In this conclusion to a YA fantasy trilogy, the inhabitants of an enchanted realm face the impending— and foretold—battle between Dark and Light.
Half-faerie Melia Albiana is the chosen vessel for the entity Umbra. Umbra seeks the utter destruction of the Whole, which comprises all known worlds, including the mortal one. Surprisingly, Melia fought for the opportunity to be a vessel. The Grey Council, rulers of the enchanted world, has decided that Umbra’s incarnation is a necessity. For years, his presence in a realm called the Void has maintained a balance in the birth and death of mortal souls. But his rapid growth is now a potential danger, and the Whole can only evolve if he is no longer in the Void. Melia has about a year before Umbra incarnates, but she can still feel his presence and fears that he will ultimately take control. This makes her reluctant to marry her love, Ryder. Meanwhile, Melia’s cousin, Lilliane, princess of Illialei in the enchanted world, blames Melia for the death of the man she loved. The princess wants to stop Umbra’s incarnation, as Melia could use the entity’s power to unseat Lilliane’s royal family. That’s just what Melia plans on doing, in revenge for all the innocent blood the Illialei queens have spilled. This all seems to be leading to the prophesied Dark and Light confrontation, which Melia is prepared to fight, so long as Ryder is by her side. But then she faces a personal crisis after she’s understandably shaken by Ryder’s sudden arrest: Lilliane abducts one of Melia’s loved ones.
Though the final book in Garrett’s (Half Mortal, 2015, etc.) series dives right into the story, new readers (or ones who have perhaps forgotten details of previous novels) won’t at all be lost. The author pushes the narrative forward with subtle but lucid reminders of preceding events, and comprehensive glossaries of characters and places are included at the book’s end. Melia remains an engrossing protagonist while epitomizing the conflicting nature of the characters. For example, in order to challenge the sinister Lilliane, she becomes the embodiment of another, possibly worse evil. Other players are equally intriguing and often tormented. Melia’s older half-faerie sister, Melusine, like their mother, fell in love with a mortal who had broken the faerie troth by witnessing her transformation. Surprisingly, Lilliane is an appealing character despite her unequivocal status as a villain. Her retaliation against a ship’s cook who disrespects her is cruel but also innovative and darkly humorous. The forthcoming battle as well as Umbra’s arrival gives the story an overall sense of dread and quite a few somber moments. But tension is lessened by Melia and Ryder’s romance, which is endearingly strong even if it may be doomed. There are likewise instances of understated humor; Lilliane believes a dragon sighting is “rather fantastical,” as the beasts prefer drier climates. Garrett’s prose is, once again, lyrical and serene: “Her gaze returned to the moons, one white and one pale purple. She stared for hours, in silent communion with the Whole itself.”
A stirring, satisfying ending to an epic, otherworldly series.