Brother's Ruin

Brother's Ruin - Emma Newman 4 stars

May Contain Spoilers

I love these Tor novellas. There are times when I'm in the mood for a shorter read, because of time constraints or frame of mind, but I still want something that feels meaty. These novellas hit the spot every time. Brother's Ruin is a magical steampunk adventure with a feisty heroine who puts herself in harm's way again and again to save her family.

Charlotte is living a lie. She's secretly earning a wage as an illustrator, and her latest commission is a sensational hit. Her deeper, darker secret is that she's a mage, and she's been keeping her abilities a secret from everyone but her sickly brother. That's against the law. When her father is convinced that Benjamin is gifted in the magical arts and contacts the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts so he can be tested, Charlotte is frantic with worry. When it's learned that her father made a false report, he'll be imprisoned. In order to keep him safe, Charlotte determines that she must interfere with Ben's tests and make it look like he's much more powerful than he really is. She'll have to do this with utmost caution, because she doesn't want to be imprisoned for keeping her own magic a secret.

Now, Charlotte's father might be a nice guy and all, but he certainly isn't a smart one. After getting into a financial pickle, he takes out a loan from an unsavory lending company. When he can't pay back the loan, the debt collectors are knocking on the family's door. Good thing for her father that Charlotte intercepts the final demand letter and takes matters into her own hands, revealing an operation responsible for the deaths of more than a few of their customers.

Brother's Ruin very nicely sets up an interesting world where Charlotte will have the opportunity to have many more adventures. With her new mentor, she is guaranteed to get into trouble time and again. Whether or not her dreams of a happy, if uneventful, life married to the boring, earnest George becomes a reality is yet to be seen. I'm really looking for to spending more time with Charlotte and Hopkins. Despite the short length, this story was packed with intrigue, danger, and very tense situations Charlotte has to use both her brains and her magic, to emerge from unscathed. There is some nice world building, and I am want to learn more about the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. These guys don't seem to be on the up and up.