Maria V. Snyder
This is Snyder’s darkest book yet. The distrust and betrayal sown throughout it makes for a bleak tale, but it doesn’t make for a boring one. I read this story in record time. Every time I sat down with the book, I’d look up and another hundred pages would be gone. Once again, Snyder makes Opal so very relatable and human by plaguing her with self-doubt and a certain amount of self-pity and let’s be honest, who hasn’t felt those two emotions at some point in their life? The men of the story are just as compelling, but it’s Opal who will make you turn the pages. The story itself is a fast paced, gut clenching tale of action and adventure and I loved every minute of it.
Student glass magician Opal Cowan’s newfound ability to steal a magician’s powers makes her too powerful. Ordered to house arrest by the Council, Opal dares defy them, traveling to the Moon Clan’s lands in search of Ulrick, the man she thinks she loves. Thinks because she is sure another man—now her prisoner—has switched souls with Ulrick.
In hostile territory, without proof or allies, Opal isn’t sure whom to trust. She can’t forget Kade, the handsome Stormdancer who doesn’t want to let her get close. And now everyone is after Opal’s special powers for their own deadly gain….
It’s so very easy to empathize with Opal because while you will doubt pretty much everyone else in the book, you will never doubt Opal. In that regard there is no ambiguity to the story. Snyder could have written a tale wherein you would doubt the narrator, but she didn’t and that’s wonderful. Because, you see, if you doubted Opal and her belief that Devlin and Ulrick have been switched then the air of ambiguity would murder the pace of the plot and no one wants that. By making Opal sure of at least one thing, she makes it so fantastically easy for the reader to invest in Opal. She made it so that I could wish for the rest of the world to see what Opal sees and that’s part of what makes the pages blur by so quickly.
It’s kind of amazing the number of modern cultural issues Snyder hits on in this story. There’s the underlying story of whether a human who has perpetrated horrifying atrocities can be rehabilitated in the story of Devlin. There’s a little bit of xenophobia in the insistence of one of the stormdancers that Kade should be with another stormdancer and not a magician. There’s the fairly strong commentary of a government’s willingness to delude itself. Here’s the thing, this book doesn’t feel like a messaged book. It doesn’t hit you over the head with these issues. They’re woven in effortlessly and are only noticed if you sit down and think about them for a little while.
The story is fast paced and never lets up. Just as soon as Opal gets a chance to rest, something happens that propels her forward into the next step and I can’t lie, I love Snyder’s pace. She subtly builds in character development, but never at the expense of slowing down the story. It just keeps chugging along.
4.5 ink bottles.
Character Believability: 5 Buffys
Character Investibility: 4.5 Doctors
Pace/Urgency/Tension: 4.5 Dresdens
Worldbuilding: 5 Snyders
Language: 5 Feegles
Mystery: 5 Sherlocks