Parentless Sylvie accomplishes her goal of joining the royal court but learns all that glitters isn’t gold.
Though raised on the edge of the known world, Sylvie’s convinced her magical powers (she can create illusions) mean she’s nobility. In the Amber City, the Amber Empress, Severine, indulges Sylvie but demands someone sponsor her, a call answered by the ice-cold, handsome, very blond and pale (his hair and skin color are fetishized) Sunder, one of the richest nobles. His sponsorship turns out to be a cruel jest, but Sylvie eventually learns there's more to him than she guessed. The intensity of energy between Sylvie and Sunder fairly crackles though it's unclear from whence their attraction stems. It is strange that it takes Sylvie so long to see the fractures in the beautiful facade of the court, although she is given lots of information and reason to doubt. Though there are a handful of important secondary characters, none is painted with much depth. Impetuous, obstinate, and obtuse, Sylvie doesn't grow much throughout, which may make her difficult to root for. However, the palace intrigues make this narrative gripping and will have readers eagerly anticipating the conclusion as well as anxious to know what happens next. Characters are described with varying skin tones from light through brown, and there is some diversity in sexual orientation.
Riveting but flawed. (Fantasy. 12-18)