Fantasy, Fiction, Loved-it, Steampunk, Women's

Rogue mages, steampunk spells and secrecy – Brother’s Ruin by Emma Newman What looks like a beginning to a truly captivating series

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★★★★✬  4.5 stars

This review has been due for a while, I’m sorry, Emma Newman! (haha…) But here we go. Brother’s Ruin was a book I’d been waiting to read like no tomorrow! I was sadly denied an advance copy, so I had to ultimately wait for the release (like all mere mortals… kidding!), but when I finally got my hands on it, it disappeared in a night and left me wanting for so much more!

So let’s make this review a fun list type!

Reasons to read Brother’s Ruin:

✬ Rogue mages would be a good reason.
✬ All technology in this world is run by magic!
✬ Rogue mages.
✬ A really cool, inquisitive, strong-willed but nice female main character.
✬ And she has ass-kicking magic skills.
✬ …did I happen to mention rogue mages at any point…?

I could go on and on and on, so let me just give you a blurb:

It’s 19th century Britain, but slightly different from our own, because every kind of mechanical instrument is run with the help of magic – especially the clocks.

More than that, you can’t just be a mage and run off with it. Mages are persecuted, taught, taken into government service and prohibited from marrying or doing anything else. As the society is pretty restrictive about what women can do with their lives, Charlotte’s sickly brother gets all the schooling while she secretly makes her own living, illustrating books. Until one fateful day when the Royal Society is notified that there might be a latent mage in their family…

We find the main character Charlotte in the mess of all this – fighting for the safety of her family, hiding her own nature and protecting her brother, trying to keep her old life, but tempted by the new (especially by that handsome cheeky devil, one of the mage teachers…). And it’s all in the middle of a magical mystery.

First of all, Charlotte is just such a lovely character. Not just because she’s powerful, magical and caring for her family – but also because she’s young and passionate, and in her passion, she fails to see when she lies to herself, can’t control her emotions, tries to hide them. But she doesn’t get to hide them from us! We get to see every little bit of how she is an unreliable narrator.

The story itself is quite thrilling and fast-paced. I am a gullible reader, so you will probably have it figured out by the middle, but I didn’t – I kept guessing at the path Charlotte will end up choosing, as it was all quite complicated for her. On one hand, she could become a legal mage, live a life of convenience and relative luxury, solve any financial problems her family might have and not be afraid of the Royal Society tracking her down. On the other, there’s some real serious shit going on in the Royal Society, and it just does not feel right. She would also not be able to marry her fiancee either, or keep pursuing a career in illustration. Who would want to get into all of that seriously suspicious stuff anyway?

You might like this if:

✬ You’ve always wanted to read a cross between Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I would say..?)
✬ You adore the idea of steampunk London
✬ You like a strong, if clueless, female mage
✬ You want to get into another fast-paced magic series
✬ You’ve loved at least a few Victorian books, but wanted something current and a little more lively

Emma Newman’s Industrial Magic series is really going to be a kicker, I feel, and I know I’ll be impatiently waiting for the next release, which is planned, alas, some unclear time in 2017 (okay, so I’m a little lazy to look around). I truly can’t recommend this one enough, this is entertainment at its best. All of my friends who liked Ben Aaronovitch’s PC Grant (Rivers of London) series will just have to stand my constant pestering about this series, I’m afraid!

Have you heard of Brother’s Ruin?
Have you read anything good that’s magic related lately?

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Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
Dragonfly @ Our Familiarium
4 years ago

wow look at that cover!!! LOVE IT!! I love anything steampunk BUT books [I know I know there is something very very wrong me] AND for some reason Mages books never interest me either 🙁
You make it sound so good I had to add it to GR [again, girl WTH!?]! Because I think you mentioned Rogue Mages [maybe? lol] and it does sound kinda cool. Anything “rogue” gets instant cool stats in my mind. And technology run by magic!

Laura Thomas
4 years ago

That was a FUN review! And now I want to read this book:)

Nathan (@reviewbarn)
4 years ago

I think my review copy timed out. Which is a shame, I think I need to track it down soon. Glad it worked for you.

Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight

I don’t normally read steampunk, but your list has got me intrigued! And the MC sounds like a really realistically imperfect kinda character!

Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

Love the look of the cover and this sounds like it has a lot going on! Fun!

Julie Wright
Julie Wright
4 years ago

I have just downloaded this onto my kindle!
I am glad that you enjoyed it, I shall look forward to getting to it!
Did you say it has Rogue mages in it?!!:P
The cover is what attracted me to invistigate this book, it is lovely 🙂

4 years ago

Rogue mages and the whole clock thing- cool! And I like the sound of steampunk London, definitely. I’ve read a few like that but can always use more! Glad this was a good one- I haven’t read Emma Newman but was curious about her Split Worlds series…


[…] week I’ve posted a review about rogue mages! It was a fun read, as well as a fun review to write. I’ve also posted a review for Get Well Soon, but not on the blog – on Goodreads, and you […]

Jackie B.
4 years ago

You sold me right here: ” You’ve always wanted to read a cross between Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I would say..?)” YES PLEASE. Let’s take some of my favorite things and smash them together. Victory! This does imply to me that Charlotte is going to kick some booty, which sounds fantastic. I hadn’t heard of this before you came along. I’m so glad that you read such a diverse collection of books from what I read. I’m finding so many new books to read– gosh, you are dangerous for my TBR. SO DANGEROUS. And I… Read more »

Di @ Book Reviews by Di

I’ve actually seen this one around – I think Danya over at Fine Print reviewed it? And it put it onto my TBR immediately although I did miss the NetGalley train with this one.

Rogue Mages definitely do it for me, so this book sounds PERFECT! Not to mention a cross between HP, Sherlock Holmes AND BUFFY???? Wow. PLus Steampunk. Yup, I need this.

Great review!


[…] incredibly little! But I absolutely have to talk about it. You might or you might not remember me fangirling about Brother’s Ruin back in spring, and after reading the long-awaited second part of it, I remain incredibly invested […]


[…] really hard for me to review this book because I’m evidently a fangirl. I reviewed the first part of this series when I was still but a wee blogger lass, and I do feel like maybe my review didn’t really do […]


[…] driven by magic – well, here you are. I have only ever seen this concept explored in the Industrial Magic series, and I have been a sucker for it since! That’s the coolest combo of science and magic […]