Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Dystopian, Supernatural
Publication Date: March 28th 2017 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Goodreads | Amazon
Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.
Her life might well be over.
In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.
As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.
| I adore alternative historical books that incorporate folklore into it, especially anything pertaining to Slavic/Russian folklore. That being said, I felt as though this book had major promise which was why I picked it up in the first place.
Sadly, I was largely underwhelmed as I began to turn the pages. Anna Arden is born Barren [without magical abilities,] to a family that is renowned from them. Even her little brother has power, albeit only a hair more than what she does. Anna is constantly put away whenever her eldest sister is weaving spells because spells have an unusual tendency to break in the presence of Anna and when it happens during her sister’s Debut — Anna is sent away to feuding Hungary.
There was a lot that went on during this book, but I do have to say that it does well to plunge you into this world where this is a divide of people – the general populace and the Luminate [those with magic.] It creates the laws, the order and while there does tend to be a lot of info drop I don’t think there could be less of that because it makes the world believable and it shows us how the people exist in it.
I did not care for a single character – wait, no I lie. I enjoyed Hunger, who had the smallest part of the entire book toward the end. Anna wasn’t memorable, in fact, there were very few characters that were. It wasn’t as if they were terrible by way of personality or written, it was simply that they didn’t have anything that made them stick out more than the other. Gabor, a Romani, has promise but then he was quickly pushed aside once we are teased with him. I found there were a lot of characters tossed in willy-nilly but no real connection was ever made to one.
The folklore that is strewn within it was a nice touch, but it didn’t save the story for me. Why? There are a lot of small moments that add up to be about 3/4 of the book in which nothing actually happens, something happens in the beginning and then abruptly at the end. Other than that the story constantly treads nothingness that is easily skipped over.
Overall, I was saddened and underwhelmed. I feel like this book is going to have opposite of the spectrum reviews… either five stars or 1/2… No in between.
What is the book that let you down the most as far as hype went – and why?