Written by Colleen Cowley⎮ Narrated by Leanne Woodward

Author: Colleen Cowley
Narrator: Leanne Woodward
Length: 11 hour 57 minutes
Series: Clandestine Magic Series, Book 1
Publisher: Slender Sky Books
Released: Jun. 23, 2021
Genre: Romantic Fantasy

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Sophia Rose's Review

5 Stars

This audiobook was provided by its author, Colleen Cowley, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thanks, Colleen!

Subversive takes the reader into a curious and fascinating magical world. It's not a place that is pretty and clean just because there is magic, but flawed because there are humans. Nonetheless, it pulls one in with Beatrix's vibrant personality, Peter surrounded by mystery, and the pair of them carrying secrets and plans of their own while stuck together in an antagonistic relationship by the force of magic.

I enjoyed how the author revealed this curious world as she went without huge info dumps so that the plot, the characters, the relationships, and the settings were not drowned in details. And, it would have been easy to do with all that needed to be explained and set up to show how the world around the characters worked. Instead, there was a good balance of forward action and explanation, character and relationship development. It also did a good job of setting up for a grander story that would continue beyond Subversive into further installments.

I liked both Beatrix and Peter. He does something harsh right at the beginning and it sets the tone for the rest of their story. They have a complicated relationship that spans the spectrum of feeling from hate to love. By the end, when she knew all, Beatrix still couldn't forgive or forget. I thought this was harsh since she found herself doing the same thing to someone else and for a similar reason. But, she has baggage. They both do. Subversive is only the introduction to their story and there is more to come. I will be curious to see where Beatrix's impulsive, stubborn decision not to listen to Peter's cautions in the end will take things.

As to the suspense and action side of the plot, it was riveting. There was fabulous rising and falling action throughout the story whether it was government agents trying to sniff out Peter's secrets or a saboteur trying to set up the women's league to fail and even get lethal to make them stop. It was exciting to see how the magic was used as weapon, defense, and investigation, but also daily life help. It got exciting several times in the book and I have a feeling that now that Beatrix is ready to take what she knows and go on the offensive that the action will just get more intense.

Leanne Woodward is a first-time narrator for me, but I was able to easily slip into the story and appreciate her way of voicing the characters and the storyline. A couple of the younger women voices were not as distinct from each other, but I still had no trouble knowing who was doing the talking. In truth, this is a re-read for me and an already amazing story was even more magical for me getting it in audio. I definitely want to listen to the whole series as told by Ms Woodward. The production was impeccable as well.

So, there is an enemies to lovers attraction, plots from a few directions, friendships, and secrets revealed and the book leaves things at a 'to be continued' spot. I was enchanted by this alternate history magic-laden word, the characters, and the action. I can definitely recommend it to those who enjoy suffragette-style stories, magic and suspense, and a long, slow build story stretching over several books.

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