About Me

My photo
Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Witchmark by C.L. Polk

Witchmark by C.L. Polk - Dr. Miles Singer is upset. He is to discharge wounded soldiers before full recovery because more wounded must be admitted. While the war is over, Laneer has surrendered to Aeland, not all the casualties have reached home.

Suddenly a desperately ill man is brought to his hospital in Kingston by Mr. Hunter. The sick man, Nick Elliot, says his tea was poisoned. He implores Singer, referring to him as the “Starred One” and Sir Christopher, to find his murderer.

As Elliot grabs Singer’s arm:

A crackling line of static rushed over me. Tendrils of green light shot
from his fingers and twined up my arm. I fought his grip, but the vines
held fast, stretching from his grasping fingers.

They are linked together. Elliot was a witch. Singer is worried it will become known a witch, with his power, touched the doctor who is also a witch.

Mr. Hunter wants to know why the magic is dying and Singer is the only witch Hunter knows in Aeland.

Nearby a beautiful woman stops before a burning home and performs magic summoning rain from the clouds. She does it unobtrusively. Everyone thinks it is luck that has saved the home.

An elite group of witches evocatively called Storm Singers can control the weather. They expend enormous effort to create good weather for Aeland.

At a benefit for the hospital Miles meets his sister, Grace. She has not seen him since he left home 13 years ago to join the army to become a doctor. She thought he was dead. She is one of the Storm Singers.

Grace tells him he has a new witchmark:

A witchmark. You’ve always had the pink one, but the new one’s green. Just there, and there.” Her fingers hovered over my head: one near my temple, the other at the back of my head. “You can’t see auras without touching someone, still.”

His absence had adversely affected the magical powers of their prominent family. Miles remains unwilling to return to aristocratic life and lose his independence.

Miles and Mr. Hunter pursue the investigation. When Elliot’s body is removed from the morgue before an autopsy can be done they know that there is evil afoot in Aeland.

Mr. Hunter reveals himself as one of the Amaranthines, legendary witches of great power thought to have “left the world to guard the dead”. His powers include the ability to render himself and someone standing next to him invisible.

Miles has the magic to achieve healing. He can see inside the bodies of peoples. Once diagnosed his magic can heal. With the aid of Mr. Hunter he knits together his own broken wrist.

A pair of gifted witches solving a mystery is a unique reading experience for me. Witchmark is set in a fantasy world on our earth at an unnamed time but corresponding to the period of the 1910’s. Much of their world is our world though there are additions such as aether which flows through copper wires to provide power.

As inevitable in a fantasy world the author’s details of the residents of this alternative world become as interesting, if not more, than the actual plot. The ending drifts far into fantasy and the resolution of the mystery features magic. It was interesting and I was glad I read the book but I doubt I will read another book of the witches of Aeland and beyond.


  1. I'm not usually one to read a lot of fantasy novels, Bill. But this one sounds as though it's got some very interesting characters. I can see how it held your interest throughout. Hmm.....a mix of fantasy and mystery - that in itself is interesting.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. It is impossible to suspend disbelief when magic is real and at the heart of the story.

  3. That was unexpected! Good for you, trying out some different styles of fiction. A crime story set in a fantasy world is a really novel idea to me. I would only read something like this if there were a very very strong recommendation from someone like yourself, and I don't think you are giving it quite that.

  4. Moira: Thanks for the comment. I enjoyed my foray in fantasy but not enough to read another if there is a series.

  5. Very interesting that you read a fantasy / mystery, Bill. I have enjoyed some cross genre novels like that but this one might be too heavy in magic for me. On the other hand, it is by a Canadian author and is getting a lot of praise, so maybe I will try it.

    1. TracyK: Thanks for the comment. I had forgotten your interest in fantasy. The presence of magic gets stronger and stronger through the book. I would be interested in your thoughts if you should read the book.

  6. I appreciate your enthusiasm, though the article had one or two flawed moments in the description. I would run it through grammarly, Texterly, or Typely dot com once more. What I really liked is an article without the Wicca pestering in it. To me the first one in 25 years.

    1. Andre: Thanks for the comment. I have never used online checking of my prose. At this stage of my life I will live with the flaws that may cause in my posts. I do not know enough about Wicca to make any remarks.