Trudi Canavan is a new author to me. She has a very accessible, cosy writing style, suitable for YA fantasy. I’d recommend for fans of Tamora Pierce and/or Mercedes Lackey.
In this book we have two stories:
In one, we are introduced to a steampunk/magical world. A young student of magic named Tyen discovers a powerful book while on an archaeological expedition. It’s not just a book – it contains the consciousness of a woman, Vella, imprisoned in this form by a ruthless sorcerer long centuries before, and imbued with the ability to glean the knowledge of anyone who touches her. However, Tyen’s professor turns out to be ruthless as well, and as he tries to gain the book’s knowledge for himself, Tyen finds himself framed for a crime, kicked out of school, and fleeing for his life.
In the other story, we have a more ‘traditional’ fantasy setting. Rielle lives in a land where the use of magic is reserved for priests alone. Others found using magic secretly are subject to arrest and unknown punishments. Therefore, Rielle has always hidden her natural talents in that direction. At first, magic seems like the least of her worries. Her social-climbing parents have enrolled her in a young ladies’ school where her colleagues treat her with ill-concealed disdain. Caught under the weight of her parents’ expectations, Rielle ends up running off to become the lover of a poor artist. But will her lover treat her own artistic ability with the respect she deserves?
I’m sure you’re familiar with stories where two different POV characters are introduced; where separate storylines are created and developed before being woven together. Well, in this book, the two stories never come together. They don’t mirror one another, they don’t comment on each other. They take place in two different worlds and they are totally unconnected. Now, since there’s that “#1” up there in the subtitle, I’m certain there will be a sequel where Tyen and Rielle meet. But it doesn’t happen in this book – which means that the whole format of intercutting the stories with each other doesn’t work. They should simply have been presented as two separate stories.
However, I’d still be happy to find out what happens to both – or either – of the characters next.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Orbit for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.