Jessamin Olea has been sent away from her native island of Melei to attend school in the dull and sinister Albion, a country that bears a vague resemblance to Victorian England.
While struggling with her studies and fighting both homesickness and poverty, Jessamin comes literally under the spell of a mercurial aristocrat named Finn Ackerly, who returns her affections and attempts to protect her from the evil, sadistic Lord Downpike. The rebellious and headstrong girl refuses the attempts of the various Alben nobility to protect her, even as the elite struggle to gain control of Albion’s colonies. All hell breaks loose when Jessamin inadvertently takes possession of Lord Downpike’s familiar, a black bird that morphs into a book of spells on occasion but protects Jessamin from the worst of the magic. Downpike’s attempts to recover the bird/book and Jessamin’s frantic pursuit of the captured Finn through a maze of magic portals and strongholds make for a thrilling if confusing narrative. Jessamin’s engaging first-person, present-tense narration does not entirely compensate for the tenuous logic of the plot and the preponderance of stereotyped characters.
Not really enough substance to make a satisfying read even for paranormal addicts. (Paranormal romance. 12-17)