by Alexandra Bracken
Plot Summary:The day the rains came was like any other, blistering air coating the canyon in a heavy stillness....
Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country - and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. But North has secrets - about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North's sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?
Through a journey that spans a country, magic and hard-won romance are woven together with precision and brilliant design by a first-time novelist.
Review:I so loved Alexandra Bracken's second novel The Darkest Minds, that I was eager to read her first novel and her take on young adult fantasy. This is a standalone tale (finally!) and it has all the elements of a good fantasy story - a wizard, a quest and a journey with romance and magic sprinkled throughout. The story moves quickly and kept my interest throughout (especially with the mysteriously troubled Wayland North) and I found the story very enjoyable.
As I said before the plot does move quickly, and at times the thought processes of the characters can be a little unclear in my opinion as they made decisions or came to conclusions that did't always feel well explained. The magic elements and the world-building are just enough to get into the fantasy aspect, but I think the characters are the best part of this story. Sydelle is fiery and emotional and Wayland masks his worries with a carefree demeanor and it was interesting to read them getting to know and admire each other. I loved how protective they are of each other and how so many times they tried to make sacrifices for the other but it is barely appreciated. Their relationship really drives the narrative forward, especially when it comes to certain secrets that made for pretty shocking reveals towards the end.
The twists and turns of the story and the slowly built romance made this a wonderful read for me, and I loved how well the author tied up each character's story. This is a lovely book with a great pace and sympathetic, likable characters.