The magically powerful Elemental Children shape their world by choosing the kings who rule its four sections: the desert, the ice regions, the woodlands and the grasslands. The people of the ice kingdom grieve when their elemental child, Lady Blue, is found drowned in a fountain. Suspiciously, her apprentice has vanished, as have the grasslands’ Sir Yellow and his apprentice. When two armed intruders invade the desert castle, Lady Red (also known as Ada) stands ready with her golden dagger. However, Phesoj, one of her adversaries, negates her fire abilities with an enchanted necklace, and she’s captured as well. As she travels the desert wastes with her enigmatic kidnapper and his teenage companion, Olem, she’s summoned via teleportation by Sir Black and Sir White, twin protectors of the woodland kingdom, who are under siege by a cloaked man in an evil-looking mask. Strangely, Sir White soon returns Lady Red and himself to Phesoj, who grudgingly begins to reveal his past, including his involvement in Lady Blue’s death. Can Ada trust him? She may have no choice if she wants to thwart the masked man’s plans. Debut author Acosta envisions a lively world with many intriguing, interlocking elements, including the Phoenix Beads, each with a value equivalent to a box of diamonds, and the islanders, whom nobody dares cross. Ada and Phesoj’s spirited dialogue helps to keep things entertaining, as when he asks her, “What goes through your mind that makes you act so freakishly?” Much of Acosta’s world, however, is unevenly described, and readers may occasionally find themselves disoriented. A stronger edit might have cleaned up lines such as, “This were her only warning before she pulled Olem away from Phesoj and jumped out of the with him.” Also, concepts such as the Phoenix Beads might have been better explained in the story itself rather than in footnotes.
An enthusiastically conceived, if awkwardly executed, debut.