Salt Magic, Skin Magic by Lee Welch
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 fairytale, 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?
CONTRIBUTOR(S): Joel Leslie (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Tantor Audio
LENGTH: 267 pages (9 hours 14 minutes)
GENRE: Fantasy, Historical, Romance
Queer Rep Summary: Gay/Achillean Main Character(s).
The opening hooked me immediately. I was intrigued instantly and wanted to see where things would go. The rest of the book did not disappoint. SALT MAGIC, SKIN MAGIC is a mysterious and sexy book where the man try to unravel why Lord Thornby is trapped on his father’s estate. I enjoy books which drop me right into the world and show the worldbuilding through the characters actions and conversations. This did a step further and placed me alongside Lord Thornby who doesn't have any reason to think magic or anything supernatural exists... except that he hasn't been able to leave when he desperately wants to be anywhere but here. John knows about magic, but the way he learned was tied up in issues of class and gate-keeping by the upper crust, which means that he has a mix of what he was told and what seems to be happening.
I enjoyed the relationship between the main characters. There's a bit of a rocky start and then they come to trust each other. The main issue I had with the narrative is that one of the characters is revealed late in the book to have a physical disability due to a childhood injury, then at the end it's cured as a side effect of other things happening. Magical cure narratives for disabilities are frustratingly common, and the instance here mars an otherwise very enjoyable story. I liked basically everything else, but unfortunately this keeps me from highly recommending it.
Graphic/Explicit CW for sexual content, confinement, torture.
Moderate CW for grief, homophobia, classism, alcohol, blood, emotional abuse, domestic abuse, physical abuse, violence, injury detail, parental death, death.
Minor CW for vomit, excrement, bullying, child abuse, neglect, forced institutionalization, murder.