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.
The story follows the adventures of Princess Amora, from the Island Kingdom of Visidia, on her quest to protect her kingdom. This kingdom is interestingly divided into different islands, each with their own unique magic system. The author describes in detail the geographical locations, the clothing and the fashion of each of the different islands, with verve and imagination. The story is engaging and entertaining and contains some wonderful plot twists and turn. It encompasses all the usual YA tropes, and more, all presented in a unique and imaginative way. There is some wonderful rich and detailed world-building, with a dark and gruesome magic system, which is not for the fainthearted!
The first half of the book is a little slow and there is a lot of information to take in, in terms of the history of the world, characters and magic system and it takes time to build all this up. The second half certainly makes up for the slow build up and turns into a compelling and fast-paced epic adventure.
All the characters are well developed and likeable, and there is a strong female lead and a handsome love interest.
“It makes me want to push him off the ropes as much as it makes my stomach flutter in a way I’d rather not think about. A pirate has no right to look so handsome.”
Vataea, the mermaid, is an exceptional character and she heroically saves the day on several occasions. It was good to see all the main characters gradually form a close bond and become a strong united crew. I would have liked to have seen more time focusing on the build up to the romance, it all seemed a bit quick, and some extra time focusing on Bastian and Amora bonding and getting to know one another, their interactions, touches, and drilling down into their thoughts and feelings, would have made this the perfect read for me.
All in all, a wonderful debut fantasy novel with a good strong cast of characters, beautiful and detailed world-building and a wonderful seafaring adventure. Apart from the slow start the rest of the book is fast-paced and engrossing. A must read this summer and I am very much looking forward to the next instalment.
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: 4 August 2020
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my advanced copy of this book.