Motorcycle gangs and magical powers: two great concepts that go unexpectedly well together.
In Rush’s version of the world, the kindled—those with magical powers—live among, but slightly separate from, the drecks, or ordinary humans. Recently graduated 18-year-old Jemmie, biracial daughter of a powerful Carmichael (protective locant power, Scottish antecedents) and a weak Cabrera (merata, or invulnerability power, South American indigenous roots), has a synesthesialike ability to see and smell magic. As a result, she can’t cast or even spend too much time around magic without needing alcohol to dull the sensory overload. She’s also in love with powerful Crowe Medici, the attractive, white president of the Black Devils, and engaged in a dangerous flirtation with a member of a rival gang, the Deathstalkers. All this back story and mythology takes a while to get established, dragging out the first half with slightly too much first-person exposition, but the annual Kindled Festival brings plenty of plot in the form of secret powers, secret revenge plans, and lots of magical inter-gang fighting. What this lacks in finesse is largely mitigated by originality, leavened with many crowd-pleasing notes: a not-so-subtle message about power and responsibility, steamy romance, an interesting world, and a zinger of an ending that leaves open the possibility of more complex adventures to come.
Don your leathers and get riding this (sub)urban fantasy. (Fantasy. 13-18)