A teenage girl wakes up in the woods with blood on her hands and no memory of her past in this YA fantasy novel.
In a world where Humans fear for their lives against a monstrous race called the Escali, an amnesiac girl named Allie soon discovers that she used to know something valuable to the Escali—and that they’re hunting her down in a bid to uncover it. But when she returns to the Dragona, a Human training ground for mages, she finds more questions than answers. The most disturbing question of all lies in a sheet of parchment that she uncovers in her room that features a series of tally marks: on one side is “Lives I’ve Saved,” and on the other, “Deaths That Were My Fault.” She teams up with Archie, another mage-in-training, to try to uncover the rest of her memories before any more people die. But it turns out that Archie has his own secrets, causing her to wonder whom she can trust. Fewkes effectively juggles characterization, plot development, and worldbuilding, with the latter leaving the largest impression. This is a realm that features dragons and magic users, a singing troupe of bakers, and three moons in the sky. The world’s believability comes through most, though, in the details of its culture and slang; for example, characters wish each other well with the phrase “Have a good life.” Fewkes also creates a strong setup for future series installments with a clear, swiftly moving plot. Unfortunately, not all is seamless, as everything hinges upon a big reveal, and it reads much more naturally—and with more moral ambiguity—after this plot twist occurs. Fewkes also sometimes lapses into heavy capitalization to convey Allie’s anger: “YOU DIRTY BACKSTABBER!” As a result, the novel is overdramatic at times, but its strengths overshadow its flaws.
An engaging fantasy with innovative and plausible worldbuilding.