This epic fantasy set in Regency England combines an Austenesque comedy of manners with Tolkien-style magical spells and fairytale characters. Aspects of racism, sexism and colonialism are also thrown into the brew, but if its escapism you’re after, you won’t get much more of an alternative reality than this.
'I knew that you would understand the secret that I have been forced to conceal for these many years,' she continued, infusing her voice with a passionate intensity. 'For you must know, sir, that I long to study thaumaturgy! All my life I have dreamt of nothing else. I had scarce means enough to attain my dream, but I learnt what little I could from our ill-stocked library and untrained mistresses. I was happy in picking up scraps and rag-ends of wisdom. But that is all at an end. Even what little opportunity I had of acquiring magical learning is beyond me now – unless you, sir, condescend to help me!'