Royal Fae cousins uncover a human conspiracy against their kind during a crisis of succession.
Anya loves freedom and travel but will lose those pleasures, as her aunt, Queen Ubiqua, is naming her the heir in response to a prophecy of the queen’s death, skipping over Anya’s cousin, Illumina, whose claim is stronger. Illumina’s a troubled human-hater who opposes the truce with humans. To prevent Illumina from becoming queen while also avoiding the crown, Anya goes to the human world to find the runaway true heir, Ubiqua’s half-human son, Zabriel. Immediately after crossing the Bloody Road (a magical barrier only Fae can cross) into human lands, Anya’s caught by hunters who cut off her wings—a mutilation that destroys her magical elemental connection and prevents her from returning home. She’s rescued by a family fleeing unjust laws and befriends their eldest daughter, Shea, who joins her quest. The beginning is weighted down by pompous verbosity and expository worldbuilding delivered in awkward dialogue between characters who already know the information. Plot devices like eavesdropping and flashbacks finish the job, though not gracefully. Luckily, once Anya and Shea run afoul of law enforcement and a massive Fae-hunting operation with government ties, the pace picks up. A cliffhanger follows a climax filled with action and intrigue.
Uneven; only for patient, forgiving readers. (discussion questions) (Fantasy. 13 & up)