Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice.
She will reign.
As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer — the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.
When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.
But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder — and more peril — than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever
I read this book as part of and r/Fantasy book club for the month and it was a surprisingly fun adventure read. I went into with kind of middle of the road expectations based on a few comments I had seen from people who hadn’t liked it and so it definitely exceeded those expectations.
The story has a largely nautical setting with an island kingdom. Nautical settings are my jam, so we’re already starting on a good note. I also thought the set up of the kingdom was interesting with each island practicing a different type of magic. It felt like the kind of thing I’d see in dystopian settings as opposed to fantasy setting and I really liked seeing it here. The magic system I also found to be fun. They reminded me a little of how bending works in Avatar which is one of my favorite shows so definitely a positive.
I also thought that while the story had a little bit of a slow start, it ended up being a fun adventure of a read. Our gang of main characters started off running away on a boat and we follow them as they bounce from island to island gathering the help they need for their goals. Once this adventuring started, I was very drawn into the story and probably read most of the book over the course of one day.
I also ended up liking the characters more as the story moved on. Initially I was not a huge fan of Amora as my initial impression of her was mainly as a very pompous girl. But as we followed her adventures and we saw her caring side come out I started to appreciate her characterization. Her pompous attitude came about as a matter of circumstance of being raised as an incredibly sheltered heir to the throne and being told that the people will bow to her and love her, so of course that’s what she expects from them. Her caring side serves to me to point towards the basis she has to turn into a good and caring queen once given the time to mature. Ferrick also initially struck me as too much of a cookie cutter good boy to really like at first, but I’ve started to come around on him and I hope to see more of his development in the second book.
My second criticism of this book, after the somewhat slow start, is the ending. While I was totally fine with where the book ended I thought getting there was a tad rushed. The ending of this book was how I predicted book 2 to end, especially as we got closer to the end and it felt as if we were running out of time to wrap up this book the way it did. So this totally changes my expectations of what the second book will be about.
The slow beginning and quick ending had me wavering between 4 or 5 stars for this book so I’d give it a 4.5/5 stars so I don’t have to decide