An award-winning adult romance author’s debut for teens bids fair to be the next big epic fantasy success.
Iolanthe Seabourne’s quiet life as an elemental mage of middling power explodes when she summons lightning from the sky. Suddenly the 16-year-old is on the run from villainous Inquisitors. That same lightning bolt galvanizes the carefully nurtured schemes of Titus, the teenage figurehead prince, to free his realm from domination by Atlantis. The only problem is that the great mage whom seers foretold Titus will sacrifice his life to protect was supposed to be a boy….Multiple tropes—of heroic quest, gaslamp fantasy, fractured fairy tale, school story and doomed romance—are gracefully braided into a hefty but ravishing narrative. In its two alternating viewpoints, three worlds and four distinct magical systems are all masterfully delineated through delicate prose and subtle characterization. Iolanthe may be excessively perfect—beautiful and powerful and brilliant—but her prickly independence and wry self-awareness give her depth; Titus’ status, talent and stunning magnificence is less compelling than his boyish vulnerability and tortured determination. Too often in fantasy, when prophecies are both accurate and specific, characters can seem mere puppets of fate. Here, the conflagrant climax is true to their choices, with a satisfying happy-for-now resolution that whets delicious anticipation for inevitable sequels.
It caters to very specific tastes, but teens and adults in the target audience will devour it. (Fantasy. 12 & up)