Jonothon Wyer lives in Polari, a town that experiences permanent night as part of Dark End. Its citizens mine blackrock and have outlawed magic, upgrading their own bodies with mechanical implants. Pollution, however, plagues the land, and Jonothon, an outcast, wheels around with a breathing regulator. He even sends Polari into chaos when he’s mistaken for a wizard from Day End (where society knows only sunlight and embraces magic). Excellent grades in school nevertheless make his future seem bright. But before joining the military and receiving implants to fix his breathing, he visits the Shrine of the Seraphim. There, he finds an odd medallion with a gem in its center. Upon returning to Polari, Jonothon learns that the empress—alongside an army of mechanical minions—is visiting from the capital. The boy’s mentor, Aquinas, tells him that she’s after his medallion, which is actually Attrayer’s Key, an artifact of immense power that can reshape the divided world. Jonothon decides to carve out a different future by doing the unthinkable—venturing into Day End. Debut author Grey offers a colorful mashup of sci-fi and fantasy motifs as his hero explores a world full of battle golems, tumnkins (who have fur and horns), griffins and dozens of other characters. Early on, he establishes a humorous tone with Dark End slogans: “Friends Don’t Let Friends Dabble in Magic!” There are also many passages emphasizing the meditative beauty of nature. In the forest, for example, “Time lost its meaning; [Jonothon’s] body felt connected to all the sounds around him.” Occasionally, Grey’s homage to the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the “Final Fantasy” video games makes for cluttered reading. The busy plot tries to mix angels and gods such as Shiva with magic and tech-suits, yet Grey’s central message is laudable, expressed by the Sage of Ages: “What is there to gain in heaven if we lose ourselves along the path to it?”
An imaginative feast for younger readers.