Book Reviews

Book Review: The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry

The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry

By C.M. Waggoner

Published in 2021

371 pages

Dellaria Wells is a fire witch, and a talented one at that.  Granted, she has to avoid her landlady since she doesn’t have the rent, works cons for a living, has almost no formal wizardry education, and often misplaces her mother.  In a nutshell, Dellaria doesn’t have much going for her.  Until she’s hired as a bodyguard for an anonymous society lady who’s about to be married.  Not only will the pay enable her to avoid her landlady’s curse and maybe get her mother off the drip, but she’s also met a hot prospect that just might keep her in coin for a long while to come.

Of course, nothing with this job is simple and Dellaria finds herself hunting a murderer while launching a career as an illegal drug manufacturer.  But she has a plan, a group of lady wizards backing her up, and the possibility of romance.  What could possibly go wrong?

The title of this book caught my eye months ago and when I found myself in need of some “lighter” reading, I picked it up.  It took me a bit (maybe 20 pages) to settle into the story and vernacular but once I did, this book was delightful.  Dellaria’s voice is distinctive and memorable, and her character is beautifully flawed – but oh, so honest about it.  Actually, all of the characters were fleshed out to the point I’d pick up an off-shoot novel about any of them.

Although I read and review a lot of fantasy, I prefer low fantasy or magical realism to high fantasy.  If I stumble over pronouncing names or can’t make sense of the world, the book typically isn’t for me, since I prefer to stay somewhat grounded in reality.  I think this is why I didn’t connect to this book immediately – my brain was stuck on trying to figure out what “house holding” entailed and inserting the correct curse word for “relefting”.  I also spent a good bit of brain power trying to frame the time and place in terms I’m familiar with (London, late 19th century) before I decided it really didn’t matter.  After that, I was able to settle in and enjoy the clever prose and imaginative characters populating this world and blew through it in a day or two.  

The novel ends on a set-up for a sequel, which is great because I want to read more of this author’s work. 

I rated this book a solid four stars.

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

My rating system:

5 stars – Wow, I could not stop thinking about this book and/or I wish I’d writtn it.

4 stars – This was an awesome novel, I’d recommend it to friends.

3 stars – This was a good novel, I will look for more by this author.

2 stars – An okay novel, but I probably won’t look for anything else by the author.

We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings. … Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.

John Updike

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