Seventeen-year-old Kaya is the daughter of two Barrons who were forbidden to marry; they are all in hiding when she’s discovered by her country’s leaders and forced into training at Shadow Academy, an isolated boarding school.
To her great frustration, Kaya isn’t of the respected warrior class, like her parents. Instead, she’s a Healer, able to lay her hands on the Barron she’s Bound to and heal his wounds, but not good for much else—a secondary role she’s not willing to accept. Since the Barron she was Soulbound to at birth is dead, the academy binds her to a wealthy Barron, Trayton, whose Soulbound Healer is also dead. Although Trayton is handsome and friendly, he’s not a rule breaker like the attractive, moody Barron Darius, a young instructor at the school with a mysterious background. Both Barrons will be needed to fight off the Graplars—the dinosaurlike monsters that keep attacking the students and that Kaya’s determined to learn how to destroy. Kaya’s rigidly class-structured, relentlessly embattled world is vividly sketched, and while the stock characters never fully spring to life, the slice-’em–dice-’em, gore-infused action keeps the pace brisk. A fictional swear word, "fak," obviously substituted for another expletive, peppers the text, an annoying contrivance.
Readers will be swept along as Kaya determinedly takes control of her own future in this predictable if spirited series opener. (Fantasy. 11 & up)