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.
I was immediately drawn to this book by its synopsis although I remained hesitant as I know YA fantasy can either be hit or miss. For me, this was a hit! As always, I’m going to split my review into sections such as characters, plot and general thoughts but I can safely say this book was a pleasant surprise. It has a complex magic system as well as a large map filled with various lands that feature throughout the book. However, as well as finding it easy to follow and understand as the book goes on (and with no info-dumps in sight,) there’s also a handy guide at the front of the book!
One of my favourite things about this book was the mini found family we build as the journey progresses. Our main character, Amora, is headstrong, courageous and very dedicated to her people. Determined to be the Queen she has trained to be, she will stop at nothing to prove herself and I love that she was a natural leader to the rest of the crew. We also have Ferrick, the man Amora has been arranged to marry yet holds no romantic feelings towards. Bastian, the mysterious pirate who Amora flees with in exchange for her helping him regain his stolen magic and finally, Vataea, a beautiful yet deadly mermaid they rescue and recruit onto their crew. I saw a few reviews saying this book has a love triangle and I won’t go too in depth with my thoughts but I will say it isn’t as straight forward as it seems. The main character doesn’t have to make a choice.
The plot is action-filled and there’s no dull moment. Amora’s journey starts pretty much at the beginning of the book and doesn’t ever stop (hint at a sequel?) so I was hooked immediately. I loved seeing all the different lands the crew travelled to and the people they met along the way. The world-building was rich and each land was unique and different. It gave me a reason to flip back to the map illustration and mark their journey along the way. There’s mythical creatures, magical abilities and knife fights. Everything you want in a YA fantasy.
Overall, I think this is a strong YA fantasy and it makes for an exciting sounding sequel. I loved the variety of characters with their unique magical abilities and also finding out the history of their powers. I’d definitely recommend checking this one out if you haven’t already!
Lots of Love,