reading group couldn't get over the unique writing style - it was almost like Dellaria & Winn had their own language, but it made the writing style as colorful as the characters! One of the things I enjoyed MOST about this particular book was that so many of the characters were accepting - appearance, gender, sexuality - made no difference to them. Dellaria was by far one of the most entertaining characters I've ever read, and this book had a little bit of it ALL - magic, romance, historical fiction, any reader could enjoy this one! Thank you to Berkley Publishing + NetGalley for providing me a copy in exchange for my personal review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Daphne

    DNF at 27% This book was just different than what I expected in tone and in plot. I couldn't really connect to the main character very well, and the writing didn't click with me either. I think this just wasn't for me. DNF at 27% This book was just different than what I expected in tone and in plot. I couldn't really connect to the main character very well, and the writing didn't click with me either. I think this just wasn't for me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Full of foul language, cheeky/sassy comments, and witty humor - oh my goodness I loved this book! I was left laughing out loud and having gobs of fun with this. I am not sure if a more detailed grasp of the world (magic systems, etc) may have come from reading Waggoner's first novel set there as well, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment at all and I just rolled along with it. I felt the characters were well fleshed out and full of personality, and that made them endearing. For me, romance tends Full of foul language, cheeky/sassy comments, and witty humor - oh my goodness I loved this book! I was left laughing out loud and having gobs of fun with this. I am not sure if a more detailed grasp of the world (magic systems, etc) may have come from reading Waggoner's first novel set there as well, but that didn't diminish my enjoyment at all and I just rolled along with it. I felt the characters were well fleshed out and full of personality, and that made them endearing. For me, romance tends to be really hit or miss, but I thoroughly enjoyed it in this case. Definitely glad I pre-ordered this one 😊

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella

    Another queer female-centric story with "Lady's Guide" in the title? Smells like 5 stars to me. Another queer female-centric story with "Lady's Guide" in the title? Smells like 5 stars to me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    How can you not love a book that throws you into a whole new magical world, complete with a language and society of its own? Where “gull” means “girl,” a “gallop” refers to a satisfactory shag, a “bolt-for” is your residence, “thinkmeat” is your brain, and a “barnfucker” is … well, that’s self-explanatory. By Elgar, it’s a relefting good time, is what it is. This book is set in the same world as the author’s first book, Unnatural Magic, but it’s not a sequel. However, I would recommend starting How can you not love a book that throws you into a whole new magical world, complete with a language and society of its own? Where “gull” means “girl,” a “gallop” refers to a satisfactory shag, a “bolt-for” is your residence, “thinkmeat” is your brain, and a “barnfucker” is … well, that’s self-explanatory. By Elgar, it’s a relefting good time, is what it is. This book is set in the same world as the author’s first book, Unnatural Magic, but it’s not a sequel. However, I would recommend starting with the first book if possible, just because I felt like I missed out on some of the fantastic world-building. I was able to catch up quickly, though. This is a historical fantasy about a hard-drinking petty thief and talented fire witch, Dellaria. She’s down on her luck until she sees a want ad for a female bodyguard. She fast-talks her way into the high-paying job. Along with a team of other women of magical abilities, she’s meant to protect a rich young lady from mysterious assassins. However, soon she’s thrown into a scheme bigger than she ever imagined, up against a deadly and powerful magical foe. At its core, this is a story about a bunch of bad-ass women banding together to defeat a common enemy. It’s everything I wanted from The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires but didn’t get. There is also a tender sapphic love story that develops between Delly, who is gun-shy to say the least, and Winn, one of the other bodyguards. I absolutely adored Winn, who is part troll, and would love to see more of her in future books! Thank you to #NetGalley and Berkley for the advance review copy of the book! #TheRuthlessLadysGuidetoWizardry

  26. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    Unfortunately I decided to dnf this book at the 20% mark. This book didn't do anything inherently wrong, I just personally did not mesh with the writing style. I thought this book had a lot of important themes around social status and gender and had amazing casually queer representation. But despite the there being so much action in this first section, I felt like the pacing was odd and I didn't have time to get to know the characters. I'm more of a character driven reader and this was very plot Unfortunately I decided to dnf this book at the 20% mark. This book didn't do anything inherently wrong, I just personally did not mesh with the writing style. I thought this book had a lot of important themes around social status and gender and had amazing casually queer representation. But despite the there being so much action in this first section, I felt like the pacing was odd and I didn't have time to get to know the characters. I'm more of a character driven reader and this was very plot heavy from what I read. I was highly anticipating this book and am really sad that it just didn't work out for me. But I truly believe this is a more a fault of my personal preferences, than the book itself.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ayre

