Tomi Adeyemi drafts an amazing world where magic was crushed by an oppressive government. The gods responsible for magic have retreated from the people. And the king actively oppresses those who have the visible telltale marks that could possibly allow them to tap into magic once more. Adeyemi’s hero is Zeile, a headstrong and impetuous girl who leaps into action without thinking through the consequences. She bears the marks of a magic user. And her actions lead her on a quest to restore magic with the help of her gladiator brother and a runaway princess.
This isn’t a simple quest story. This is a story of personal struggle. The author admits that this story, its characters, the world it takes place in, are all a reflection of the climate of racial tension that is present around us. Adeyemi writes in such a way that the emotions of our real world difficulties are present. Those emotions do not demand the reader to replace elements with real world counterparts. Those emotions do ask you to consider if there are biases or prejudices that may be hiding.
Adeyemi writes in a smooth style that is appropriate for younger readers, but deep enough to hold the attention of adults. Her storytelling switches among the points of view of the leading characters, including the antagonists. That may sound confusing but I found it to be easy to keep the characters easily separated. The characters are all unique and fleshed out somewhat well by this books end. There is a second part planned for release next year.
One word about the cover art. The cover is designed by Rich Deas. The front cover has a very beautiful style. The hardback edition that I purchased (mass market, no special edition) has a wonderful front flap with a foil and glossy design. I found that little detail to add to the overall beauty of the dust jacket.