The Cobalt Domain, a magical land separate from yet linked to our own, is divided into nine distinct, color-coded “Darus.” Milo Davenport has spent her life studying them, looking for a way to get back to our world. She’s on her way to find a gateway home when the Yellow Daru is disturbed by the arrival of Cassandra “Casey” Campbell. The Cobalt Domain has been unstable since a despot named Pioneer began an attempt to subjugate the entire Domain under his rule. He and his minion, Shady, have the power to morph dissidents into harmless creatures. Pioneer is desperate to capture Milo so as to end her status as a secret hero and beacon of hope for the so-called Partisans he subjugates. Casey, however, just might throw a wrench in those plans, as Milo recruits her for a mission of utmost importance: to carry vital knowledge to Jake Lancaster, a fellow dissident seeking a way to save his wife and son from Pioneer. Casey will have to navigate treacherous terrain, political unrest and an alien world if she is to ever have a chance of seeing home again. Casey’s adventures are painted in fast-moving, easy-to-read prose divided into digestible chapters. Unfortunately, the story ends up too far on the side of simplicity. Dialogue often reads more as an adult’s idea of how teenagers talk—“Well…I don’t have all day to sit here and wait for you to decide whether or not I’m really a Yellow”—and the villains, Pioneer and Shady, lean toward being caricatured. The plot is smooth and the story’s nevertheless entertaining. Casey’s budding relationship, the small details of worldbuilding—calling an hour a “flux,” a glow a “month,” etc.)—and many of the minor “morph” characters stand out as particularly enjoyable.
Solid YA fantasy that, in spite of a few rough patches, should appeal to fans of the genre.