Review: Whitley: Witchmark

Book Cover
title: Witchmark
author: C. L. Polk
pages: 272
format: Paperback
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 4/5

In an original world reminiscent of Edwardian England in the shadow of a World War, cabals of noble families use their unique magical gifts to control the fates of nations, while one young man seeks only to live a life of his own.

Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family's interest or to be committed to a witches' asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans' hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.

When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.

A murder mystery set in a post-world-war pseudo-England, this book was engaging and deft and juggling a lot of different themes and plots. There were so many subplots going on, and yet I never lost the thread of the plot in the least, and everything was tightly plotted and excellent and keeping the reader consistently engaged throughout it all.
I loved Miles as a character, but specifically as a PTSD veteran doing his utmost to help his fellow soldiers. He had really beautiful soft side that I absolutely adored, this kind of...stubborn softness, almost. He was so determined to do the right things, and those things were usually being comforting and kind and gracious to his patients. His fraught relationship with his family was less soft, but every bit as stubborn, and it rounded out his character in a marvelous way.
His family I rather hated, though, especially Grace who was supposed to be more of a morally-gray type. I'm not sure if I was just reading too much into it, but I kept waiting for a twist that never came because a lot of her actions read as deeply wrong to me, and the reveal that there's no reveal soured me on her whole...everything.
The only problem I had with the plot was the romance. The romance because there wasn't enough of it! Our two leads were both great characters in their own right, and they worked well together and had chemistry and a really soft, sweet attraction to each other. But the romance didn't seem to be a focus for the book, due to all the murder investigating going on, and the leads actually didn't spend much of the book together. By the end, while they had a lot of potential, I just didn't feel like they'd gone anywhere with it and then *boom* proposal. I was really taken aback by that.

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