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…


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