Chima returns to her best-selling contemporary fantasy series with an entry that is almost entirely setup—but such delicious setup.
Ten years ago, something terrible happened at the magical commune of Thorn Hill, a refuge from vicious Weir infighting. Thousands died, leaving only a few hundred young children, horribly damaged and with mutated gifts. Jonah is one of those survivors, born a charismatic and empathetic enchanter but now cursed with a killing touch, which he reluctantly employs to hunt down the undead spawn of the massacre. Meanwhile, Emma scarcely remembers Thorn Hill and knows nothing of her sorcerous heritage, until her grandfather’s murder sends her fleeing into the epicenter of Weir intrigue, prejudice, accusations and assassination. There are so many complicated storylines introduced here—characters old and new, factions with shifting allegiances and agendas, plots and counterplots and secrets and lies—that the protagonists don’t even meet for over 100 pages, and the volume ends on a grisly cliffhanger. Yet the twisty narrative works, propelled by the deft characterizations of tortured, frustrated, desperate Jonah and fierce, feral, determined Emma and held together by the ubiquitous soundtrack of the blues, both literally and metaphorically. Chima orchestrates a world gravid with smoke and grit and sudden death, throbbing with hopeless longings, messy affections, festering resentments, passionate hungers, inevitable betrayals, and miraculous flashes of beauty and grace.
A smoldering story soaked in tears, sweat and blood, constantly threatening to blaze into an inferno. Spellbinding. (Fantasy, 14 & up)