Enjoyable fantasy suitable for young adult audience
Four young adults travel by boat, by camel and on foot, to evade the Curse, a winged beast that kills users of forbidden magic and those who use magic outside the rules of ‘the Church’, which is composed of four orders of Elementals.
I very much liked the notion of Elemental magic. Niri’s power over water is used imaginatively in the various adventures throughout the journey, and control of air makes for an exciting battle versus the Curse. The story is well-developed and I was genuinely interested in what would happen next. The fantasy world is easy to visualise, with landscapes common to the genre, ranging from tree-dwellings to desert. There are often details that lift the description above the usual; the four temples are well-created and struck me as different.
Details of the sea journeys are especially convincing and you get the feeling that this author really knows about ships and sailing. Of course it helps the journey to have a naiad, Niri, changing the tide from time to time.
The main characters are under 20 (if you don’t count the tree-being Darag, who is considered young in his own community) and they are full of angst over boyfriend/girlfriend possibilities and over brother/sister arguments and little jealousies. Romance is innocent and starry-eyed, although the cultural difficulties of falling in love with a tree-person add some welcome dilemmas. I think a young adult reader would identify more with these emotions than I did; I find brother Ty’s possessive attitude to sister Lavinia highly irritating. There are times when I would like to remind the group that they are on a mission and that they are wasting time on petty sulks – but that is a reflection on my jaded 57 years.
I do think there are way too many significant looks and gestures, and that cutting three-quarters of these out completely would improve the pace without losing any of the emotion. The reader doesn’t need every blink and hand movement described.
(reviewed 43 days after purchase)