Megalomaniac Ramius King is poised to conquer the world, with only a broken magician, a traumatized fortuneteller and two teenagers standing in his way.
Seventeen-year-old Kyle Adams doesn’t understand a lot of things: why he dreams of fighting legions of soldiers with magical weapons, why he never fits in, why he has been wrenched from his foster home in Chicago and sent to this backwoods burgh. But he’s happy to discover an affinity with classmate Lily Goodshepherd, who has her own secret—she can perform magic. Across town, Ramius King, the “Tall Man,” has turned an abandoned mill into a monster factory as part of his quest to implant magical skills in his minions, as opposed to relying on his previous tactic of finding humans with organic powers and turning them toward his nefarious ends. In Miami, Rosa Sanchez wakes from a premonitory dream of a mugging and embarks on a path that will lead her to Michael Galladin, a traumatized Guardian of Magic who may be the only obstacle to King’s goal of world domination, especially since King murdered every other Guardian in the world. Fortunately, the Guardians managed to find Kyle and begin his magical path. Andrews’ debut fantasy thriller gets off to a slow start, switching among three plot threads until gathering the protagonists in an obscure northern Michigan town for an explosive climax. The book has a few weaknesses—several characters, like the high school principal and the sinister assassin, are given too much back story for their ultimate importance, and there’s too much explanation of characters’ emotions and reactions instead of letting the actions speak for themselves. Furthermore, the nature of magic in this world is unsatisfyingly vague, as are King’s motives and plans in his unoriginal pursuit of world domination. In many ways, Mason Stone, King’s second-in-command, is the most compelling character in the novel, with his mixed loyalties in shades of gray.
A few quibbles, but nonetheless an enjoyable read with the potential for an even better sequel.