This is one of those YA books that really goes a lot deeper than you expect. I originally selected this book because it fit the criteria for my Halloween reading list…witches, dragons, and most importantly magic. What I didn’t expect was for it to have layers of deeper meaning!
The book follows the Elloren, a Gardnerian female, the grand daughter of the Black Witch who saved the Gardnerian race during the great war. Unfortunately for Elloren, she is apparently the spitting image of her grandmother and yet doesn’t have any of her magic…or so she believes. Throughout the book there are major hints that there is a more going on than at first glance and I don’t mean just with Elloren.
Both of her parents died when she was younger, and she was being raised by her uncle. He raised her and her brothers to be accepting of the other races in their world and raised them in a very modest way. He then agrees to let Elloren go to the University in order to delay her Aunt (is sister) from forcing her into Wandfasting…the equivalent of an arranged engagement and eventual marriage. At first it appears that her Aunt has the best of intentions until you find out that she is willing to put her in order to get her to give in and agree to an arranged marriage.
The author created this world that just draws you in. You are shown the different classes of people, the way race plays into power/hierarchy, how politics affected the different races, and how a persons bias paints their perception. Again, this book really does have deeper meaning. Elloren starts off as a sweet naïve girl from a small village and then goes to the University where there are all kinds of races…Kelts, Lupins, Elves, and much more. The Gardnerians of course believe that these other races are beneath them and because they were cruel to her Elloren starts viewing them with hatred as well. This becomes major plot point in this book. Luckily, she begins to realize that everything the Gardnerians are taught about the other races are a lie and that the Gardnerians were actually the villians in the story.
Suddenly she finds herself having to choose between her own people or protecting her friends. She ends up rescuing a Selkie who was sold as a slave (actually it was hinted that it was more of a sex slave but it was not out right said), rescuing a dragon but accidently letting hundreds free, and inadvertently joining the rebelling. The ending was so incredibly powerful. Yes, some people have given this book bad reviews because of the racism but if you just keep reading you get to see her views change. Gardnerians called Lupins wild animals but she becomes friends with two of them. The Gardnerians also believe in large families and would send away any person who was homosexual….yet she kept someone’s secret. She made the decision to find out the true history of her people and when she found out what it was, she realized that she had to do something. This girl from a small village, who is not “special”, ends up becoming someone who is going to make a difference.
Was there, a cliff hanger? Kind of but not in a bad way. It makes you so excited to read the next book in the series. In fact, I immediately went out and got the next book in the series! This was a page turner for me. I needed to know what was going to happen next and I found myself wanting to shake Elloren at times because she wasn’t realizing how closed minded she was being in the beginning. This book covered bigotry, injustice, and most importantly standing up for what you believe is right even if the world is telling you that you are wrong. I highly recommend this book! Oh and yes, there is a lot of magic in the book and many funny moments, but I was just in love with the fact that this book embraced topics that many other people would shy away from. It was amazing!!! Definitely Owls Book Nest approved!!!