Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she's being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.
Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he's also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to revenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.
But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Halfway through the book, I had to decide whether I should go on or call it quits. For a good portion of the book, the pacing was off, the writing style was hard to get used to, and the setting was one I was not very fond of. The first 20 pages had a severe case of infodumpiosis (this actually sounds legit). I was confused by all the names and references and world building, so for the first few chapters, my experience wasn't enjoyable.
The book picked up 100 pages in. The story started to become interesting, and I had a faint idea of what the hell was going on.
The book follows Iolanthe Seabourne, an elemental mage, whose attempt at conjuring lightning throws her into trouble. Titus, the prince is after her, and so is the ruthless Inquisitor and all of Atlantis. While the premise somewhat promises a book full of adventure, I did not find that that was the case. Sure, there was a lot going on at times, but it was slowed down by the long descriptions. A big part of the story takes place in Victorian London, after Iolanthe is forced to flea her home at the instructions of her guardian. I think people fond of that certain period of time might enjoy the story more than I did. The biggest problem I had was with the vocabulary used. I don't know much about that time period, so I had to go back to my trusty dictionary to make sure I understood every reference made.
Although a huge part of the book is about magic and all the shenanigins of fantasy, romance plays a big role. Almost too much for my tastes. While there is a little insta-love between Iolanthe and Titus, it was played down by the latter's constant deceiving of Iolanthe. She wasn't naive and even though I thought she got infatuated way too early, she was cautious and alert. This made the insta-love a little better. Add to that a good love interest, and you've got a bearable, although somewhat rushed, romance.
Apart from the problems I had, I must admit that Sherry Thomas knows how to write an interesting character, which is Titus. As the prince of the Domain, Titus is forced into a life he doesn't want, while carrying a secret that is enough to make any boy his age insane. The author managed to create a mysterious, secretive guy who isn't practically a copy of every YA guy there is. I personally understood where he came from, and how much of a burden it is to have your whole life revolving around a prophecy.
The world building is done very well, and the magical element was original. The description of how magic works in Iolanthe's world was interesting. Again, I had a hard time staying in focus whilst reading this book, but maybe that has to do with my tiny attention span.
I'd recommend this one for people looking for a fun, romantic fantasy read. There were a couple of scenes that made me genuinely laugh. It was very well written, and the author did a good job on setting the rules of magic and how it functions in the novel. Also, if Victorian era is your thing, than you'll enjoy reading this book. It's obvious that the author is familiar with the time period, from the large amount of references and the dialogue between the characters fits that time period.
A copy was provided by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.