In this YA debut, twins capable of magic hide from a merciless queen until their fate stands revealed.
Twins Cayden and Avery Tiernan live as shepherds in a village called Sanctuary-by-the-Sea. One day, while Cayden enjoys his hobby of carving flutes near a gigantic oak tree, he senses that somebody is spying on him from the bushes. His watchers are Ziona Aspenwood and Sharisha Fernfell, members of the magical Primordial race—whom Queen Alcina Cursetag, in thrall to the Great Goddess, would like to exterminate. Ziona and Sharisha are Seekers, observing the twins because each displays a pulsing blue aura and may well be those prophesied to retake Castle Cathair from the queen. Cayden himself realizes that his flutes are magical in nature because each one he plays draws a different animal species to him, creating a loyal bond in the process. Avery, meanwhile, is an empath (able to sense the feelings of others). When the Queen’s Guard arrives to forcibly recruit young men for her military, Cayden and his best friend, Ryder, spy on their camp. Scouts catch the two, however, and in a fit of panic, Ryder murders one of them. From this moment on, the twins step out of the shadows and begin a campaign to challenge Alcina and the dark forces aiding her. In this rip-roaring series opener, Faw displays a gift for hitting readers with the unexpected. The prose doesn’t wallow in violence, yet certain moments possess an unmatched visceral quality. Ryder’s victim, for example, has “bright red blood” that sprays out “from the gash, pumped...by a heart that did not know it was doomed.” Other familiar fantasy elements, like prophetic scrolls, animal spirits (the thunderbird Mik’maq), and death-dealing wraiths (the Charun), are finely calibrated to serve Faw’s superior pacing. Most impressive is the buildup of Cayden as the rightful ruler of Cathair. People can feel his greatness, and Ziona eventually says, “I am yours; my soul is yours to do with as you please. I do not fear death when you are near.”
The start of a fantasy epic, crafted by sure hands and starring bighearted characters.