This prequel to the popular Nightshade trilogy takes readers to Scotland in 1404, where the Searchers and Keepers conflict begins.
Readers won’t find any hint of paranormal wolves here. Sixteen-year-old Ember, from a noble family, yearns to become a warrior instead of a wife. Her friend Alistair, who secretly has taught her swordplay, happily accompanies her when she joins Conatus, a successor group to the Knights Templar that protects the world from evil supernatural forces such as hobgoblins. Conatus accepts women as warriors, continuing the overall series’ theme of personal freedom, and Ember eagerly chooses that role. She falls for Barrow, her mentor, but Alistair also declares his love for her. Meanwhile, serious outbreaks of wraiths occur, and the group captures a sorcerer who leads one of Conatus’ leaders to Bosque Mar, a strange entity who offers the group revenge against the Abbot who has threatened Conatus. While Ember secretly yearns for Barrow and fights for Conatus, a staged wraith attack convinces some to join with Bosque Mar. Although she gets dates right, the author doesn’t bother too much with historical accuracy, using the setting mainly to provide a fantasy atmosphere. However, the highly readable prose style that captured so many fans for her trilogy is very much in evidence. The resolution leaves plenty of room for more entries.
Exciting stuff, yet again. (Fantasy suspense. 12 & up)