The affecting conclusion to the Young Elites trilogy relishes ardent emotion but is never mawkish.
Adelina Amouteru, once a hated malfetto, is now fast becoming the queen of the known world. Her Kenettran army has conquered Domacca, northern Tamoura, and finally Dumor. Inquisitors enforce her harsh rule, and the tables have been turned: survivors of the blood fever who were tortured and burned as malfettos under the old powers are known as those marked by the gods and have free rein to maltreat their former tormentors. Even Adelina's beloved, Magiano, thinks she's become too cruel, but invisible voices plague Adelina, whispering that her closest allies are plotting with her enemies. The superpowered Young Elites are all struggling with powers gone awry; invulnerable Teren has wounds that will not heal, and storm-bringer Sergio is endlessly thirsty. There is an imbalance in the world, and it can only be fixed if the Young Elites work together. The multinational characters are primarily olive- or brown-skinned, with a few pale Beldish redheads scattered throughout; Adelina seems to see brown-skinned Magiano as exotic, with his "mess of long braids" and "smile full of white teeth." The primary romantic pairing is between Adelina and Magiano, but among the background liasons, one potential same-sex relationship ends in tragedy and another in happiness.
Like many a classic antihero's, Adelina's trajectory is both sobering and satisfying. (Fantasy. 13 & up)