In this dystopian debut, a woman with magical abilities longs to escape the influence of her scientist father, who wants to guide humanity’s evolution.
During the War of 2018, the Magical Bond, people gifted with telekinesis and other skills, decimated the Common Blood, who lacked special powers. Now, in 2031, the ultrarich enjoy New York’s high life while destitute masses huddle in the shadows. Across the East River is Research Island. Dr. Daniel Hunter runs the Institute for Scientific Understanding of Magic, where he hopes to reverse the gradual diminishing of magical genes within the populace. One night, Ebony, his daughter, is enjoying the solitude of the island’s lighthouse. She can teleport objects, but she’s also beamed herself there, a facet of her power that she keeps secret. When Ebony sees a transport vessel offload people in shackles, little does she realize that a quartet of covert agents from the Order of Peace has arrived. The group—Connor Vance, Katrina Hicks, Ness Kent, and Lina Sharp—plans to assassinate the Magical Bond who’ve been enhanced by Daniel’s work. They know the truth behind the institute that Ebony doesn’t dare acknowledge—that the demanding Daniel doesn’t want to build genetic bridges with the Common Blood. He wishes to obliterate them. In her novel, Bochnak taps into the fears Americans face in 2018 (like nuclear war) to jump-start a series that blends dystopian sci-fi and horror. A quarter of New York City, for example, is called the Levels after being bombed flat. The magic that characters use is less like that found in the Harry Potter series and more like the superpowers in the X-Men comics. Ebony is a riveting heroine who loves reading and her best friend, Maggy. Ebony’s also hopeful that her cruel father might someday stop treating her like an experiment. She describes a Jane Austen novel with blunt lyricism, thinking: “It was a crazy world about a woman fighting love. There was no magic, no technology, and loving parents. A world she could not relate to.” Bochnak unspools a disturbing plot slowly, for Daniel has much to hide, and even characters who die don’t leave the story too quickly.
A studiously chilling post-apocalyptic tale.