Em is confused about a lot of things: who she is, what she wants, how she’s going to pass Alchemy when she’s awful at it. The one thing she’s not confused about is how much she wants to buy her best friend (and college roommate) the best birthday present ever. Luckily the local magic supply shop is hiring.
Her plan to get a job there would be working perfectly if not for her coworker Phineas who is in turns aggravating and endearingly awkward. She’s not sure if she wants to date him or wants to be him. The more time they spend together the more she thinks it may be both.
This is the first entry into the Ashveil Academy series. Emery does a wonderful job of giving you just long enough of a glimpse into the character’s normal day-to-day lives to get a feel for them (and begin to get attached). I’m definitely excited for more to come in this universe.
All of the characters in this story were wonderful and queer and I especially loved the main character, Em, and Phineas.
Em’s inner struggles really resonated deep with me. It was nice to read a character with similar feelings when it comes to gender as me. That feeling of looking in the mirror, of wondering, “Do I look like a girl? How would it feel if my body looked different, more masculine?” was deeply relatable for me, and I thought Emery did a wonderful job of putting Em’s thoughts to the page.
I also share Em’s touch aversion, though Em’s is milder than my own. I don’t think I’ve read any other books with a touch averse character, and even though it only came up a couple of times, it was wonderful to read a character that shares that with me.
As if that wasn’t enough, Em also has another inner struggle that resonated with me. Her best friend starts dating another girl in the story. Em has a minor bit of jealousy, mostly because she sees her friend so happy with another person, and her friend is spending so much time with her new girlfriend. It’s not really a major point and I won’t go into more detail, but I found it very relatable.
By the end of the book, I’ll admit I might’ve become a bit biased. But I really loved this story. That characters and the dialogue and everything was just spot on. It’s definitely one I’ll be coming back read again and again as a comfort read.
If you like things with magic that are slice of life with a new adult feel, I’d definitely recommend checking this out!
My rating: 5/5
Disclosures: I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I’m also friends with the author on Twitter.
Content warnings (provided by the author): Mentions of gender dysphoria, minor mentions of death (nonspecific)