A teenage girl ashamed of her lack of magic must step up when she discovers evil at work in her kingdom.
Privileged Arrah has never wanted for anything—except magic. Though she comes from powerful magical lineages on both her parents’ sides, when she turns 16 without developing any gifts, she must finally admit she won’t be blessed with magic. Heartbroken, Arrah throws herself into discovering who’s behind the recent child abductions in her kingdom. The magic needed to accomplish such a task has a high cost, and her discovery of the culprit proves to be a devastating revelation. In Arrah’s West African–based world, there are orishas as well as other gods and demons, and orishas are able to converse directly with humans. Arrah, aided by her friends (including love interest Rudjek), must mine hitherto unknown depths in herself in order to stop the ascension of the Demon King, who supposedly was vanquished by the orishas long ago. Though the pace is sometimes slow and the page count perhaps higher than needed, Arrah’s a compelling heroine, relatable in her fallibility, and her story is intriguing. Most characters are black; Rudjek is biracial (his light-skinned mother and a handful of other characters hail from the north).
An imperfect but promising series opener. (Fantasy. 12-18)