Esmes Indie Highlights/SPFBO: Magic Comes to Whiteport by S. J. Madill

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This has been picked for a semi final spot by Ventureadlaxre and their review is here:

I found this to be a light charming read with a lot of heart, it’ll appeal to people who enjoy character driven novels.

Bingo: Self Published, Getting Too Old For This Shit, Seafaring? Dragons? Non Human POV?

Previous Square: Protag that flies


Kat wakes up after being resurrected by a necromancer and is on her way via airship to Whiteport – where the Baron who killed her and her family lives. She’s come back on a mission of revenge.

Necromancers are allowed to practice and won’t be hunted down if they follow a few rules, such as reporting anyone they’ve resurrected. Heirs back from the dead have  a month to file a claim or their lands and property revert to the local lord. This is exactly what Baron Jerrold did, hired thugs to kill the family so he could inherit. She has to get revenge before he finds out she’s been resurrected and gets to her before she can get to him.

The Nick is in jail at the beginning of his POV, he was sneaking around where he shouldn’t have been with a ring that makes him invisible, but his magic gear has been misbehaving and the ring stopped working. He was caught and thrown in prison, but someone who needs his help comes and sets him free.

Anson is also on her way to Whitepost, she’s a guard to a very old and very powerful lord, Lord Jaminus. Anson is an older protagonist which is always something I enjoy reading about. She’s been serving Lord Jaminus for 40 years, and she’s become very patient and very good at reading her Lord. Jaminus can hear other peoples thoughts and prayers and finds them to be mostly greedy and selfish, his anger grows dangerous when he’s around too many people for too long.

Final Score: 7.5/10


  • Kat – an undead woman on revenge for her own murder and the murder of her family. She’s determined, working herself extremely hard to be prepared to take on Lord Jerrold. She’s an easy to like character and I found myself rooting for her, and her friendship with Donza made for enjoyable dialogue.
  • Donza – a rather cheerful and feminine necromancer, a refreshing change from the stereotypical necromancer persona. She’s a really good friend to Kat she’s supporting her through her mission for revenge, and will be there afterwards to help her deal with the aftermath. She’s able to talk to the dead and she helps when she can. Her magic has a cool visual element to it – bright purple glow and flames.
  • Anson – a patient and intuitive guard to Lord Jaminus. Experience has given her an even temper and good judgement. She acts as a mentor to Howe who is a young knight who’s accompanying her and Lord Jaminus on their quest. Overall she has good intentions and obviously cares deeply for her lord and her Oath to him. She’s the primary POV so we see both Howe and Jaminus through her perspective.
  • Howe – a young knight who was rescued from the gallows by Anson. A mage took revenge on a friend of his and set him on fire, so Howe counter attacked nearly killing the mage. In the process it was found out that he’s magic resistant, which sparked the interest of Anson, she showed up at his jail cell and made an arrangement with law enforcement to release him instead of hang him. He’s respectful and dutiful and is trying to learn what his tasks and responsibilities will be if he takes the Oath to Lord Jaminus, which is a lifetime commitment.
  • Jaminus – an elderly lord who’s on a mission in Whiteport, it’s vital that he goes through with it or the world could be in danger. He’s very focused on the morality of others, he can hear their thoughts and prayers and it drives him mad sometimes. He’s a Seer so when he meets people he knows their whole life story and knows whether they’re a good person or a bad person. He cares for his family, but it’s sort of sad because he thinks they fear him instead of love him because of how incredibly powerful he can be.
  • The Nick – a Nickname and not really a name, he’s a bit full of himself and a risk taker. He’s been rescued from jail from a mysterious person who’s extremely powerful and obviously backed by money. They take a ship and sail out to the end of the world where magic stops to track down thieves who are stealing magical weapons and artifacts.

Final Score: 8.5/10


There are massive skyships that can carry hundreds from place to place, it’s really neat for people who are into skyships.

After being resurrected Kat is waiting for her senses to come back, most important to her being her sense of touch. She’s just beginning to be able to feel the sun on her face again, but it still waiting for her fingertips to regain feeling. There’s a slow down between thought and movement that’s dragging her down as well.

Whiteport is medievalish city with horse drawn carriages and dirt roads and it’s based on a harbor. The city used to be called Wights Port and was founded by an undead overlord who created a cult and amassed zombies. There are crypts under the Whiteport holdfast with undead guardians roaming the catacombs.

One of the characters had dragonskin armor and there was talk of people fighting dragons, so there are dragons out there but it wasn’t a main feature of the book.

There was a really neat twist on how magic came into the world at the end, and a lot of pieces fell together right at the end which lead to a really satisfying and heartfelt conclusion.

Final Score: 8.5/10


The pacing for this will depend on if you enjoy character driven novels, until about 50% there wasn’t much of any fight scenes or action scenes, it was all world building, plot development, and character development. I adore books like this so I flew through it, all of the characters were engaging and different in their own ways which made the POV switches interesting.

The writing was clean, you could give this to a kid – and there weren’t many spelling or grammar errors, I think I caught just one.

The tone was lighter and adventurous while also being pretty violent. Donza was my favorite character and she was just a cheerful character to read about, and rather sweet. I loved the friendship between Donza and Kat.

Pacing Final Score: 7/10

Writing Final Score: 8/10


I liked the originality of this book from the start, having a POV wake up after being killed as an undead was a good hook for me.

Final Score: 8/10


  • For people who prefer multi pov
  • For people looking for female pov
  • For people who prefer a lot of magic
  • For people who like air ships
  • For people who like hoards of undead
  • For people who like crypts, necromancers, catacombs
  • For people who like lighter stories
  • For people who prefer clean writing
  • For people looking for little or no romance

Final Score: 47.5/60 or 7.9/10 or 4 stars on goodreads.

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