Keeper of Enchanted Rooms
by Charlie N. Holmberg
Published November 1, 2022
Content Warning: (As listed by Storygraph users) Murder, Body horror, Child abuse, Death, Violence, Torture, Physical abuse, Kidnapping, Death of parent, Stalking,Injury/Injury detail
Rhode Island, 1846. Estranged from his family, writer Merritt Fernsby is surprised when he inherits a remote estate in the Narragansett Bay. Though the property has been uninhabited for more than a century, Merritt is ready to call it home—until he realizes he has no choice. With its doors slamming shut and locking behind him, Whimbrel House is not about to let Merritt leave. Ever.
Hulda Larkin of the Boston Institute for the Keeping of Enchanted Rooms has been trained in taming such structures in order to preserve their historical and magical significance. She understands the dangers of bespelled homes given to tantrums. She advises that it’s in Merritt’s best interest to make Whimbrel House their ally. To do that, she’ll need to move in, too.
Prepared as she is with augury, a set of magic tools, and a new staff trained in the uncanny, Hulda’s work still proves unexpectedly difficult. She and Merritt grow closer as the investigation progresses, but the house’s secrets run deeper than they anticipated. And the sentient walls aren’t their only concern—something outside is coming for the enchantments of Whimbrel House, and it could be more dangerous than what rattles within.
This book came as a delightful surprise. It was also my introduction to the works of Charlie N. Holmberg, and her magical worlds. “But Arwen,” you say. “How could you have missed The Paper Magician series?” Well it’s on my Kindle, but I never had enough interest to read it.
I don’t know how I got my Kindle copy of the Keeper of Enchanted Rooms or why I picked it to read. The description isn’t the normal sword and sorcery fantasy fare I typically go for. I am so, so glad I picked it up though.
The magical world of the book is so well done. The idea of a finite amount of magic being diluted over the centuries as abilities are passed down the children is so interesting. This necessitates having to have a whole Genealogy Society for tracking everyone magical ancestry. It also creates interesting problems, like how does one go about getting more magic. On a whole it was a refreshing new take on a magic system.
As I read the book I was so engrossed in it that I forgot to make highlights. Which makes coming back to review it now a little more challenging. It also means I ENJOYED the book!
The character are all great. Even the villain, who is super awfully wicked, is so well written that their presence elevates the entire story. Merritt is an odd duck, and I love him. Hilda is perfectly straight laced and I enjoyed seeing Merritt embarrass her (both intentionally and non) and being to get under her guard.
Even the side characters like Beth, Baptiste and Mira are all well rounded characters who could probably headline books of their own.
The book manages to be both cozy and threatening, warm and exciting, friendly and deep.
I liked it enough to put the second book on preorder the instant I finished. A delightful, magical adventure not to be missed.
“I have to apologize.” She shook her head. “We can talk when we’re not in danger of homicide.” “My point, though. What if one of us dies down here, and I never get the chance?” - Keeper of Enchanted Rooms