by C.M. Waggoner
The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry by C.M. Waggoner is packed with adventure, magic, intrigue, and humor. I enjoyed it. The audiobook is narrated by Ava Lucas, who brings the characters to life – especially Ms. Dellaria Wells. I highly recommend it!
The chapter titles are exceptionally clever. This, for example, is the title of chapter one:
“Wherein Dellaria Hunts About for a Wayward Relation, Is Not the Recipient of Maternal Warmth, and Is Presented with an Opportunity for Gainful Employment”
Dellaria Wells is a gutter witch doing anything she can to pay her rent and keep her mother out of trouble. She can put on fine airs and wheedle out of (or in to) most anything and manages to talk herself out of jail and in to an actual bodyguarding position at the same time by using her magic to set her own skirts on fire. Unfortunately, the job is not the cushy one she’d expected, and there’s a brutal murder. Chaos ensues, as does the lure of even more money and a chance at financial freedom for both Delly and her mother. There’s also the risk of death and imprisonment, along with heartache and prison.
I wasn’t quite sure what to think of this book to begin with. It has a very unusual point-of-view. Dellaria Wells is what I’d call an uneducated poor girl who has studied very hard to appear educated and rich. This gives her a very prim-sounding dialogue… until she becomes upset. Then the colorful language pops up. In both cases, she throws in a few imaginary words that sound impressive but are not in any dictionary. When called out on this fact, she ignores the jabs. It’s all quite hilarious.
Another benefit of this main character is that she’s highly unreliable. She’s a liar, a drunk, a lock-pick, and certain to set herself or others on fire if startled. She’s always one step away from ending up homeless or in jail. Yet her main motivation throughout the book is to rescue her mother from drug addition and homelessness, with the goal of one day having enough money to send her off to a country home to live out her days in comfort. She’s a compelling character with depth, and watching her grow throughout the book is heartwarming.
The Ruthless Lady’s Guide to Wizardry cover art and design by Jess Cruickshank.
Book design by Alison Cnockaert. Interior art: vintage frame by Ozz Design/Shutterstock