The room is small and dark. Row upon row of jars line the shelves, each one sealed with blood-red wax. The seal’s mark is a twisted circle of briar with gleaming, gold-tipped thorns. And in each jar a flicker of forbidden magic dances… beautiful, but deadly.
Sold to the Crown in the aftermath of the Last Great War, Grace Marchant has never known her parents. Now, she trains as an elite soldier tracking down mageborn – those born with an ancient and long-outlawed magic – and destroying them if they don’t surrender their power to the Crown.
The mageborn who submit are collared, then handed over to the King’s cousin and heir: the elusive Bastien Larelwynn, Lord of Thorns, locked away in his shadowy workshop deep inside the castle. What becomes of them is hard to say – the Lord of Thorns keeps his secrets close.
Grace has always fought the voice inside her that questions whether the law is truly just, but when her closest friend is next on Bastien’s list, Grace’s loyalties are tested to the limit. Confronting Bastien – searching his strangely compelling obsidian-black eyes for answers – Grace is shocked to feel herself begin to change, to show the first signs of the wild magic she so fears.
Only the Lord of Thorns has the power to save her and the rest of the mageborn – if he doesn’t destroy them all first…
A dark and addictive fantasy read, perfect for fans of Graceling and Sarah J. Maas.
I’m going to put it out there right from the get go. I loved this book. It was everything I love in a fantasy novel.
The story follows Grace, a Solider tasked with keeping the Mageborn in check. Through one of her investigations she comes into contact with The Lord of Thornes himself. The man with the power to control the Mageborn. Literal sparks begin to fly.
The magic system is totally unique – people born with powers are called Mageborn. They are made to serve and have their powers kept in check, as their powers can run wild and cause them to lose themselves to the magic. However, it becomes clear that these powers have the ability to destroy, not only other people but the Mageborn themselves.
The characters in this book are all brilliantly written. To the point where you are actually not sure who is pulling who’s strings. I do love complicated characters. Grace’s character is excellently handled, she has clear purpose, fiercely loyal and her questioning of what is going on felt like something she would do. Not just done for the plot’s sake.
Bastien, well now, that is a man you want to get to know better. Outwardly very confident but scratch under the surface and you find so much more. As the story evolves, I was completely drawn in to his story. Feeling frustrated with him and sympathetic in equal measure.
I loved the romance in this book. I thought at first, we were going to have a straight enemy to lovers, but it was so much more complicated than that. There is a little bit of crossed wires, not so much that you start to get frustrated. The whole thing evolved very naturally and I found myself very invested in it.
Also, it is worth noting the great representation in this book. There are lots of different world areas and no one seems bothered who is from where. Except if you are Mageborn. Two major side characters are gay, no explanations needed, no one questions it, it just is. I loved that.
If you love World building fantasy then this may not be for you, having said that I don’t think it was needed. Everything that happens takes place in Rathlynn and you discover the city alongside the investigation. There is certainly enough political intrigue to keep you totally involved with Rathlynn itself.
The final part of this book had me reeling, so many revelations made, so many twists and turns. It got its hooks into me and I devoured that last section. The way the book wrapped up worked well, I for one have joined Jessica’s mailing list because I need to find out what happens next, as soon as possible. I am fully invested.
My thanks to Bookouture for my invite onto the blog tour and a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Jessica Thorne saw Star Wars at an impressionable age and life was never the same. She’s loved fantasy, romance and science fiction ever since and spends her time looking for adventure – in the pages of her books.
Sometimes she is Ruth Frances Long and won the European Science Fiction Society Spirit of Dedication Award for Best Author of Children’s Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2015.
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