*I received a free ARC of this book. My decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Why is magic forbidden in Camelot?
The king decrees it to be so, but are kings always right?
Morgana isn’t sure any more.
Morgana Le Fay is a feared legend, but the truth is a different matter.
Torn from her home after her father’s death, a young Morgana is thrust into life as a ward of the King of Albion, the respected and ruthless Uther Pendragon.
As court life in Camelot overwhelms her, Morgana fights to regain her independence and find her place, but where is that? Her father is dead, she has no home, and she cannot think of anything worse than seeing the insufferably arrogant Prince Arthur every day.
Magic may be the answer, for it may give her the freedom to make her own choices and find a new belonging. However, as Morgana struggles to untangle the truth about magic, the alluring sorceress Morgause, and the very king himself, all three long feared by many in Camelot, she finds herself drowning in questions with no answers.
Can Morgana find the truth, and the key to her powers?
Before I start my review, I just want to note that the ebook of this novel has all sorts of cool special features, which I am utterly unable to access as my Kindle is practically Arthurian itself! It sounds amazing though, so I thought I’d share the blurb for you here:
Enjoy the added features of this special edition, which allow you to enjoy bonus content right from your reading device. See bonus character artwork. Listen to a siren’s song. Experience behind the scenes like never before, thanks to Augmented Reality technology. Immersive Fantasy™; bringing fantasy worlds to life.
As it is, I will have to stick to reviewing old-school style, as my technology is not so much ‘Augumented Reality’ as it is ‘fancy-looking rock’. Luckily it turns out that Magic Awakened is my favourite of all the Meg Cowley books I have reviewed so far (see the links at the end), even without the enhancements!
The story is set in Arthurian Britain and tells the tale of how a young Morgana (Morgan Le Fey) first came to Camelot, to Uther’s guardianship, and to her magical powers.
Whilst the characters and the general plot direction will be very familiar to any fans of Malory, the BBC series Arthur etc, the focus on Morgana shifts the story to a different perspective and adds a fresh viewpoint that makes the story new and exciting. Seeing Morgana’s motivation through fresh eyes allows the reader to understand and empathise with her actions; even if we believe them to be ultimately misguided.
It is clear that Morgana’s decision-making is based on immature logic and partial knowledge of events, but what is fascinating is that the reader is also left in ambiguity as to which direction she ought to go. As Morgana is pulled between the conflicting loyalties to Morgause and Uther, in their long-standing dispute, the reader is also unsure as to which of them is ‘right’, and also which, if either, of them has Morgana’s wellbeing in mind rather than just their own stake in her fate.
In Morgana we have a strong, female lead who is thoroughly isolated and suppressed (often with kindness and good intentions). She longs to be wild and free, similar to Merida in Disney’s Brave, but is smothered by the opulent life she has been gifted, her despised and dangerous magical abilities, and the complete lack of anyone she can fully trust.
Even Emrys, who initially seems to be the traditional loyal companion and wise advisor turns out to be shrouded in secrets and mystery, so Morgana truly has no one but herself to guide her through what are clearly deep and dangerous times for an innocent young sorceress.
I am really excited for this series, and hope it will be a long-running one. I can thoroughly recommend this novel to any adult or YA readers who are fans of legends and myths told with a twist on tradition.
The cry was taken up by all around me, until I stood in a circle of people warding against me and spitting at my feet. They pressed closer as I moved this way and that, unable to escape.
“No! I’m not a witch. Please, where are my family?” I pushed forward again, but a thick hand tightened like a snare on my arm and flung me back into the middle of the narrowing circle as voices screaming insults crescendoed around me.
For a moment, dizziness overcame me and it was as if I stood in another time, in the same place. Different people surrounded me, yet they flung the same insults and curses at me. An instant later, the vision had faded and the noise and smells rushed on my senses once more.
– Meg Cowley, Magic Awakened
If urban action-fantasy is more your thing, then try my reviews of the ongoing Relic Guardian series that Meg co-authors with Victoria DeLuis on the following links: Book 1 + Novella 2.5, Book 2, Book 3.