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by Rosiee Thor

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-338-67911-3
Publisher: Scholastic

A girl’s scorching desire for power threatens to consume her.

In a 1920s-inspired fantasy city called Candesce lives teenager Ingrid Ellis. Candesce is powered by flare, a substance that permeates all corners of human life, serving as beverage, fuel, weapon, electoral ballot, and even an aesthetic enhancement. Though Ingrid attends the prestigious Ainsley Academy, she’s had to fight for all she has, being the impoverished daughter of a convict and having spent her childhood in an orphanage. Ingrid is dating the handsome and affluent Linden Holt, whose senator father is a candidate in the presidential election. Desperate to elevate her social status, she ingratiates herself with Sen. Holt, becoming a spy for him within his rival candidate’s party. There she meets captivating staffer Alex Castille, who makes her question everything she’s ever wanted. Thor’s sophomore effort refuses to be simply defined, mixing fantasy, romance, and political intrigue. Although it feels a bit uneven in its broad focus and slow worldbuilding, themes of power and inequality are thoughtfully explored through Ingrid’s self-actualization: She is at times infuriatingly ruthless, but this makes her journey all the more intriguing. A central relationship is asexual and includes candid discussion of boundaries. Ingrid and Linden are White; Alex has brown skin, and the supporting cast includes ethnic diversity and queer representation.

An ambitious genre mashup.

(Fantasy. 12-18)