In this debut YA fantasy, a girl inadvertently reveals her magic ability, precipitating a witch hunt in a kingdom that hates and fears her kind.
Twelve-year-old Aurella is a witch, at least according to the school bullies who relentlessly taunt her. They tend to leave her alone if she’s with her teen guy pal, Mavic, who lives and works at the orphanage in the Dovice kingdom. But when Mavic spots Aurella in disguise (a spell she unknowingly casts), he drops a doozy: she really is a witch. She was adopted as an infant, but she’s surprised that Mavic seems to know about her birthparents. He further relays Dovice’s history: humans once lived in peace with warlocks and witches, but a warlock-sparked war led to a split country (the Dovice and Rashtica kingdoms) and a subsequent witch hunt. Aurella secretly practices her spells, chiefly manipulating others into seeing or hearing things. One day, however, trying to aid Mavic in an unfair fight, Aurella uses her powers in full view of villagers. Certain that people will respond with another witch hunt, Mavic suggests Aurella head for possible refuge in Rashtica. He joins her, with the two soon encountering allies and adversaries, while Aurella learns more about her past—and a few new spells. Sezate’s appealing tale retains a brisk pace (primarily Aurella and Mavic fleeing through a forest) and winsome characters. Aurella, for one, is a believable tween but with a welcome maturity, often calm in confrontations. Her relationship with Mavic is akin to siblings, and their banter never wears thin, complete with teasing and endearing insults. There are several solid plot turns, including the appearance of others capable of magic and tension riled up by deterrents: excessive spells ignite a blinding headache for Aurella. No timeline specification allows for a hefty batch of modern vernacular, though it’s occasionally repetitive, particularly utterances of “crap.” Sezate thoroughly wraps up Book 1 but ends on a cliffhanger, surely leaving readers on the hunt for a sequel.
A witty and enthusiastic tale about a powerful tween; a veritable delight.