{audiobook} Subversive (2020)

by Colleen Cowley
Publication: September 27, 2020
Series: Clandestine Magic Trilogy #1

Book review

Narrated by: Leanne Woodward
Release date: June 23, 2021
Length: 11 hrs and 57 mins

**I was provided access to the audiobook through the author. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Peter Blackwell returns to his former hometown Ellicott Mills to serve as the town’s resident wizard, an omnimancer to help with illnesses or other problems that may arise in the town. Requiring an assistant, he manages to steal Beatrix Harper from her current place of employment (against her wishes). Although initially adverse to the idea, Beatrix agrees to help him, not realizing that helping Peter will require her to break the law because he didn’t exactly return home to just be an omnimancer.

I’ve gushed about the Clandestine Magic Trilogy as being one of my favorite trilogies in 2020. It was about time for a reread it when I found out about the audiobook. I don’t typically listen to audiobooks because I’m picky about narrators, and audiobooks take longer than if I read the book myself. I don’t mind audiobooks as rereads though. I immensely enjoyed the audiobook Subversive.

Subversive is the perfect blend of everything I love: historical fiction, fantasy, and romance. As a student of political science, I thought Cowley captured perfectly the distribution of power as it relates to women’s rights and those without magic, or typics. Those with magic hold an inordinate amount of authority as compared to those without magic and women have fewer rights compared to men. Wizards and men try to maintain their power by ensuring women remain without it. This serves as the backdrop to Peter’s return to his hometown and his employment of Beatrix. The reread reminded me why Beatrix and Peter make the perfect duo and remain one of my favorite couples.

While I initially listened to the audiobook at its normal speed, I eventually increased it to 1.1x its normal speed. Because I usually talk fast, this was a perfect speed and sounded more natural to me in both pace and tone. Once I got comfortable with the speed, it was easy enough to enjoy the narration. Through Leanne Woodward’s narration, Cowley’s magnetic storytelling comes to life. Woodward is the perfect narrator, and I don’t think I would have been able to finish the audiobook had I not liked her narration. Her enunciation is perfect, and her voice is clear. Characters are distinguished through different voices, which I liked a lot. Even with multiple female characters, each voice is distinct from the other so it’s easy to tell the individuals apart. For instance, Beatrix’s voice sounds closer to the narrator whereas Beatrix’s sister Lydia has a softer voice and is higher in pitch. Aside from the voices, I especially enjoyed the variation in intonation to exhibit an array of emotions. One of my favorite displays of this is when Beatrix first realizes what Peter has planned for her.  Woodward’s anguish as Beatrix called to me and broke my heart just like when I first read it.

I hope Leanne Woodward remains the narrator for the rest of the books. I already have Radical, book two in the trilogy, lined up as my next listen.

The Bookworm’s Book Tag

I was tagged by the wonderful Kat @ KBbookreviews. Kat has read some fun books including In The Ravenous Dark and Six of Crows. If you’re curious if they’re goods reads, make sure to read Kat’s reviews! Also make sure to read Kat’s responses to the book tag.

The Rules:

  1. Thank and link the blogger who nominated you
  2. Include the tag graphic in your post **
  3. Answer the 10 questions the blogger asked
  4. Nominate 5-10 bloggers
  5. Ask your nominees 10 book related questions
  6. Don’t feel bound to these rules
  7. Have fun!

**I didn’t see the graphic and was unsure where to find it. If someone knows, please let me know and I will update this post**

1. Do you have a favourite book quote? If so, what is it?

This is a hard question. I have a Quotes feature with quotes from books and other places. A recent favorite quote is from Mhairi McFarlane’s Just Last Night (2021):

2. Who is your favourite book character from your reads this year?

My most recent favorite character hails from the Ignite the Stars duology, the Blood Wolf herself, Ia Cōcha .

3. If you could only recommend one book to someone, which book would it be?

I just did a Let’s Talk Bookish post on this and chose The Sun is Also A Star. I love how everything takes place in a single day and its infusion of the scientific method.

4. You have found yourself in trouble but can have the help of one book character, who would you partner up with and why?

Oooohhh!!! This is a good question and a really difficult one. I am going to have to say… shape shifter Simon Wolfgard from Anne Bishop’s The Others series. I have a book crush on him (he’ll keep me occupied so I don’t freak out about the trouble) and he’s also a problem solver with connections (I swear this is the real reason why I would partner up with him…hahaha).

5. Who are your top three favourite book villains?

6. Do you prefer single or multiple POV books?

I’ve learned to enjoy multiple POV books, but I can’t have too many POVs or else I get antsy because I want to get back to the main character. Two and possibly three is a good number for me.

7. What is your favourite and least favourite genre?

I love fantasy and romance the most. They’re nearly on equal footing. My least favorite genre is probably horror. I scare easily. If I read a horror novel, I don’t think I’d be able to sleep for a while.

8. Do you own an special edition books? If so, which ones?

Do collector’s editions count? The only ones I can think of right now are Shadow and Bone and The Six of Crows duology. I haven’t read them but I couldn’t help but purchase special editions because they were so pretty. I also lucked out and got Illumicrate’s The Poppy War trilogy special editions.

9. Which authors are auto-reads for you?

  • Rachel Lynn Solomon: Solomon’s writing is impeccable. Today Tonight Tomorrow remains one of my favorite novels. Recommendation: Today Tonight Tomorrow
  • Stacey Lee: Lee reminded me why I used to love historical fiction and her protagonists provide a nuanced glimpse of history that is normally absent from history books. Recommendation: The Downstairs Girl
  • Suzanne Park: Park’s characters are relatable and I love the humor in them. Recommendation: Loathe at First Sight

10. What is your favourite mythical/magical creature?

Dragons reign supreme for me. They’re the reason I fell in love with fantasy in the first place.

My Questions:

  1. I’m stealing from Kat and would like to know, do you have a favorite book quote? If so, what is it?
  2. What is the first book you can recall that made you realize you would be a lifelong reader?
  3. What was your first 5-star read this year and why?
  4. What is a place you’d like to visit because you read about it in a book? It can be a fictional or nonfictional place.
  5. Which character from a book would you like to trade places with for a day?
  6. What book would you change the ending to?
  7. What is one of your favorite tropes and a book that does it well?
  8. Who is a secondary character you adore and deserves a book of their own?
  9. What is your favorite retelling?
  10. What is one reading goal you have for the remainder of the year?


Please do not feel obligated to complete the tag.