The gothic setting is rich in detail: magical bureaucracy and legality, Lithuanian spell words, peculiar artifacts, taciturn ghosts. It creates a compelling backdrop for Daniel’s development, in the process emphasizing his loneliness and isolation. His parents didn’t teach him many things they should have, his undead grandmother is cryptic, and he struggles to catch up with what the rest of witchkind already knows, all while developing control of immense magics. Romance, friendship, and family are absent from his life; even among his fellow adherents, Daniel stands alone.
Jones does an admirable job of describing the perils and pitfalls of power in this captivating story. At one point, Daniel considers using his abilities to end an argument, only to reflect that conflict can have a purpose and should be resolved naturally. The true meaning of ending is explored and expounded, stressing the importance of free thinking through viewing the challenges and experiences of the main characters. These ruminations, and the sections detailing Daniel’s education, are at times exposition-heavy, but this work is generally best suited to readers who enjoy slow immersion in rich prose. Adult and teenage fans of thoughtful fantasy will love exploring this beautifully described world of arcane powers.
Takeaway: This meditative look at power will engage readers who like their fantasy with a side of philosophy.
Great for fans of Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+
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