Review: The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies by Wolfgang Edwards

★★★★½  The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies

For readers who are looking for an exciting ride past the boundaries of the unknown, the wild tales of The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies are right up your alley. Author Wolfgang Edwards shows that his powers of creativity are not to be trifled with as he builds an unforgettable world of magic and supernatural science that rivals some of the great fantasy authors of the past.

The book is broken up into 8 stories centering around various students of this peculiar university as they face impossible challenges, life-changing decisions and their own unbelievable potential as practitioners of untold power. However, this is not some reboot of Harry Potter with another magical school and a plodding succession of adventures; this world has harder edges and graver dangers.

Are you ready to take a course in Chronophysics? Do you want to learn all the terrifying secrets of the great Beyond? As this school states in its acceptance letter, students “have the opportunity to pierce the veil of the known universe and discover the mechanics of the supernatural.” With occult undertones, genuinely spine-chilling moments, and a richly developed cast of characters, this book delivers over and over again.

While the students may be studying Aesthetic Scribing and Mystical Alchemy, they are still dealing with many of the same “coming-of-age” challenges that make other series in this vein a success. Rather than watering down the writing with too much sentimentality, however, Edwards shows a rougher and more deadly side of a magical realm. The ability to depict visceral environments and drown readers in melancholic moods, when necessary, speaks to the author’s passion for his craft. Taking from some of the best traditions of horror and science fiction, these stories tangle in a dark knot that readers will be unable to stop unraveling.

As each story finishes, it becomes clear that there is a bigger picture playing out, and that this is not a collection of short stories, but a true epic, perhaps in preparation for a notable series, with interconnected plots and large mysteries where the truth peels back one layer at a time. Displaying an impressive knowledge of sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk and even dystopian literature, Edwards spins out one breathless story after the next, and this epic book reads like a relentless train speeding towards an ultimate showdown.

Balancing humor and human nature with science fiction and sorcery creates an unforgettable blend of fiction that should keep Edwards busy with a pen and paper for years. The completeness of this world that he has built is remarkable. Beyond that, the draftsmanship required to link so many disparate plot lines is impressive, and the continuity of Edwards’ world is graceful at every turn.

The ending feels somewhat abrupt, and there are numerous loose ends that could, or should, be tied up, but that is hopefully a signal that more will be coming from this bizarre school, its bold and unique student body, and the ever-changing Beyond. All in all, Edwards knocks it out of the park, and despite being a hefty tome, The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies is well worth the effort.


The University of Corporeal and Ethereal Studies