Review: Philippa Ballantine's Magic by Gaslight

Recently I find myself indulging into short fiction by my favourite married couple of authors: Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. After feasting my eyes and imagination on Tee’s Steampunk take on Arabian Nights, I now had the pleasure of some Gaslight Fantasy by Pip.

Cover of Magic by Gaslight At first, I was not too impressed with Magic by Gaslight. The story is set in an alternate version of England where magic is very real and there is a constant, deadly war going on between witches (all female) and mages (all male). Magic by Gaslightis told through the eyes of a young witch, Lucinda and the reader at first only gets the witches‘ version of the war and its reasons. This all seemed too much like uninformed, without-a-cause feminist Wicca to me. I am heathen myself and I have met a few self-declared witches who had a very simple maxim: If it’s male, it’s evil.

Anyway, this first bad impression quickly dissipated. And now I have to be careful not to spoil anything. Lucinda goes to meet somebody in the hopes of having an amorous adventure and gets more than she has bargained for. A lot more. The story takes a drastic turn for the better and the reason behind the witches‘ attitude is explained.

Pip Ballantine’s Magic by Gaslight is a nice, short gaslight fairytale, easily read in an evening or during one good soak in the tub. It offers mystery, magic, love, and an interesting look at the side-effects, when two magic-users… oh-oh! Spoiler alert! Pick it up. Do it! You know you want to!

Final note: The cliché/trope of male magic being somewhat technology related while the female part of magic is all about nature and being in tune with your body is also used here. I wonder where and when that one got started…

Anyway:

 10 out of 10 Zeppelins (Yes, the bad start makes absolute sense in the greater context of the novella, so no deductions for it).