Title-Towers and Tithes. Book 8 in the Magicorum series
Author- Christina Bauer
Genre- Fantasy Romance
Publisher- Monster House Books
Publication Date- 9 Nov 2021
Comments- I was given a free copy via Netgalley and Xpresso Books tours. I voluntarily offer a review and am in no way influenced by any mystical fairy story template.
Rapunzel Meets Jane Eyre in this fairy tale romance!
I’m a Tower Tithe with a Rapunzel problem. That’s not as weird as it sounds.
Ever wonder how Rapunzel survives without leaving her home? After all, someone must stock groceries, buy hair products and fix the plumbing. Witches don’t wield toilet brushes, so “Rapunzel care” becomes the job of Tower Tithes like me. Not that we choose this gig. We’re just unlucky elves who get magically chucked into servitude. Since our kind live for ages, being a Tower Tithe can drag on for thousands of years… and I’m seventeen. Yipes.
That said, it wouldn’t be too awful if I had a cool Rapunzel. No such luck.
I serve none other than Lady R, the social media sensation and sadist who lives in Manhattan’s famous Apex Towers. With the help of her manager—a witch named Jocasta—Lady R releases daily gossip videos while assigning me “torture chores.” Many tasks are designed to remind me how Lady R is the gorgeous variety of elf, while I’m beyond plain. I spend a lot of time scheming my escape. And dreaming about Dex, the hot prince who is Lady R’s promised happily ever after.
My name is Grayson Eyre, and this is my story.
Ok, first of all. I have no idea who wrote the synopsis for the book but that is NOT what happens in it.
This is what actually happens.
We’re introduced to Grayson Eyre who is an Osmos, half-elf and half-troll, who is captive in a house on stilts. She is being imprisoned by a Prism Master and kept away from everyone else for…reasons.
She does have a few friends who visit via magic mirror but otherwise, she is totally alone, waiting for the day when she is picked to be the personal assistant of a Rapunzel.
Dex is a werewolf shifter whose pack consists of 98 werewolf children and one assistant. He lives in the land of Wulfhelm which is contained and kept safe by powerful magic. This magic depends on the Alpha of the wolves finding his fated mate and bonding. However, this hasn’t happened in centuries and the magic is weakening.
In order to prevent an attack on his kingdom, Dex realises that he needs to make an alliance with the Prism Master. But the Prism Master wants him to wed Lady R- one of the most bloodthirsty and cruel of Rapunzels.
When Grayson manages to fall through a mirror into the Prism Master’s study and accidentally meets Dex, he realises that she is his fated mate- his Vita. But the Prism Master and Lady R have other plans.
They drag Grayson to earth and make her the slave of Lady R and it’s all Dex can do to throw a protective spell at her so that no harm befalls his Vita.
Now it’s up to Grayson and her wits, and Dex and his belief in their happy-ever-after, to save Grayson, uncover the Prism Master’s plan, and protect Wulfhelm from attack.
See? Very different.
In fact, we only spend a few chapters at Lady R’s earth home and we see very few of the torture tasks that Grayson supposedly undergoes.
The plot is very well done though. We have a great many things to get to grips with quite quickly, especially if you didn’t know that this was number 8 in a series.
Which I didn’t.
Thankfully it’s not that difficult to pick up on what’s happening and the blanks were filled in pretty quickly. I like that because it means that you don’t actually have to have read the preceding eight books in order to understand the world.
Faery lives alongside our own earth and there are layers of one on top of the other which you can go between if you have the magic or the know-how. Many earth items are found in faery and there are tutors which use the magic mirrors to help those to get up to speed with human technology and culture.
Every faerie person seems to be assigned a fairy tale template- such as the Rapunzel story, the Jonah and the Whale, the Aladdin and they all have their parts to play within that story, whether that is the Prince, the witch or even the ‘help’.
Grayson is part of the Rapunzel template and so her role in life is to be the servant/assistant to a Rapunzel in the tower and make sure she is fed, rested etc. Except she is assigned to Lady R who is a cruel serial killer who delights in offing her staff.
I really like Grayson. She is the perfect mix of insecure and brave. Grayson is determined to escape and make her own way, even though she doesn’t have much knowledge of the world around her. She also has a respectable fear of her Prism Master but will still sass back when she can. This makes her a really nice, well-rounded character who you can root for.
Dex, too, is a nice character. I love his playful protective side with his pups as well as the lengths he will go to to help Grayson, despite knowing what may happen.
I’m a little sceptical of a six-foot male suddenly transforming into a 12-foot tall wolf. The logistics of this kind of transformation make literally no sense to me. His fur grows from his skin and bones break and reform, but physically speaking, how can you fit something the potential size of an elephant into a skin of a regular man? I’m all for using magic as a get-out-of-jail-free card but this is pushing it too far. It honestly isn’t plausible.
Despite the transfiguration issues, I was getting on quite well with the story. I found it engaging and was willing to suspend a little disbelief.
But I only gave the book 3 stars on GoodReads because of the errors.
This book desperately needed an editor. The word ‘Prism Master’ was sometimes capitalised and sometimes not and there was no rhyme or reason as to why. Similarly, the MAGICWEB was sometimes written as one word and sometimes it was split into two.
I was thrown out of the story because sentences seemed to be missing words or were in a weird order that didn’t make sense.
Grayson also initially doesn’t know what an elevator is, yet she makes reference to cartoons and lasers. Dex’s clothes are often referred to as a Henley which is a very earth-like term and also very American. (I had to look up what a Henley was- basically a long-sleeved t-shirt.)
It was these mistakes that made the story go from a 4 star down to a 3 and I only carried on reading because of how enjoyable the plot and the characters were. If these details were taken care of it would easily have slipped into one of the better fairy tale retellings this year.
Since writing that last paragraph the author has reuploaded the book on Netgalley with corrections. After having another read-through those errors are now gone and the story flows beautifully. Those niggly things that annoyed me as a reader have been altered and the whole story feels so much better. I will be amending my review on Netgalley and Goodreads to show this.
I genuinely think that Towers and Tithes (despite the blurb not fitting with the actual story) deserves to be logged with the other gret retellings of teh year. It should be alongside Gilded, Gilt and The Wolf as a great example of how you can take something everyone knows about and twist it into an entirely new story for a new generation.
Towers and Tithes is a humorous, detailed fairy-tale with a modern twist and an engaging heroine which would delight readers.