Augurs scry prophecies from patterns, but 17-year-old Wren Silke is uncertain about her own future.
Raised by her gruff grandfather Smith, Wren distrusts her own dark powers of apophenia but yearns to protect her “grove” of fellow augurs in Kilshamble, Ireland. To help the augurs in their secret war against the fearsome, violent judges, Wren reluctantly goes undercover, intending to find the Daragishka Knot and restore the augurs’ power sources. Interning at the judge stronghold of Harkness House, Wren must deflect the avid attention of Calista Harkness; avoid Calista’s nephew, predatory bully David; and struggle with her crush on brooding bruiser Tarc. Wren’s visible differences—she is half-white, half-other, dark-haired and brown-skinned, courtesy of an absent, perhaps Indian father—are less about ethnic identity and more symbolic. Wren suffers from “Chosen One” syndrome—i.e., inexplicable allure, checklistlike prophecy, pivotal role in mythic battle—but is oddly passive; after Wren experiences Betrayal and Sacrifice, Surrender (the third element of the story surrounding the Knot) seems like an inevitability rather than a choice. Watson (The Cutting Room, 2013, etc.) excels at the quotidian details, but the fantastic elements are ill-explained and impressionistic: The Knot is a confusing MacGuffin, the magical terminology clunky, and the mythology contradictory.
Lush, if meandering and muddled; good for fans of Maggie Stiefvater and Holly Black. (Fantasy. 14-18)