In an alternate early 20th-century world where Japan and the US have created a powerful alliance, a secret geomancer struggles to protect herself and the city she loves from forces seeking to shake San Francisco to pieces in Breath of Earth, the first in a new alternate history fantasy series by Beth Cato.
In the alternate world that Cato depicts, there is magic in the world, and the primary form of magic are those magicians who are sensitive to the movements of the earth. These geomancers not only can keep San Francisco tectonically stable, but can channel the bled off energy into a mineral, kermanite, whereupon that energy can be discharged to do work, to power vehicles and other things in the same way that a battery can. Thus, kermanite is an extremely potent strategic resource, and its acquisition and control is part of the reason for the Japan-US alliance. Even better, the novel shows the clear costs and dangers of geomancers. It’s a potent form of magic, but one that can cause not only destruction around the user, but actively be harmful for their health. There are also social costs to being a geomancer, a theme that Cato has explored previously in the Clockwork Dagger series.