Arcana feels very much like a bodice ripper with a side magical element that is more of a deus ex machina than something organic to the world or plot. The characters are lacking nuance or originality – the evil are evil, the good are perfect, and there is no mystery whatsoever. For me, it was a light and fluffy twinkie of a book – entertaining but not very filling.
Story: Katherine “Wren” and her brother know that their mother was from a different world – more of a Faerie one. Since they are half of that world (a human father), they retain the ability to do a certain kind of magic using ‘arcana’ – the power of the sun. Wren travels to London to get her season in Edwardian society and is escorted by the handsome and wealthy Lord Thornwood. But a nefarious Lord has her in his sights to steal her power by forcing her to marry him. Wren will learn more about her mother’s heritage and her own self as she falls madly in love with Lord Thornwood.
I ran into trouble with the book when Wren and Lord Thornwood are doing heavy petting about halfway through the story while at his mansion. It felt very inappropriate that her father had asked her to be shown around London by someone with a reputation as a rake and woman seducer – and then she walks around his mansion, alone, and has his hands down her dress. No one seems to think he’d like another mistress, perhaps?
Because the book doesn’t really follow Edwardian British conventions for me, it felt very contrived. The magic, as well, seems to only be there as a foil and not an intrinsic part of Wren’s makeup. Despite the shunning and being made a pariah if society knew she had it, she doesn’t seem to concerned with Lord Thornwood not liking that aspect of her and readily kisses him at every opportunity. As well, I find it hard to believe no one would want to capitalize on that magic other than a ‘secret society’.
So, unfortunately, little gelled for me with the book. Thornwood was too perfect, the romance too much about sex, and every hint is dropped with the force of a mac track – there is no subtlety at all.
Reviewed from an ARC.