Thumbs up for The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C. M. Waggoner. Romantic fantasy.
Setting: sort of a gaslamp London-equivalent, but there’s magic, and same-sex marriages are ordinary. Delly, a guttersnipe firewitch, being in need of money to keep herself and her drug-addicted mother housed, applies for a job bodyguarding an upper-crust lady. Joining her are a handful of other female magic-users, including a strapping lass with good (marital) intentions. The necromantic mechanical spider assassins are perhaps to be expected, but the plot does take an interesting left turn when the ladies start magically manufacturing illegal drugs. (It sorta makes sense, I swear.) I loved this book firstly because of Delly herself (potty-mouthed, opinionated, and highly money-motivated), and her interplay with her cheerful, rich, love interest, Winn. But, even more than that, the joy of it is the narrative, which is creative and laugh-out-loud funny. If you’re bored of fantasy novels with bland prose, please read this book.
This useless exercise [getting dressed for an outing] continued for half an hour or so, after which all of the young ladies and lady-adjacent personages trundled down to the drive and clambered into one big open carriage and two contrivances that Winn and Miss Wexins referred to as dogcarts, despite the fact that the carts were pulled by horses and entirely unendoginated. Winn, to Delly’s great astonishment, positioned herself in the driver’s seat of one and gestured for Delly to sit beside her. “So you’re a coachman now as well, then?” Delly asked, once she’d managed to clamber atop the thing.
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