In this novel, a young princess begins training to wield magic in a land where it’s forbidden.
King Lucien Ostragorion and Queen Evelyn rule the Golden Peaks, a realm of endless summer. They have three children: Edward, 23; Ariella, 18; and Charles, 17. It’s a time of tranquility, for the hordes of King Jasteroth have been defeated and magic is forbidden. One day, Evelyn ventures from the castle to the market, where she meets the enigmatic Traveling Man. He offers her the Draught of the Century, a potion enabling the user to live invincibly for 100 years. He urges her home with the vial because the Black Magic Sorcerers, another once-vanquished threat, have returned. The queen rushes off with her contraband through a downpour but once home, finds herself dry. Lucien, meanwhile, hires a tutor for Ariella. She’s to train 10 hours a day with Austin Alvar. She hates this idea—until she meets the man. He’s dark-haired, handsome, and treats her with none of the brusque condescension of her father. The surprises truly begin when lessons on using her Inner Eye reveal that Ariella is a potent sorceress in her own right. Opening a new fantasy series, Wyllie (It’s Too Late, 2018) doles out character, magic, and intrigue in perfect measure. She builds a sinister, subtle narrative on the framework of Evelyn growing ill after receiving the potion, with Lucien becoming abusive toward Ariella as the apparent fallout. The princess soon realizes that “her lessons with Austin had been her escape, her safe place.” Wyllie proves an excellent keeper of secrets, like the state of the queen, who’s off-page until readers encounter an “undead figure” with “matted hair, a sagging mouth, drooping eyes, and sallow skin.” Further surprises await in the realm of The Community: Austin’s twin sister, Emily, and Ariella’s growing powers over ice. A few unanswered questions can wait until future volumes.
A delectably layered fantasy installment by an author in no rush to reveal her series’ darkest secrets.