Teens with elemental powers become the first students in three millennia to attend a school, which shadowy forces have targeted, in this launch of a YA fantasy series.
In the world of Gaia, the three Elemential Schools are Fujita (Wind and Wisdom), Sereni (Water), and GroundStone (Earth and Rock). Each sends its top four students to attend Harahm’be in the Valley of Gaia, the first time in over 3,000 years the former School of Fire has accepted students. S’rae is an outcast at Fujita because, unlike richer schoolmates, she wasn’t born in the Wind region. But she’s excited that her adoptive brother, Vayp, is at Harahm’be, as the two haven’t seen each other in years. Vayp is a troublemaker at GroundStone; he and S’rae don’t make friends easily but soon display impressive abilities at the school’s arena. Meanwhile, Harahm’be Headmaster, Gabrael, the God of Fire and King of Gods, reads to the students from the enigmatic Book of Eve. It largely centers on Destrou, “the boy who never lived,” and S’rae sees parallels between her life and Destrou’s. Meanwhile, a traitor reveals the school’s secret location to a villain controlling giant lethal robots (Mechas) and plotting an attack on Harahm’be. The anonymous author introduces a magical world while skillfully incorporating recognizable adolescent turmoil. S’rae’s bully from Fujita, for example, joins her at Harahm’be, and initially unlikable Vayp bullies delightfully kooky Han’sael. Dialogue, even within the Book of Eve, befits the teen characters, who see things as “awesome” or “sooo amazing.” Han’sael’s speech is particularly bizarre but often amusing: “I’m sorriorry....” The novel’s action scenes showcase different students’ various powers as well as the formidable Mechas—and even deadlier PriMechas. While this book is clearly setting up future series installments, there’s a resolution (e.g., the traitor’s identity) and twisty conclusion. Rykyart’s illustrations are awash in color as characters are silhouetted against resplendent backdrops of blues, greens, etc.
Distinctive characters and magic-infused action should leave readers craving the next volume.