by Lena Coakley
The coven of witches perched in the mountains are there to protect the people living in the Witchlands. They throw bones and interpret the patterns to foresee what comes in the future – whether it is attacks or good fortune. If, of course, you believe in that sort of thing. Which Ryder doesn’t. Rather than rely on the shady dealings of the witches in the mountains, he’s concentrating on working the land his father owned and keeping his family alive through the winter. The wrinkle in the plan is his mother – a former non-believer – who suddenly starts to throw bones and make predictions. Predictions that seem to be coming true.
One of those predictions alerts Ryder to a foe in the mountains. An assassin, out to kill and declare war against the people of the Witchlands. Although Ryder is unsure what to believe, he sets out in search of the assassin, a magician from the neighboring Baen, to put a stop to any sort of wrong-doing. His discovery upon finding the Baen, Falpain, changes the game and forces Ryder to question everything from the clan in the mountain to the very history of his people.
I so, so enjoyed this book. I don’t stumble across a lot of new, high fantasy in the YA genre often, which is sad – because I do adore that genre.
This book has everything going for it: a shady clan in the mountain, a few crazy predictions that are somehow coming true, a former enemy bubbling to the surface, vindication, revelations, twins – oh how the list goes on.
What really impressed me was Coakley’s ability to manage this rather complex storyline. There are actually two main characters in this novel (you’ll notice I focused mostly on one and only briefly mentioned the second), and their stories are complicated and messy. But really, really well done. I noticed the book jacket description opted to focus on Ryder as well, and largely, I think it’s due to the spoilers that are inherent to Falpain’s most basic story. I actually wrote something, then opted to delete it because it was such an interesting, exciting thing that happened near the beginning of the book – I didn’t want to give it away.
There are twists and turns in this one that are shocking (although the one depicted on the cover, I thought, was rather obvious) and Coakley does such a lovely job with the many plots. I would very much look forward to a sequel. A really wonderful, fun book to pick up and enjoy.