Charlotte Gunn has great talent. Yes, as an illustrator, which is how she makes a secret living. But also as a mage. And while neither is something she wants revealed to even those closest to her, the latter of the two secrets is the one that's most dangerous.
It's 1850 and anyone with a whiff of magic in their blood is required to report to the Royal Society of the Esoteric Arts. Not only is magic supposed to be used for the betterment of society, rumor has it that a mage without training can turn wild, becoming a danger to themselves and everyone around them. But members of the Royal Society aren't allowed to marry or have careers outside of the Royal Society. If Charlotte were discovered she would lose her fiance and her living.
But it's not Charlotte the Royal Society comes for in the end. It's her brother. And it's his wish, as well as her father's, that he'll test high enough to save their father from debtor's prison. Only Charlotte knows that the debt collectors her father owes have a fate much worse than that in mind.
Brother's Ruin marks the first in Newman's latest series. It's a fun novella and a good introduction to Charlotte and her world, though in this case I actually wish we'd had a full first novel to tear into.
While there's a decent bit of world building and character development for Charlotte as well as those around her, Brother's Ruin never loses the feel of being a prequel or prologue to a longer tale.
It is a fun start to the series, certainly. And, as intended, it left me wanting more. That said, I think I would have been happier with it's follow up in hand for immediate gratification!