*I received a free ARC of this novel, with thanks to the author, Bookouture and NetGalley. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: In the name of the crown I arrest you and charge you with the crime of being an unregistered and unsworn mageborn. You will yield up your magic for the greater good, or face certain death…
Raised on the streets, orphan Grace Marchant has always questioned the harsh laws of the Kingdom of Rathlynn. Confronting Prince Bastien Larelwynn – keeper of a dark, golden and deadly magic – was never her plan, but when her closest friend is the next mageborn taken away to the shadowy dungeons, she has no choice but to act.
Deep in the castle, Grace discovers that the Queen of Rathlynn has a devastating plan to use the mageborn’s stolen powers to cement her rule forever. Begging the coldly handsome Prince Bastien to spare her friend’s life, Grace is surprised to see a flicker of compassion in his obsidian black eyes, and the fire in her blood calls out to him… but if he senses the luminous mageborn power secretly unfurling within her like liquid sunlight, it’s only a matter of time before she too will be imprisoned.
But Grace is shocked when Bastien, with a mysterious smile, keeps any knowledge of her powers to himself. Despite his duties to the realm, Bastien pities the mageborn, and the two hatch a plan that could change everything.
As raging fire melts blackest ice, passion and desire quickly quiet her fear and suspicion. But with her golden mageborn light growing stronger every day, Grace must ask herself if she can really trust her former enemy… and with betrayal at every turn, will they save the mageborn and get out alive?
A dark and addictive fantasy read, perfect for fans of Graceling and Sarah J. Maas.
I really enjoyed this swords-and-sorcery fantasy novel and am glad that it is the first in a series.
After a brief foray into the past, we are plunged straight into the action as Grace and her team corner a dangerous magical criminal and, during the course of the unfolding action, we are clued in on wonderful worldbuilding details – the ‘need’ to collar mages, the sinister prince’s role in neutralising magical energy, the fear of another Hollow King rising, and Grace’s own dangerous secret. I was completely hooked from the start!
Grace and Bastien are compelling main characters, if a little too quick to throw all to the wind at the first glimpse of romantic chemistry! The side characters are great too, each with their own quirks and motivations, and the antagonists are creepy and unnerving – manipulative, deceptive, utterly unpredictable.
I would love to see less focus on the romantic relationship between fire and shadow, and more focus on the plot action, because I particularly liked the crime mystery thread that ran right through the fantasy story and fleshed out the political intrigues. It created a nice sense of balance to have Grace continue with her investigatory bent even as she is dragged into a wider arena and a bigger plot.
The story ends on something of a cliffhanger and this is one of those books where you want to have the next in the series on hand because you need to know what is going to happen next. Definitely one to watch for fantasy fans.
She wasn’t collared. It hadn’t been deemed necessary when she came here. There was no magic left in her. Once it had started to rekindle… well, she had guarded that secret. She didn’t want to be collared. Some of the mageborn might say it protected them, helped them channel and control the way they used magic, kept them from being lost in its depths, swept away in the stream, or pulled down into the Deep Dark beneath.
But if that was true, why did so many run? Why did people actively flee Rathlynn instead of doing their duty and submitting?
Why was it even called submitting?
– Jessica Thorne, Mageborn
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