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Review: The Two Doctors Górski by Isaac Fellman


Thanks to the publisher (Tordotcom) for the ARC of this book.

Of course I would have read this novella one way or another. Fellman is perhaps one of my favourite authors. The Breath of the Sun and Dead Collections are both some of my all-time favourites. I’d read anything he writes. The Two Doctors Górski was not quite as enjoyable – it’s a high bar! – but it was still a great, if heavy read in Fellman’s usual understated style.

Escaping academic abuse by an influential professor, Annae’s last chance to complete her PhD in psychology-related magic seems to be studying in England under the infamously rude but brilliant Dr. Marec Górski, who is famous for having made a homunculus called Ariel. She also cannot stop herself from reading minds.

As you can imagine, while it may be short, it’s not in any way a light read. Annae in many ways jumps out of the frying pan into the fire – her former professor Jonathon has abused her through their romantic relationship, but Marec…isn’t great either, just awful in a different way. He ignores her, belittles her, and as with the other female students he had before, tries to do anything to break her and make her quit. It doesn’t help that he caught her trying to read his mind.

Like in Dead Collections which treats vampirism as a chronic illness, the magic aspect is also treated as something entirely commonplace, something you learn as a child and can later study at university. Very downplayed, though I wonder how much of that is because of Annae’s trauma. But both mundane made magical and magical made mundane have always interested me.

I can see why someone might find it boring or underdeveloped or without enough sense of wonder, but for me it worked.

Enjoyment: 4/5
Execution: 4.5/5

Recommended to: dark academia fans, those who like fantasy with a more down to Earth approach, prose lovers, those looking for an autistic protagonist
Not recommended to: those looking for a light read or more flashy/wondrous magic

Content warnings: a very heavy one for abuse

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