This review contains some spoilers. The first half of the review will not contain spoilers, and there will be a warning before the spoiling occurs. So don’t get mad at me!
So, this is the first audiobook I’ve ever actually listened to! I know I’m a little late to the game but I’ve been podcast-obsessed for some time now and never felt the need before since I have so many physical books, but I’m finally here.
Some pre-review things. I listened to this book through Libby. It was narrated by Philip Battley and is about 13 hours long to listen to – I listened at normal speed. It was published by Balzer + Bay in 2013 and the actual book is about 450 pages. Oddly, I marked this book as to-read on goodreads (add me!) in 2016. Which I didn’t realize until writing this review, but I did end up reading it so that’s a nice little tidbit for past me.
The book centers on a teenage girl named Iolanthe Seaborne, a young mage living with an academic-turned-school-principal in a small town. He has been her guardian for awhile, and is addicted to something that sounds vaguely like opium, but is a fictional substance. Pretty quickly, thing’s get stirred up, and she calls down lightening, letting everyone know where she is. Simultaneously, a young prince, Titus, who was waiting for a sign that his mom prophesied before she died, sees the lightning Iolanthe conjured and immediately heads over. Several others converge, and Iolanthe narrowly escapes death and gets into a chest that takes her to London. Titus finds her in London, and brings her to the boarding school he attends. Titus reveals to Iolanthe that she is the greatest mage of their generation, and he needs her to help take down the Bane, a scary tyrant controlling everything. Although Iolanthe initially isn’t into it, she ends up succumbing and working with Titus. She pretends to be a boy, as they train to improve her powers and figure out how to take down the Bane.
The book has a very European feel, but with magic and a fancy mage land. The protagonists spend a lot of time in England — that’s where the boarding school resides — and there’s a definite British flavour. It took me a little to get into it – the narrator took a little getting used to, particularly with the majority of the book being from the perspective of Iolanthe, but I eventually got into it. There is some romance that although initially I felt hesitant towards, I warmed up to as it improved. I really like the plot in the sense that there are some mini climaxes before the larger conflict towards the end, and it doesn’t give too much away, so it will transition smoothly into the second one (I have requested that the Ontario Library Consortium purchase the audiobook but they do have the e-book so maybe I’ll just read that).
Overall, giving it a 7 out of 10. It’s pretty good for the targeted audience and has some interesting concepts that I like.
Things I really like: there is a book that has fairy tales and fictional worlds that you can interact with that Iolanthe and Titus use for training and fighting dragons. I dig that. It’s also a portal to other books which is kind of great. There are some intriguing descriptions of dragon that I found very interesting as well, I have to say. The forbidden love situation is played out quite well, even though the captive-captor thing is a little eh at the beginning.
Things I don’t love as much. Titus prepared an entire personality for Iolanthe at the boarding school – but he was anticipating a male mage. Her school-boy personality’s name is Archer Fairfax, and throughout the book, Titus tends to refer to her as Fairfax, even in his thoughts, which I don’t love. Iolanthe is kind of annoying at the beginning, but she improves. There are some bullies at the boarding school, and some court drama that isn’t very appealing for me personally. Really, I don’t have many downsides.
I also like that we get introduced to the Bane, and the whole climax scene is generally enjoyable. The Titus goes off on his little mission, and Iolanthe follows him but doesn’t do anything dumb, thank god. Iolanthe ends up saving him, and he ends up killing the inquisitor, and then having to manage the feelings of murdering someone. It plays out nicely and sets a good stage for their next encounter with the Bane, which I’m especially interested for, since they did kill him but he got resurrected, so I’m keen to see how it plays out. Also, I’m very interested in whether or not Titus actually dies – I hope not. Honestly, I don’t have too much more to say!