As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.
When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.
But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.
Amora Montara is the only child to the King and Queen and the current heir of Visidia. However, to prove her worth to lead she must show complete control of her soul magic, something only those with Montara blood can use, something she has practised for her whole life. On the night of her trial something goes awry and Amora looses all control. Locked in the dungeon unsure of her fate, when a dignitary from another land comes to free her claiming she is the only one who can save the kingdom from an uprising lead by a man named Kevan, she has little choice but to follow him. Little does she know all is not as it seems and she will learn about the unknown plight of her Kingdom and how the saving of it rests solely on her shoulders.
Amora was an absolutely brilliantly written character. I liked her from page one and thoroughly enjoyed reading the book from her perspective. She trusts her father unflinchingly and believes the stories told about the Montara’s soul magic. It is only when faced with another possibility that her belief starts to waver. Resilient, strong and unwavering in the sight of danger, she is exactly the sort of person you would want on your side and ruling your kingdom. Bastien is a lost boy. His homeland has been cut off from him since he was a child and he has spent his life travelling from place to place with his boat Keel Haul. He leads a rather solitary life, but when he convinces Amora to travel with him and kill the rebellion leader we see him start to come out of his shell and reveal things about himself he has kept hidden for years. Kerrick is Amora’s fiance, as far as their parents are concerned. He has loved Amora for years believing it was his duty to help her rule the kingdom one day. His magic is that of healing and he is one of the best in his skill able to grow back whole appendages. The last member of Amoras crew is Vatea a vengeful mermaid, she is the main cog in their plan and the crew would have died multiple times without her.
The magic system in this book was wonderfully unique. After the beast was beaten each land was given a type of magic they could practice: Valukans have elemental magic and must choose between either air, fire, water or earth; Mornuten’s have enchantment magic; Those of Kerost have the ability to manipulate their bodies through time, making them either faster or slower; Suntosuns are efficient at healing magic; Curmanans are skilled at telekinesis, some use this for levitation while others use it to communicate across Islands and finally Zudoh, the Island that specialises in curse magic banished from the Kingdom when Amora was just a child. The land stays at peace as long as each person only learns the one magic based off where they live, and if anyone tries to learn multiple magics they risk unleashing the beast again and bringing about the end of Vidisia.
The authors descriptive writing lift these magic styles off the page and effortlessly into your imagination. I loved reading the parts of the book where people were practising their magic and seeing the different strains it put on different people. As well as her descriptions of magic the authors world building was sublime. We get to travel the continent with Amora and her motley crew, seeing the lands that have thrived with their magic and those that have been left to defend themselves against elements out of their control. We also have the benefit of seeing all this through Amora’s eyes. We get to see her with almost rose tinted glasses at the beginning, believing the continent to be thriving and all its people happy to realising just how much her father hasn’t told her.
The romance in this book was well developed, I loved seeing the witty and flirty banter between the two characters at the beginning and following that along until they eventually act on those feelings. There was potential for a love triangle but I love how the author dealt with the situation and didn’t let it string out for too long. We also get to see the bonds of friendship and how, even knowing someone for a little time can bond you too them enough to want to risk your life for them. I loved every single member of Amora’s squad, but I will admit to Vatea being my favourite. I mean who doesn’t want to be a vengeful kick ass mermaid?
This was a fast paced and yet thoroughly descriptive read and I loved how the author weaves the history of the kingdom into the tale without taking away from the pace of the plot. There were plenty of twist and turns that keep you flying through the pages and a cliffhanger that had me reaching for the sequel… too bad I’ll have to wait a year. 4.5*