Posts Tagged 'magic'

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  398

There is an island that is almost totally cut off from the rest of the world where a set of triplets are born every generation.  The queen immediately knows what power each of the girls will have and when they are a few years old they are separated so that they can hone their craft.  When they come of age they must compete in a bizarre set of rituals in which only the last one alive can become the next queen.  Katherine is a poisoner, but she while she has become adept at administering poisons she has not yet become immune to them herself.  Arsinoe, the naturalist, has not yet found her familiar, which is like her animal soul mate, but she has been very happy growing up alongside her best friend, Jules, who is a very talented naturalist.  Finally, Mirabella, the elementalist, is very gifted and can easily manipulate water and fire.  It is expected she will easily take the crown over her weaker sisters, but once the games begin everyone has a few surprises in store for the waiting spectators.  Who will end up with the crown?  Whom can the sisters really trust in this process?  Who will get hurt along the way?

This series has received a lot of attention from my students, but it did take me awhile to get into the story and the characters.  Once I did become immersed in the characters I not only wanted to finish the first one right away but wanted to read the second one as well.  It’s definitely a unique story that does not rely on plot details seen in other fantasy series.  There is still a lot that needs to be revealed about these characters, their motivations, and the ultimate outcome which will keep readers engaged for a long time to come.

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Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  403

Anna was born into an elite Luminate British family, which means her family has access to magic, which is strictly restricted from anyone not in the Luminates.  There is an uprising building up to break the binding spell that restricts magic away from anyone considered unworthy and Anna is shocked to learn her own father is a sympathizer.  He believes the binding is in place merely to keep the wealthy in power and not to protect those who simply do not know how to use magic and could hurt themselves or someone else.  When Anna comes of age, however, her ceremony to practice magic goes poorly and she is believed to be barren, which means she’ll never really be accepted by the Luminates or those outside the Luminates.  One power she does seem to have is to break other people’s spells, which is why her family forbid her from coming to her sister’s coming out party.  She sneaks in anyway and accidentally ruins her sister’s coming out.  Partly as punishment, partly as protection from those who wish to study Anna’s unusual capability of breaking other people’s spells, she is sent away with her grandmother to Hungary.  Upon arrival, Anna meets some interesting people and begins to see that those who possess magical tendencies but at outside the Luminates are treated abominably in order to keep them in their place.  She begins to wonder if she should use her one power to break the binding so that magic would be available to anyone who wishes to use it.  Is she powerful enough?  Would it cause chaos and catastrophe like the Luminates predict?

Fans of fantasy stories will enjoy this title.  The truth about Anna’s condition eventually comes out, but it may confuse some younger readers.  The story meanders a bit when Anna first goes to Hungary, but once the new characters are properly introduced the story picks up again for a satisfying ending.  Recommended for students who have already found other fantasy series they enjoy.

Striking Terror by Denis Lipman

striking-terror

Genre:  Mystery/Adventure

# of Pages:  310

The author of this book, Denis Lipman, is a former magician and therefore has the tools to create a unique and exciting story for young adults.  It’s about a young magician named Micah who is sent to live in Israel and ends up unknowingly befriending a terrorist, Shireen.  When Shireen begins to rethink her plans both she and Micah are forced to go on the run and use Micah’s techniques of illusion to escape capture.  All of this action builds to a very exciting and satisfying ending.

This story describes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a way that no other young adult book does, which makes it interesting to young readers who do not know much about this event.  At the same time, the use of magic and illusion is fun and fresh and engages reluctant readers right away.  The inclusion of magic in the plot is done so in a completely believable and understandable way, which goes toward Lipman’s experience with magic and illusion.  Highly recommended for students who enjoy a lot of action and plot development.

Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton

seeker

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages: 429

RAC:  Yes

John, Quin, and Shinobu have been training together for years in order to one day take their oath and become Seekers.  When the final test comes, however, John stumbles and is cast out by the master Briac.  He is devastated at being kept from what he sees as his birthright and concocts a plan to get what he believes is rightfully his.  Meanwhile, Quin and Shinobu take the oath but are horrified to learn what becoming a Seeker actually entails.  When John and his soldiers arrive on the estate to destroy everything on it, Quin and Shinobu must make some fateful decisions about their future as Seekers.  Can they abandon their oath and the training they have spent their whole lives learning?  Will John ever be able to let his quest for justice for his ancestors go?

