In the first of Cruz’s fantasy series, a woman, living in a world where magic is illegal, learns she may be part of a powerful prophecy.
Following a war in The Enchanted Isles centuries ago, natives of Canto and Faery lost their innate magic. Only in Mythos did mages retain their Power, while magic anywhere else is unlawful. In present day, Inez Garza, a Canti, is a smuggler of magical relics. Though Inez is the disinherited heir to Árbol Real, she still has access to family wealth, and she donates her smuggling profits to a resistance movement against Mythos. The resistance leader, Rowley, a magical (talking) dog, gives Inez a cowry shell and tasks her with locating three more, believing the shells are the key to restoring everyone’s intrinsic abilities. Unexpectedly, the shell seems to unlock a dormant Power in Inez. She, for one, envisions the recent, unsolved murder of Delaware Humphrey. Fearing Mythos’ response to discovering magic in Canto, Inez searches for Delaware’s killer. This ultimately leads her to family secrets and her possible tie to the Ternion, an individual destined to bring mystical forces back to The Enchanted Isles. Cruz packs a lot of plot into her novel. For example, along with Inez’s noble lineage, she has a history with and lingering romantic interest in Zavier Cole, Canto’s prince whose brother and sister-in-law became king and queen. Multiple backstories, including Inez’s late duchess grandmother and The Enchanted Isles’ origin, provide a rich foundation for the present-day narrative. The author likewise employs myriad characters to further complicate the plot and give Inez reason to distrust nearly everyone. Cruz’s no-frills prose doesn’t stint on wit: Inez’s haunt is Froth, a tavernlike establishment that serves milk and optional syrups.
An epic, rewarding tale sure to garner fans ready for sequels.