Charms and Witches lives up to its title. It's truly one of the most charming books I've read in some time.
In a land where magic is real but somewhat rare, Cirie is a young charm maker eking out a living, struggling to pay down a debt incurred during her late master’s terminal illness. Though the grief and debt are a lot to carry, she manages to do so without bowing under the weight. Her somewhat monotonous existence becomes a lot more interesting when a traveling stranger named Lanton appears at the inn where Cirie lives and works. Immediately taken with one another, affection blooms over a board game and deepens over the revelations of Lanton’s secret mission. When the witch queen finds out what he is up to, it will take a remarkable love and determination to produce a happy ending. It is something of a romance within a romance, bright and diverting.
The author has created a fun and detailed world without resorting to dumps of exposition. The magic is described in a lovely yet unpretentious fashion. He has deftly drawn a cast of characters with whom you can't help wishing to spend more time, and for whom you can't help wishing for happiness. Even the money lender seems like an okay guy. Though the world is fantastical in its way, the characters behave like real people. There are no contrived conflicts between the romantic leads, which was a relief to me, as I am no fan of comedies of errors. It's also a bit of an achievement in this day and age to create an engrossing book containing no explicit sex or gory violence.
I loved this book, and I cannot recommended this author highly enough.