The nature of power, the strength of family: Gaughen (Reign the Earth, 2018, etc.) weaves big concepts into the action-filled story.
Here, the action moves across the sea to powerful air Elementa Aspasia, picking up shortly after the first volume’s conclusion. Captain, freedom fighter, slaver, and slave, Asp crews a motley collection of children and teens, all formerly enslaved, many with powers, who come from all the races and nations of Asp’s world (characters have a range of skin tones; race is not analogous to our world). Heavy topics are explored, some overtly—the psychic toll of having been enslaved, the complex dynamics of power—and some implicitly; sexual abuse of enslaved girls is subtly hinted at. The plot veers between the personal, as Aspasia searches for the siblings she lost seven years ago and falls in love with new crew member Kairos (the brother of the Tri Queen leading the resistance), and the political, as Asp and her crew work to harry slavers and find themselves instrumental in the growing war. While the balance is sometimes uneasy—there’s a lot of kissing and also a fair amount of bloodshed—the pacing keeps things moving. The final battle, when characters from both volumes come together, sets the scene for the explosive conflict to come. Gritty and dark despite tender moments.
Powerful young women who have hope and agency to change the world: What could be more timely? (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)