Review: Rebel Magisters by Shanna Swendson

Review: Rebel Magisters by Shanna SwendsonRebel Magisters by Shanna Swendson
Series: Rebel Mechanics #2
Published by Author on July 12, 2016
Genres: Alternate History, Fantasy, Romance, Steampunk
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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Tea, Love ... and Revolution!

The Rebel Mechanics aren’t the only group plotting revolution against the magical British Empire. There are rebel magisters, as well, and Verity Newton and her magister employer, Lord Henry, know that the only way for the revolution to succeed is if both groups work together. A diplomatic mission seems like the perfect opportunity for them to meet with rebels in other colonies and gather support—right under the governor’s nose.

From drawing rooms, ballrooms, and the harbor in Boston to the streets of Charleston, Verity and Henry find themselves up against stubborn factions of both magisters and Mechanics and increasingly aware that they can only really count on each other as their relationship deepens. It may take a real crisis to unite the rebel movements and rally them to the cause—but could such a crisis also tear them apart?

Before I get into the whole reviewing business, I want to exhort you guys to give this series a try. I’ve been reading Shanna Swendson since I was a teen, and she excels at magical plots, romance, cuteness, and surprising levels of intensity (surprising because of how cute her books are). I reread Rebel Mechanics before launching into Rebel Magisters, and it was every bit as absurdly delightful as on my first read. Rebel Magisters may be a self-published sequel, but it loses absolutely no quality from its Macmillan days. The Rebel Mechanics series is a must read.

Swendson does such awesome plot things in Rebel Magisters. For those who don’t know, this series takes place in a steampunk, fantasy alternate history Colonial America. The short version is that the upper class, the Magisters, have magic and the poor folks don’t, leading to stringent rules about fraternizing between classes (basically, don’t) and changing your station (lol never). Most modern conveniences of the time are powered by magic and are far too expensive for poor people to use. Rebel mechanics (*gestures fiercely at book one and series title*) are working to develop technological solutions to what magic does for the wealthy. Tensions are increasingly anti-mother-England in the Colonies. This concludes your world building overview.

Our heroine Verity Newton rules. She’s such a queen, and I love her dearly. One thing I love a lot about Verity’s character is her evolution from the start of the series. Despite her vast and abnormal education (she basically got a Yale education as a wee child), she holds to the ideas of the day and had never done much questioning of the social order or government until she arrived in New York. She doesn’t go immediately from good girl to rebel leader. She slowly gets sucked in and won over to the cause.

Verity, however, also proves to be a natural leader. She doesn’t just join in with the rebel movement; she revolutionizes it (do not pardon the pun). See, she doesn’t love a lot of what the Mechanics were doing for their cause AND she knows that some Magisters can be awesome (*turns heart eyes of Lord Henry*). Basically, we all need to be Verity right now and become the change that we want to see in the world. She’s the sort of person who will step in and fight an injustice on the street and also who will become a reporter for an unsanctioned newspaper.

Some time has passed between the ending of Rebel Mechanics and the start of Rebel Magisters. Not a huge amount of time, but enough that Verity has made more friends and connections and built herself a network of lady spies. What’s completely boss about this book is how ladies are dominating left and right. The reason Verity and her network can do so much is that they are constantly overlooked. Also, I love love love that the rebel groups count several people of color in their members, including a black female scientist who makes a boss and super useful invention.

Swendson incorporates actual historical events into the plot of Rebel Magisters, while obviously putting a spin on them. The Boston Tea Party totally happens, only, you know, with magic and machines. The novel does have a bit less cohesion to the overall plot with Henry and Verity traveling around to foment revolution and find allies under the cover of a trip with the Governor, but it’s all very important time spent to help grow the movement. A lot of character introductions come quickly there, but this time will be very well spent in the end.

The scene stealer of the book’s totally Flora. I knew in the first book that there was no way that Flora would just be the grumpy, empty-headed, judgmental girl for the whole series, and indeed I was right. Flora and Colin’s instalove on one another, despite their prejudices against each other’s classes is so funny and adorable. I’m very much keen to watch this side ship develop. And oh man what I wouldn’t give for a novella from Flora’s point of view just sayinggggggg.

Okay I have been so good but now I have to talk about Lord Henry and Verity and their teammate perfection of trust and bashful adorableness. These two are so great for each other and so yearning and I just spent the whole book trying to smash their faces together despite physics and fictional status. This SHIP. They may not be that bantery but they are still just somehow such perfection and they need to be together forever and ever. View Spoiler »

Swendson’s built an amazing cast that I’m falling more and more in love with. I cannot WAIT for my secondary ships to sail. Anyone who trusts me at ALL needs to go buy/request from their library this series so that Swendson gets money and the world gets the gift of more Rebel Mechanics books. (FYI, while book three isn’t announced, I’m pretty positive she’ll self-pub these until she’s closed out the series because she self-pubbed several books in Enchanted, Inc. but this woman writes excellent ships so give her monies so she writes more ships!)

Favorite Quote:

“I say, you really are rather extraordinary for a governess. Have you considered banditry?”

“That’s not nearly exciting enough for me,” I said with a smile.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

2 responses to “Review: Rebel Magisters by Shanna Swendson”

  1. A network of lady spies!!!!! That sounds fantastic!! ANd I LOVE when authors keep actual events but put a spin on them. I adored Verity and Lord Henry in the first book, I need the shippiness in my life. If I didn’t already own the e-book, you would have convinced me to buy it 🙂

    • Christina Franke says:

      Yesssssssss, Verity and Henry continue to be THE CUTEST. This series is a delight, and I need book three. Please, Shanna!

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