The mage-marked granddaughter of a ruler of Vaskandar, Ryx was destined for power and prestige at the top of Vaskandran society. But her magic is broken; all she can do is uncontrollably drain the life from everything she touches, and Vaskandar has no place for a mage with unusable powers.
Then, one night, two terrible accidents befall her: Ryx accidentally kills a visiting dignitary in self-defense, activating a mysterious magical artifact sealed in an ancient tower in the heart of her family’s castle.
Ryx flees, seeking a solution to her deadly magic. She falls in with a group of unlikely magical experts investigating the disturbance in Vaskandar—and Ryx realizes that her family is in danger and her domain is at stake. She and her new colleagues must return to the family stronghold to take control of the artifact that everyone wants to claim—before it destroys the world.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley for an honest review, and can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.
All her life in living in Gloamingard castle Ryx has lived by one rule ‘Nothing must unseal the door.’ So when a visiting dignitary arrives and starts asking questions about things she shouldn’t know about Rys gets wary and decides to follow her. When she finds her opening the door that Ryx has been told to protect she does what she can to stop them, but there is a problem, one touch from Ryx will kill the dignitary and Ryx can’t let that happen. In her haste to prevent more damage and try and keep the dignitary away she slips and the dignitary ends up dead. Her Grandmother finds her, the Witch King of Morgrain, and tells her to run and find the Rookery a group of people intent on finding and eliminating magical threats. But when she returns her Grandmother has disappeared and everything falls on Ryx’s head: trying to keep the peace between warring countries, running the castle and finding out exactly what lies behind that door and how to deal with it. It will take all of Ryx’s power, her working with the Rookery and even people she see’s as the enemy to close the door and save the world for good.
I was definitely intrigued going into this book, and while I enjoyed it as a whole there were parts of it that fell a little flat for me. I felt that the book took a while to get to the big reveal of what exactly was behind the door and if it hadn’t been for the strength of the characters I think it would have taken me a while to get through it.
Ryx is a character that you can’t help but feel for. Starved of human touch and emotions, she has lived her life with only a select few mages powerful enough to touch her, shrinking away from people in corridors and never being able to visit certain areas of the castle without the fear of killing them. It is a lonely life and it is also the motivation behind a lot of her decisions throughout the book. The side characters in this book were brilliantly developed and had huge parts to play in the overall plot. My favourites were those involved in the Rookery; Foxglove the leader and almost sounding board for Ryx, Bastien the scientist and a boy with a secret, Kessa the diplomat and Ashe the sword who has to be reminded far more that she should that killing is not always the best option. I’m definitely excited to read more about these and the other chacracters in the next book.
I found the magic system in this book really fun to read and learn about. In Vaskandar, Ryx’s country, each ‘county’ is run by a Witch Lord, a mage of incredible power who is immortal, with lesser mages being in charge of different holdings. Whereas in the Serene Empire Mages were viewed highly and conscripted as fighters in the Army but weren’t in positions of power. I enjoyed seeing the differences between the two and how this leads them to treat each other. Though we only leave Gloamingard for a small part of the book we learn an awful lot about the world outside through Ny’s interactions with the Rookery and the envoys.
One issue for me was, though this book was advertised as NA, and the characters certainly fit into that age range, the interaction, conversations and decision making of the characters fell a bit more into young YA for me. There were times when I felt Nyx’s focus was on the complete wrong thing and there were other characters whose decisions didn’t feel like ones made by ‘adults’. The author manages to keep the story flowing with a multitude of plot twists and making us as the reader unsure who we can trust.
I did feel parts of this book slightly predictable, the romance and some of the plot twists. However, the author certainly kept me guessing for most of the book and the strength of her characters and world make for an intriguing and fun read, and I am looking forward to picking up the sequel.