An old evil threatens to rise from the depths of the warded city…
Sixteen-year-old Marianne lives a simple life as a healer in the Link, looking after her younger brother since their parents’ exile. Little does she know how everything will change after attending the blessing in the city of Obanac. After her brother is wrongfully imprisoned, Marianne seeks his release from Crawford Reign, the Lord of Obanac. But she’s faced with an impossible choice—the lord wants her in exchange. To save her brother she turns to the daring outlaw Robbie and his friends for help. Along with the help of Theo, the holy man’s son, a daring rescue soon uncovers rumors of an old sorcerer who may still live and whispers of the phantom’s curse—an evil that requires a host and seeks to destroy the world—threatening to resurface.
With the threat of an old evil rising in Obanac and the attacks of the Black Riders throughout the realm, nowhere seems safe. To save the people of the land and everyone she cares about, Marianne must unlock the secret to who she really is and embrace the mage magic that stirs within her.
The premise of this story is a simple one: fighting the forces of a terrible evil with good magic, the importance of family/ community and mentions of the city folk and the lower towns, giving a privileged and underprivileged vibe too.
At the beginning, the story revolves around two siblings Marian, (who is on the cusp of turning 16 and a healer,) and Newt, (her younger brother,) who live in the lower towns of Obanac.
There are some lovely passages of descriptive writing which I really enjoyed.
After ‘the blessing,’ which happens when children turn 16, Newt (who is accompanying Marianne,) is taken away for allegedly stealing an apple. The protective love that Marianne (Maz,) feels for her younger brother is clear and well portrayed. Maz is distraught and sets out to rescue her brother from captivity.
The love interest in the story, Robbie reveals that the wicked lord – Crawford, ‘sacrifices young girls for dark magic.’
Crawford has his secrets and his plans involving Marianne. Revelations follow and a battle ensues between good and evil.
Evil in the form of.. Crawford, Cassius, the phantam, as well as an undead, unholy army of black riders.
At one point Cassius uses a purple crystal to raise the phantam. There are other magic scenes, one mentions an orange orb. I would have liked a bit more explanation of some aspects of the story, such as the magic system and more development of the growing ‘love’ expressed between Robbie and Marianne.
But the relationships between Marianne, and her wee band of helpers: Xander, Eli, Fergus and Robbie are entertaining to read. Also, I enjoyed the feisty character of Marianne!
And the scene in which Crawford is ‘set free,’ allows the reader to be more sympathetic to the bad guy!
So overall an enjoyable, quick read, perhaps more suited to middle grade, or younger YA. And recommended for those who like short, entertaining stories with a determined female protagonist.
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