...a masterful debut about a magical Edwardian-esque world still reeling from a deadly world war ... Her talents at worldbuilding are equally as impressive. Aeland and its inhabitants felt real. The magic is well-explained and interestingly explored, as is the social hierarchy ... But what pushes Witchmark from very good to great are the deep undercurrents. This isn’t just a story about cool magic and those who abuse it. Under the surface is a painful discussion of slavery, exploitation, and colonialism ... If Tor.com had a rating system, I’d give Witchmark 10 out of 5 stars.
Polk’s new series takes inspiration from Edwardian London, the threat and tragedies of the First World War, and weaves in entrancing and clever fantasy elements that make the world of this new series feel rich and familiar, yet wholly unique ... The alliances he forges, and the love he finds as a result, are indispensable and make the heart-rending climax of this book one worth remembering.
...a startlingly beautiful fantasy debut that is both magical conspiracy thriller and supernatural love story ... Polk’s reticence serves her well in Witchmark’s central love story ... Polk’s prose is never more beautiful or soothing when describing Tristan and his surroundings ... The increasing darkness of Witchmark is beautifully modulated by Polk, who slowly dims the initial vibrancy of her book, funneling the reader closer to a chilling, utterly fantastic final reveal.
Many disparate elements are expertly woven together to make this debut a crackler, with layers like a nesting doll and just as delightful to discover ... all wrapped up in the feeling of a historical mystery that fans of Maisie Dobbs and other WWI-era novels will dive into. Polk has created an amazing new world with hints of Edwardian glamour, sizzling secrets, and forbidden love that crescendos to a cinematic finish. Witchmark is a can’t-miss debut that will enchant readers.
Polk’s stellar debut, set in an alternate early 20th century in an England-like land recovering from a WWI-like war, blends taut mystery, exciting political intrigue, and inventive fantasy ... Polk unfolds her mythology naturally, sufficiently explaining the class-based magical system and political machinations without getting bogged down. The final revelations are impossible to see coming and prove that Polk is a writer to watch for fans of clever, surprising period fantasy.