Stella Mayweather works at a temporary clerks job in London and lives in a very small, run-down flat after growing up in a series of foster homes. She’s odd, everyone either knows it or figures it out and soon she moves on because people can’t handle being around her because of that oddity.
And the news reports are filled with stories of women around Europe and then in England are getting taken and put into bonfires, burned to death as witches. In this day and time, someone called the Brotherhood has declared war on women. One night Stella gets chased home by these men who have every intention of making her their next victim. She manages to allude them and get home, only to have a young woman show up at her door telling her that she is in danger and she has to come along with her NOW. Etoile, the lady at her door, isn’t kidding around and as she convinces Stella of the immediacy of the need to move, the Brotherhood starts throwing firebombs into the apartment. Etoile gets Stella out, by magical means, and Stella’s life is completely changed from that moment on.
Illicit Magic is the first of a series about Stella and the world just on the edge of our own, one controlled by magic and headed by a Council of Elders that is fighting both the Brotherhood and something else, something deeper. Stella moves into a house kept by a lady named Meg with a lot of other students of magic, is taught by Evan and David to harness her skills, skills she has buried for many years. Things are not as they seem, there are questions about her parents, a missing sister of Etoile, odd behavior by another student without magic, and then there’s Evan. Stella is drawn to him like a moth to a flame, but will she get her wings singed?
This book is a lot slower that many of the other paranormal books I have read. Camilla spends a lot of time describing general life in the household and building up the relationships between the students and the teachers before she gets to the final few scenes that are the real meat of the book. Sometimes I found myself wanting to skip ahead and look for the good stuff when I got bored of watching Stella working on her lessons yet again. But the last 1/3 of the book made the rest of it well worth the wait as she pulled together several threads and explained a lot of the hinted upon background we saw all through the book. By the time I finished, I was in tears and wanting to pick up the next book, Unruly Magic.