Transported from her sheltered village life to join the diverse, magical student body at Verpax University, Elloren Gardner’s comfortable sense of history is challenged by living and learning alongside Elves, shape-shifting Lupines, and even feared, demonic Icarals.
In Gardneria, mages rule the land, brought to power by Elloren’s illustrious forebears, including Elloren’s magically powerful grandmother, The Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back enemy forces in the Realm War; however, a Gardnerian Seer predicts a new Black Witch will rise to battle a Great Winged One. Yet although she’s the spitting image of Carnissa, with the black hair, glimmering skin, and green eyes characteristic of pure-blooded Gardnerians, Elloren appears devoid of magical powers in a society that prizes them. Pressured by her politically powerful aunt Vyvian to be wandfasted to attractive Level Five Mage Lukas Grey, Elloren draws the ire of his jealous, would-be suitor Fallon Bane—another Level Five Mage rumored to be the next Black Witch. At Verpax, Elloren must room with two Icarals and work alongside rainbow-hued Urisks and Kelts whose “blood is polluted” with other races’. But as Elloren slowly befriends her strange set of schoolmates (Lupine twins Diana and Jarod, Icaral roommate Ariel, and attractive and mysterious Kelt Yvan) she’s challenged to confront her own prejudices. At book’s end, Yvan, Elloren, and the mysterious white wand she possesses brim with potential power. In Elloren’s tale, this briskly paced, tightly plotted novel enacts the transformative power of education, creating engaging characters set in a rich alternative universe with a complicated history that can help us better understand our own.
A massive page-turner that leaves readers longing for more. (Fantasy. 14-adult)