This starts out as a fairly ordinary fantasy story, about Elitsa, who’s a kind of bounty hunter, reclaiming magical relics from people who leased them to do a job and then failed to perform. Elitsa is at a crossroads in her life, and she needs to decide if she wants to keep going with her current job, or if she wants to take a break and see the world while she figures out what to do with her life.
It’s around this time, fairly early on, but still far enough into the story that Elitsa is someone to care about, that things take a chilling turn.
All is not as it appears.
The choice Elitsa must make is not as mundane as first it might seem. Its consequences more dire.
Here’s where the story gets going. What first seemed a pleasant little tale about finding your place in the world twists and turns, grows in scope and complexity, and just doesn’t let up. I’m not sure I’d call it fast-paced, it’s not always about action, but at the same time, there’s always something going on. Another problem to solve. Another question in need of answer.
Another secret revealed, and yet, at the end of the book, it’s clear that this is just the beginning – an introduction to a story far greater. Sure, it’s not all unpredictable, and not everything is the pinnacle of originality, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still interesting, and Elitsa is still a person to care about.
What I’ll whine about
At times, especially in the first half of the book, I wasn’t always able to keep up with Elitsa’s reasoning, especially when it came to her relationship to Vilis, her mentor. This wasn’t resolved by the end of the book, even though it felt like it’s out of the story, at least for now.’
What I’ll gush about
The scenery and atmosphere. This might be a small thing, but it really stood out to me how well the backdrop to the story was painted. The ever present autumn chill is a tangible addition to the story and helps enormously in giving the world a sense of place. I wouldn’t call it world-building, but rather just plain good writing.
That said, the world-building is worth mentioning too. Specifically the magic system. Essence based elemental magic, where different elements can be combined for complex effects. At least, that’s how it first appears, but like everything else in this book, there’s more underneath the surface.
Personality. This begins as a purely character driven story about one young woman’s personal issues, and while it grows in scope, the story doesn’t lose sight of the person within the main character.
This is the start of something great. Make sure to pick it up and give it a read.
About the Author
Holly Karlsson writes epic and adventure fantasy filled with magic, dangerous quests, compelling characters, and mythical creatures. Holly is the author of the Daughters of Fire & Sea trilogy, and Unusual Diction.