Erryn reviews ‘Salt Magic, Skin Magic’ by Lee Welsh. This book was released by the author on August 9, 2018, and is 217 pgs long. The audiobook version of this story was narrated by Joel Leslie and produced by Tantor Audio. It was released on February 12, 2019, and is 9 hrs and 14 mins long. A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: I am a huge Joel Leslie fan and a good friend recommended the book.
Lord Thornby has been trapped on his father’s isolated Yorkshire estate for a year. There are no bars or chains; he simply can’t leave. His sanity is starting to fray.
When industrial magician John Blake arrives to investigate a case of witchcraft, he finds the peculiar, arrogant Thornby as alarming as he is attractive. John soon finds himself caught up in a dark fairy tale, where all the rules of magic – and love – are changed.
To set Thornby free, both men must face life – changing truths – and John must accept that the brave, witty man who’s winning his heart may also be about to break it. Can they escape a web of magic that’s as perilous as love?
I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book. I knew Joel Leslie was the narrator and a friend recommended the book. I never thought to ask her why she loved it so much, but in the end that didn’t matter because I came to love it as well.
I often enjoy going in blind to a book and letting the story unfold without any expectations. This was a choice that worked for this book. I’m not sure I would have selected a fantasy novel set in Victorian England, but I was very glad I did. This book is the textbook definition of magical realism and that was just the perfect book for me to listen to.
Lord Thornby is trapped on his father’s estate. He leaves notes for himself reminding him to flee. He tries over and over again to get beyond the borders, but something always drags him back. It isn’t just a matter of lack of free will. He is bound to the estate and escape is impossible. What he can’t figure out is why this is his reality and how to change his misfortune. Thornby’s dilemma is clear.
John Blake’s role in the story is less defined. He visits the estate under false pretenses, planning to search out the magic at use. He is an industrial magician, far more comfortable conversing with furniture than casting spells on people. With Thornby, he encounters some of the strongest magic he’s ever come across and soon he finds himself drawn to Thornby – not just because of the man’s good looks, but also the wounded heart. He doesn’t understand the spell cast upon Thornby, but he makes it his mission to end it.
I’ve never believed in magic or fairy tales, yet I found myself drawn deeply into this story. I could envision the oddly logical John talking to objects as well as I could see Thornby despairing of ever breaking free and returning to his debaucheries and wicked lifestyle in London. He is a man who enjoys painting nudes to scandalize society, all the while enjoying the pleasures of the flesh with numerous men in London. He’s been on a long dry spell, but he doesn’t just jump into bed with John because he’s the first gay man he’s encountered. There is something between the men – magic of another kind, if you will. Needless to say, when they got together, I was very happy.
The story took a number of odd twists and turns, delightfully unexpected and wonderous to discover. When the reason behind Thornby’s dilemma was finally revealed, I was surprised. With everything that had happened, it was something I could never have predicted and yet it made complete sense.
Despite everything the men got their happy ending which, in turn, made me content.
What can I say about Joel Leslie’s performance? Again, another pitch-perfect performance. His British accents are superb, but there was an added layer to this performance. The book was about magic and so was his narration. I enjoyed the book and I hope to read more by this author, especially if they are narrated by Joel.
10/10 Pots of Gold (100% Recommended) – Compares to 5/5 Stars
Lee Welch lives in a house on a hill in the windiest city in the world – Wellington, New Zealand. She shares the house with her partner, two kids and two cats. Hedgehogs visit occasionally, which makes her happy.
Lee wrote her first novel (an unpublished pastiche of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) when she was seven and has been writing on-and-off ever since.
She studied ancient history at Auckland University and creative writing at Birkbeck, University of London.
To pay the bills, she works as an editor and business communications adviser for a large government department. By night, she writes escapist fantasies, mostly m/m romances, usually with magic in them. She likes crumbling mansions, cavernous libraries, mysterious curses and handsome magicians.
When she’s not writing, she reads, especially fantasy, history, romance, biography, folklore, comics, and children’s books. Her favourite authors include Ursula Le Guin, Peter Ackroyd and KJ Charles.