This fantasy story introduces three very interesting main characters as well as supporting characters.  The history of the Seekers is engaging, but there is still a lot to learn about the past and how it came to shape the present they are dealing with now.  Despite the length it doesn’t feel like the story develops as much as it should in this first installment and leaves quite a bit unanswered.  Die hard fantasy fans will enjoy this series.

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

youngelites

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  355

RAC:  Yes

Adelina survived a terrible “blood fever” that killed many throughout the land she lives in with her father, mother, and sister.  Her mother, in fact, does not survive the fever.  Adelina is not left unscathed and loses an eye in the process of fighting the terrible disease.  Her father now views her as tainted and damaged.  He blames her for his business losing money and him not being able to sell her off to a rich husband.  Upon overhearing that he plans to instead sell her to a dishonest man looking for a young mistress she decides to flee, but her father catches her and in her anger she brings forth a power she did not know she possessed.  He is trampled and killed in the process.  Adelina is sentenced to death, but the famous and yet elusive “young elites” come and save her.  The “young elites” are made up of scarred survivors of the blood fever who have also acquired special powers and skills.  They agree to train Adelina in her new found skills, but if she fails to learn to control them they will have to dispose of her.  Does Adelina have what it takes to be a “young elite.”

By the same author as the Legend series, this series will interest fans of fantasy fiction such as Rick Riordan and James Dashner.  The story itself follows a similar plot progression as others we have seen, but remains unique enough that the reader will care what happens to Adelina and her sister.  The characters are well written, but their motivations and actions are sometimes unclear.  The ending has a proper buildup and anticipation and comes through with excess action and a dramatic conclusion.  This is a solid beginning to an interesting new series.

Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

iron trial

Genre:  Fantasy

# of pages:  295

RAC:  Yes

Callum Hunt has been told his entire life that he will not be attending the Magisterium, which is the magic school both of his parents attended.  His father firmly believes it brought them only bad things and the tragic death of Callum’s mother.  When Callum gets the invitation for the admittance test he brings nothing with him as he has no intention of going with the Masters to the Magisterium at the end of the trial.  He does everything in his power to fail this test and succeeds remarkably well, which is why he is so surprised when the greatest master chooses him to mentor along with two other students.  Callum’s father refuses to let him go, but is overruled and Callum is forced to go to the school he has been told his entire life will only lead to his downfall.  Can he succeed even if his father thinks it’s impossible?  Why was he chosen if he performed so poorly on the test?  Will this be the first place he has ever truly fit in?

This is the first in a five book series by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, two very popular fantasy authors.  It will inevitably lead to comparisons with Harry Potter, but there are enough differences to intrigue Harry Potter fans.  Callum’s character is flawed and in no way a real hero to the story, but yet throughout the story he steps up when his friends need him even knowing he very well could fail and make things worse.  There are many unanswered questions that will leave readers wanting more.  Recommended for struggling readers who enjoy fantasy.

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

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Genre:  Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  298

RAC:  Yes

Iowa High School Award Winner 2013-2014

In this prequel to Frankenstein, Victor desperately tries to find a cure for his twin, Konrad, when he mysteriously falls ill.  They had always had a spirited rivalry in everything in life, including their mutual interest in the young girl who lives with their family, but despite all the competition Victor simply cannot imagine life without Konrad.  He decides to seek the help of an eccentric scientist in the area who believes he can find the Elixir of Life.  There are many tasks to complete in order to acquire the ingredients for this mixture and Victor must make many difficult decisions in order to try and save his brother.  What is Victor willing to give up in order to save Konrad?

The tasks Victor must complete in order to gather the materials for Konrad’s cure are exciting, dangerous, and in many cases frightening.  Readers will enjoy the journey as Victor tries to save his brother, while also harboring feelings for Konrad’s girlfriend.  The ending is exciting and leads into a sequel.  This title is a hard sell for students who do not like historical fiction, but once they start it they find it is a wild adventure they want to take.