    This book was a really decent palette cleanser. There is nothing heavy or overly moving in it but it’s gray for a chuckle every once in a while. I can honestly say it made me laugh out loud a few times. This is a murder mystery set in a fictional equivalent to Victorian London. The made up street slang and the way characters talked annoyed me a little bit but that’s entirely personal preference. Overall it’s good but not great and I had fun reading it. I did receive an ARC of this for free from Ne This book was a really decent palette cleanser. There is nothing heavy or overly moving in it but it’s gray for a chuckle every once in a while. I can honestly say it made me laugh out loud a few times. This is a murder mystery set in a fictional equivalent to Victorian London. The made up street slang and the way characters talked annoyed me a little bit but that’s entirely personal preference. Overall it’s good but not great and I had fun reading it. I did receive an ARC of this for free from NetGalley but I’m not required to leave this review

  28. 4 out of 5

    Geonn Cannon

    I really, really enjoyed this book. It's fantastically written, I loved the characters, the plot was great. It was a fantasy full of its own vernacular and culture, but it was doled out in a way that it was no effort whatsoever to decipher what was meant using context. The only complaint is how annoying it is that one character frequently ends sentences with "What?", which got REAL old, REAL fast. But that's a minor quibble in an otherwise fantastic book. Hopefully it will be toned down in any s I really, really enjoyed this book. It's fantastically written, I loved the characters, the plot was great. It was a fantasy full of its own vernacular and culture, but it was doled out in a way that it was no effort whatsoever to decipher what was meant using context. The only complaint is how annoying it is that one character frequently ends sentences with "What?", which got REAL old, REAL fast. But that's a minor quibble in an otherwise fantastic book. Hopefully it will be toned down in any sequels. But even if it's not, I'll definitely be diving into it on release day.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Rating - 3.5. This book was so much fun! I didn't want to put it down. Adventure, mischief, some brilliant characters, a sprinkling of romance and a ghostly mouse who has a slight flatulence problem... what more could you want? Rating - 3.5. This book was so much fun! I didn't want to put it down. Adventure, mischief, some brilliant characters, a sprinkling of romance and a ghostly mouse who has a slight flatulence problem... what more could you want?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ashlee Bree

    When I first heard this was a historical sapphic bodyguard romance featuring petty thieves, highborn ladies, witches, and fire magic a'plenty, I thought to myself: what promise! what potential! must 'request now' immediately! Unfortunately for me, this one didn't quite live up to expectation. Its plot staled. Fell flat. It never found the high-flying, suspense-climbing, drip-induced kick a story about a group of mismatched women who combat dangerous magic and mysterious assassins needed. For a w When I first heard this was a historical sapphic bodyguard romance featuring petty thieves, highborn ladies, witches, and fire magic a'plenty, I thought to myself: what promise! what potential! must 'request now' immediately! Unfortunately for me, this one didn't quite live up to expectation. Its plot staled. Fell flat. It never found the high-flying, suspense-climbing, drip-induced kick a story about a group of mismatched women who combat dangerous magic and mysterious assassins needed. For a while it felt like nothing of consequence had happened. I also had difficulty finding footing in the world depicted here. In the historical context as well as in the magic. The confluence between the two sides was jagged, jarring at times--they didn't always mesh well. I liked the characters well enough, however. Dell, a gutterwitch with a habit of setting things on fire, had lived a tough life. She was a bit stubborn, crass, guarded. Drank in excess. Having bounced around in the grittier parts of town growing up, she simply wanted to earn enough money to pay her rent and send her mother (a drip addict) to a safe, quiet place in the country. After seeing a want ad for a magically endowed female bodyguard, she bullshitted her way into acquiring the position. That's where she met the other protectors: Absentia, Winn, Mrs. Totham etc. All of whom are either more educated than her in magic or are from different social classes. Together, they use their collective skills to find and destroy the threat. Delly and Winn's romance was cute, interesting given their disparity in social class, if a bit protracted. Their unresolved sexual tension got to be a little tiresome after a while. It dangled too long, which might have something more to do with the sluggishness of the plot than it did with them as a pairing. Perhaps others will find lots to love in this book, but for me it failed to entice overmuch. Thank you to NetGalley, Edelweiss, Berkley Publishing Group, and Ace for the ARC! BOOK BLOG

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