Mortal Follies

Del Rey. Jun. 2023. 416p. ISBN 9780593497562. pap. $18. LGBTQIA+ ROMANCE
Readers may be hard-pressed to decide if the latest from wildly popular Hall (A Lady for a Duke) is romance or fantasy. Set in 1814 in Bath, England, a site of worship, curses, and sacrifice, the story plays out on two planes. There is a romance, between the cursed Miss Maelys Mitchelmore and Lady Georgianna, who, it turns out, knows more than a bit about supernatural problems. When Georgianna sees Maelys hiding in a garden because her dress has magically unraveled, Georgianna steps in and tries to help. That leads to their budding push/pull relationship, against which is set a story of curses that fuels the plot and turns bloody and grim in places. Along the way, Hall, in fine form, crafts two secondary characters who help Maelys and add some needed joy. Robin Goodfellow (known to many as Shakespeare’s Puck), narrates the novel, remarking on his role and the story throughout. Some may find the romance a bit underdeveloped. Others, perhaps those reading it as fantasy, will appreciate the clever storytelling, the detailed curses, and the multiple magical beings who put a thumb on the scale.
VERDICT Stock up for Hall’s many fans.
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