When I heard about a historical fantasy novel spanning Europe in the 14th century, I thought…I like history, I like magic, I like travel stories…so I’m in! And so I read The Conjurers by David Waid, which did feature magic and travels across medieval Europe.
The Conjurers tells the story of two sets of siblings. In Ireland, Caitlin and Eamon must flee raiders, a flight both helped and complicated by the sudden surge of Eamon’s magical abilities. In Genoa, Teresa’s brother Ignacio does not come home after a trip to the house of his master, an alchemist, and her search for him leads to deadly and devastating results. Magicians around Europe are gathering for a hideous rite, and Caitlin, Eamon and Teresa are all being drawn into events.
In many ways, this book is two stories that ultimately intersect, as we cut between Eamon and Teresa. Both are engaging stories, and there are similar thematic threads. Teresa, like Eamon, discovers burgeoning magical power. The plot threads take longer to come together, though it becomes evident that the villains each child is facing have connections to each other.
I enjoyed that both stories were about siblings, and in both cases a brother and a sister. Sister stories and brother stories are common enough, but I’m not sure I see cross-gender stories as often. I also liked the way gender plays in as Teresa has to overcome additional obstacles to take agency and action. The daughter of a Genovese nobleman, she’s definitely not supposed to be setting off on a cross-Europe journey.
I liked the magic and the characters and the setting of all this, as I expected to. I probably should have paid a little more attention to the subtitle, “A gritty fantasy of witches and wizards.” In this case, “gritty” appears to mean “bloody,” as it was, rather…more than I typically like to read, though for someone with a higher tolerance it would be fine! There was easily enough blood for a Tim Burton movie…and considering much of the story takes place in darkness and shadows, it really does have a little bit of a Burton a la Sleepy Hollow feel.
So watch out for the blood, but otherwise this was a good magical adventure.
Author’s Site: http://davidwaidauthor.com/
Buy it here: The Conjurers