Gender-nonconforming Princess Thedra must survive the Poison Forest despite the limitations of her magic in order to save her former betrothed, Princess Dette.
Seventeen-year-old Thedra, a powerful lightning elemental, becomes High Priestess of Death and can now take her father’s throne. But grief over her mother’s recent death and the subsequent breaking of her betrothal to half-sylph, half-human Dette leaves her unsure of what she wants. When rumors of a dark mage stealing powered girls become all too real—Dette is kidnapped by a magical monster—Thedra defies her father to rescue her. She is joined by untrained fire elemental Neev, who is Dette’s lady-in-waiting, and Agate, a palace guard and rare powered man. Together they must travel through the Poison Forest and face the mage. Complicating matters, Thedra finds herself falling for Neev. But can she really trust her companions? If not, her power alone won’t be enough to save Dette. In this debut novel filled with magic, sylphs, goblins, and goddesses, well-written, underrepresented diversity abounds: All the main characters are queer; Thedra, Neev, and Agate read White, and Dette is brown-skinned with curly black hair. The refreshingly organic integration of representation and the action-packed second half of the book are worth its slow start.
Full of creepy, exciting magical action and well-rounded characters with complex relationships.(Fantasy. 14-18)