In Walker’s YA fantasy debut, a post-apocalyptic kingdom’s plans for magic center on the abilities of one untrained girl.
Seventeen-year-old Pandora Loxley has always dreamed of becoming a professional ballerina. All seems set for her dreams to become reality, but on the night of her solo debut in the Protectorate’s Royal Ballet Company, everything changes. While performing on stage, Pandora inadvertently manipulates color—a process wherein color is drained from an object and used as powerful magic. In Pandora’s country, known only as the Protectorate, children suspected of holding this power are taken from their families and trained as Guardians of Color in service of the crown. At 17, Pandora is far past the age when such talent is typically revealed, so she is accused of hiding it and is imprisoned. Yet Pandora is surprised by her newfound skills, and when the Protectorate’s Prince Lucas convinces the king to let her be trained, Pandora is shocked to learn that the Protectorate kingdom may be using color for nefarious purposes. Resistance is brewing, however, with Prince Lucas at the forefront. Pandora soon finds herself mired in a deadly conflict that could jeopardize the kingdom. Walker’s tale expertly blends action with exposition and futuristic technology with a Victorian vibe, and Prince Lucas, a playboy with a kind heart, and scrappy, determined Pandora make for a compelling team. Narration alternates between the two; since both are dynamic characters with distinct voices, this technique never becomes confusing. Walker also avoids the common pitfall of rehashing events from more than one perspective. The (quite literally) colorful landscape—animated by an intriguing cast—is complex but well-explained. Masterfully plotted, Walker builds to not one but several unexpected twists in the novel’s final pages.
Readers will no doubt clamor for the next book in this series; a thrilling start from an exciting new talent.