Review: I Experimented Once in College by Aishlar Snow

PhD candidate William Yderis comes to Efeldon University to teach and finish his degree in charmcrafting. For methodical, sedate, and scholarly William, the school defies his expectations—and not in a good way. The biggest surprise comes when William meets his boss, absent-minded Archmage Taliesin Karsus, a man as infuriating as he is sexy.

As William struggles to carve out his place at the university, he is drawn in to Tal’s chaotic experiments… and drawn to Tal despite his logical mind’s protests. And if Tal’s wavering affection isn’t enough to complicate William’s studies, he uncovers a plot involving an ambitious staff member, brainwashed students, sexual assault, and a threat to the lives of everyone on campus. When it comes time to face the danger, William is on his own. For the first time in his life, he’ll have trust in his heart instead of his head.

Arriving at his new university, William finds the surroundings difficult to assimilate to, especially with his Professor Talisin, who is a little odd, and a little too familiar with William’s name, and personal space.

But William is determined to be the best assistant he can be, even if the experiments they are conducting scare him; and try and ignore the attraction he feels for the Professor, because it is completely inappropriate as far as William is concerned.

I liked William. I enjoyed his stiff personality. Being new is unnerving, and keeping to himself is his way of coping. Efeldon University is not what he is used to, and the chaos in the layout, and the classes is not helping him stay calm. He does find his footing and seems to relax a little more, but he has that type of personality that is organised, and requires everyone else to be organised in order for him to feel at ease.

Tal was harder to get to know. The story is told from William’s point of view, so all my information came from him. I enjoyed the connection they shared; they had good chemistry, but I wasn’t completely convinced of them because of the limited interactions and dialogue. I would have enjoyed getting to know Tal a little more. I did like what I got. He’s a force of nature, commanding, and direct, and has his eye on William.

The world building was good. I enjoyed the way the town was described. I thought the details were well done, and the culture was thorough enough to be realistic in this fantasy world.

The other characters were equally difficult to get to know. William seemed to spend more time in his head than being observant enough about those around him to give the reader a bigger glimpse of motive and personality.

As a short story, this was thorough enough in backstory, and world building to be satisfying. William was a likeable character, and I did enjoy the time I spent with him. I liked him best when he wasn’t on the defensive, and was enjoying himself. He seemed to loosen up a little and became a little more easy going. Except for the lack of secondary character development, I really enjoyed this story. There is plenty going on here to appeal to a broad audience.

I would recommend this as a light read for those who enjoy high fantasy in a Magical College setting with a little mystery thrown in.

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Dreamspinner Press or Goodreads.

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