Eight teens with magical powers must slay an ancient god.
Seventeen-year-old Larkin and her brother, Gallan, break their backs mining for luminite, the mineral that gilds Demura Isle’s capital and suppresses the magic of marginalized Empaths like Larkin and her family, who are able to harness the emotions of those around them to make powerful, forbidden magic. But Larkin is resistant to luminite, and she’s arrested after using her magic to steal from a prejudiced shop owner. Queen Melay blames the ancient god Otheil Kyran for recent disappearances outside the city, and she sends Larkin and seven others to kill him. The dying starts soon after descending into the Reach, a vast cave infested with murderous creatures and the walking dead. Readers who like gobs of gore with their quests will be thrilled. De facto leader Larkin forms a bond with the enigmatic Amias, and they soon discover the real reason they were chosen for this mission. Debut author Harian has a gift for atmosphere, but this blood-soaked, overstuffed tale mostly consists of a series of episodic set pieces, giving the feel of a video game rather than a fully cohesive story. A rushed romance and underdeveloped characters don’t help. Larkin has olive skin, and a variety of other skin tones can be found among the Empaths and the supporting cast.
A chaotic subterranean adventure that doesn’t quite come together. (Horror. 14-18)