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The Glamourist by Luanne G. Smith

The Glamourist by Luanne G. Smith
Book Name: The Glamourist
Author: Luanne G. Smith
Publisher(s): 47North
Formatt: Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Historical Fantasy
Release Date: June 9, 2020

The Last Jedi in Paris.

Figuring the audience for a fantasy sequel is smaller than that of a book one, I haven’t written a review of one for Fantasy-Faction in quite a long while. However, The Glamourist, Luanne G. Smith’s follow-up to her amazing debut, The Vine Witch, had me so engrossed, it deserved more than a passing mention on my Facebook page.

As I said in the original review, The Vine Witch is not the type of story that would usually draw my interest. However, Smith’s creativity and wordsmithing ensorcelled me from the first page, drawing me deeper into the tale with her evocative description of French Wine Country. With such a high bar set, I wondered if The Glamourist could do the same.

Much to my surprise, the sequel takes place in Paris, the City of Lights. There, modern innovations have taken firm root in the culture instead of being a fanciful new oddity in book one; the general populace has a fetish for the idea of magic, while never realizing real witches live among them. As such, the style of writing shifts: while I described the prose as decadent and evocative when Elena is rediscovering her connection to pastoral vineyards in The Vine Witch, it captures her trepidation and uncertainty of an urban setting in transition in The Glamourist.

There is a frenetic, urgent undertone that follows an intricate plot with one heck of a twist. While Elena might have been the star of the show in book one, a minor character shares center stage in the sequel. Yvette, an untrained witch, helped Elena in a sticky situation. Now she finds herself in Paris because of a quirk in Djinn wish magic. Much of the story is the orphaned and magically inexperienced Yvette trying to unravel her past, discover her mysterious parentage, and grow in her own magic, all the while trying to avoid re-capture and certain execution for a murder she committed on her sixteenth birthday.

In this, Elena plays a vital role, yet has a choice to make. Tn this world, witches are governed by a bureaucracy with set rules and regulations. Though Elena is registered as a Vine Witch, her parents were Venefica—potion and poison makers. By Witches’ rules, she can’t be both. After all, who could trust a wine maker who was also a poisoner? And apparently, one defaults to their parents’ registration. This, of course, is arbitrary; if Elena helps re-capture Yvette, she can be reinstated as a Vine Witch.

Will she? Despite their many differences, they are kindred spirits in that neither knew their parents, and yet are learning that in the battle between nature and nurture, a witch can’t escape her nature. There’s a scene where Elena sees ingredients for poison and is immediately drawn to it; it reminded me of The Last Jedi, where Luke proclaims Rey went straight to the Dark.

By the end of the book, we do learn who Yvette’s parents are. And unlike the clunky WTF reveal of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, this mystery has been subtly yet brilliantly seeded all along the way.

Elena and Yvette are joined by a cast of memorable characters (my favorite being a cat), both helpful and harmful. I would say it is a soft magic system, which leaves room for Smith’s vivid imagination to flourish.

Given The Glamourist’s bingeable storyline, vivid characters, boundless creativity, and intricate wordsmithing, I rate it a 9.5 out of 10.


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