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WesternSFA


Keeper of Enchanted Rooms
Whimbrel House #1
by Charlie N Holmberg
47North, $14.95, 347pp
Published: November 2022

A house of haunted history and ill temper. Make yourself at home in this beguiling novel of love, magic, and danger by Amazon Charts and Wall Street Journal bestselling author Charlie N. Holmberg.

Rhode Island, 1846. Estranged from his family, writer Merritt Fernsby is surprised when he inherits a remote estate in the Narragansett Bay. Though the property has been uninhabited for more than a century, Merritt is ready to call it home—until he realizes he has no choice. With its doors slamming shut and locking behind him, Whimbrel House is not about to let Merritt leave. Ever.

Hulda Larkin of the Boston Institute for the Keeping of Enchanted Rooms has been trained in taming such structures in order to preserve their historical and magical significance. She understands the dangers of bespelled homes given to tantrums. She advises that it’s in Merritt’s best interest to make Whimbrel House their ally. To do that, she’ll need to move in, too.

Prepared as she is with augury, a set of magic tools, and a new staff trained in the uncanny, Hulda’s work still proves unexpectedly difficult. She and Merritt grow closer as the investigation progresses, but the house’s secrets run deeper than they anticipated. And the sentient walls aren’t their only concern—something outside is coming for the enchantments of Whimbrel House, and it could be more dangerous than what rattles within.

Hulda Larkin goes to Whimbrel House to convince its new owner that the enchanted house needs to be preserved. It is a hard sell to begin with as the house, or maybe its ghost, have trapped Merritt inside, refusing to let him leave. As Hulda moves in as the housekeeper, she, Merritt and the two new staff members gradually learn the ways of the house and who is haunting it; and, as they learn, they also start to turn the house into a home and form ties that make them something of a family, something Merritt has longed for, for the last 18 years. But even as the house is tamed a new danger lurks that may rip them apart, if not kill them.

Ms Holmberg builds a very believable alternate world of the 1860s where magic is real, but fading and organizations exist to both preserve what magic remains as well as foster new generations with talent. Her characters are well-rounded, their feelings quite believable as both Hulda and Merritt are hesitant to reveal their growing feelings for each other due to past hurts. The action builds nicely - I read the book in one sitting - and the conclusion is very satisfying, though we are left with some unanswered questions about both Merritt and the future of BIKER. I assume those will be addressed in the next book in the series, Heir of Uncertain Magic, due out in April 2023. I can hardly wait.  Highly recommended ~~ Stephanie L Bannon

For more titles by Charlie N Holmberg click here

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