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Description Summary | An iconic retelling with an amazing magical system and a powerful historical context narrative woven through. Urban fantasy at its finest.
Book Summary | (Skip to Review)
Briana Mathews should feel blessed, grateful even. She’s one of the brightest students to get enrolled in Carolina’s Early Program; basically an advanced academic program for smart kids in a prestigious university.
In truth, Briana is grieving over her mother’s sudden death. And their last encounter is not exactly a sweet memory so compounded with shame Briana is on the verge of an abyss.
That is until she comes into contact with something unimaginable, something…otherworldly. Apparently magic exists, supernatural beings exists, and now Briana’s world is turned upside down (again).
But while investigating these occurrences, it is also apparent that this magic is tied to her mother’s accident. And now Briana is not sure what to believe except:
- Once upon a time her mother did everything she could to keep Briana out of this place.
- There is more to her mother’s “accident”.
- Something is very sinister is going on at Carolina.
This book is this year’s biggest surprise read for me. I did not expect to enjoy this as much as I did. I’m not really a fan of urban fantasy when it comes to the fantasy genre, I prefer high fantasy because it is sort of an escapism to me and I don’t really want to be reminded of the “real world”. Secondly, King Arthur’s myth is not among my favorites what can I say, I’m a romantic at heart (fairy tales?) or a complete morbid person (Dracula, Frankenstein?).
This was a book I gave myself a month to finish through. I read it in during the weekend. This was how good this book was.
Where do I even begin!? The multiple narratives and contexts we got woven into this retelling is phenomenal, I loved how it’s not just taking the same myth and applying it to a modern setting and done that’s it. Deonn manages to include other forms of magic, mediums, root magic, and other beliefs rooted in African American culture. I got so excited just exploring more of these types of magic.
Speaking of which how did she manage to create not one but two magic systems and still succeed in differentiating them apart for the reader, I’ll never know but I bet it takes another level of writing mastery.
The first two chapters was okay but then so many things happen yet I didn’t feel as if it was that fast paced. This was heavily plot based but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have any character development. Here’s the thing, every character develops in a way not that is not good or evil but like many young adults who screw up yet try to do things with a good conscious. I appreciate the morally grey aspects in Briana and Sel, even Nick.
Story | Sub-Point (Themes)
An interesting theme that is explored is ancestry and it’s power in defining the identity of a person yet at the same time stripping them from their own. On one end, many would like to detach themselves from their family ancestry because it means finding their own person, their own voice. And if you’re reminded by how necessary it is to follow in their footsteps time and time again, it is painful and exhausting really.
One the other end, ancestry are a ground root. It stabilizes you, and as much as people don’t really notice, there is power in a name, and there is power in a family that you know you can lean back to (even if it’s just in history or scrolled down in a family tree). This sense of unity and not being alone in the world makes you feel safe and daresay alive, because here you are a breathing history of all of the people before you and you’ll be written down after you die. Remembered and loved. There is comfort in that I think.
I have immensely enjoyed Deonn’s writing, despite the many pages (and the tiny font!) I never felt the book dragged on. On the contrary just thinking about it gives me a buzz of energy, I’m so ready for the next book!
I loved Briana and it was both saddening and wonderful to hear her inner monologue. It gave a lot of context on the encounters she’s faced and the feelings of grief she keeps bottled up inside. I was continuously rooting for her and some of her banter was downright brilliant. What a great YA heroine!
Do I recommend? Yes!
For anyone who read this, what do you guys think of Nick and Sel? (please right Spoiler so other readers are warned!)