Release date: March 28th 2017
Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.
Her life might well be over.
In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.
As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.
I went into this book expecting a lot of action and magic and rebellion, and it was all there, but I wasn’t expecting the connection to the history of the rebellion in Hungary and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s not a part of history I know a lot about and it was altered to fit the magical storyline but I still found it interesting and appreciated the author’s note explaining more about the history.
Anna was a character I think I could relate to if I was ever in her position. She was a middle child who was mostly ignored due to having no magic. She always felt like she was a disappointment to her mother and accidentally ruining her sister’s spell during her debut just added to that feeling. She loved her family even though she felt like an outsider as the only non-magical member and she really just wanted to make her parents proud. Being sent away to Hungary with her Grandmama was difficult but it gave her a chance to grow as an independent person and learn more about both herself and the truth about the magical society.
There were so many supporting characters to love. Some had bigger roles than others, like Noemi and Matyas who were Anna’s cousins, or Gabor who was a love interest. I liked that even though she was far away from them, her family still played a huge role in Anna’s thoughts. She was often thinking of what her father would want her to do versus what her mother would want. I enjoyed a lot of the interactions between the characters, from the playfulness Matyas’ would show toward Anna, to the slower way Noemi took to warm to her, to Gabor teaching her his people’s magic.
The magical society, the idea of Binding and breaking it, the way it was ruled with magically families having more power than those born without, it was all complicated and took a while to explain. It made the book a slow read because I didn’t want to skim through and miss some vital information. It was interesting, just not something I would want to skim. I have seen the rebellion part of this book compared to Les Mis and I will admit, when the students talking about revolution at the cafe were introduced that was exactly where my mind went. I didn’t find it too similar other than the students leading a rebellion.
This book did a great job of setting up the trilogy and I look forward to seeing how the rest turns out.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.