MORE gay Victorian (well, Gaslamp) magicians, will it ever stop? This one at least doesn’t follow the cookie-cutter for the genre: no nobility, and magic is well-known and accepted, so there’s an actual industry and civil services. Magic has actual rules, and a lot of it seems to be grammar-based, and people can, for example, take educated guesses about a magician’s schooling (Oxford vs Cambridge styles) – but only guesses, not enough to be actually important clues, which I thought was a nice show of restraint.
School bullying at boarding schools makes the backstory of the two protagonists pretty unpleasant and adds something real to the general popcorn-ness of the genre (and the story, somewhat).
The story outcome was so predictable that I was certain there had to be a twist, and I wouldn’t want to be friends with any of the characters except the secretary, but the details in the worldbuilding make me want to give this series another chance – maybe the second book is better? Or maybe I’ll check out Melissa Scott’s sci-fi – historians can write some really interesting worlds, after all, and I think she tends to be very queer-inclusive.