I’ve heard heaps of goodness about this book, so I was really excited to start it! I’m always up for Victorian London, even better when magic is involved!
Henrietta Howell can burst into flames. She has always tried to hide her power, until she has to use them in front of one of Her Majesty’s sorcerers to save a friend. As the first female sorcerer in a century, she is brought to London to train among the country’s other young sorcerers. There, she finds out that she is prophesied to save the world and win the ongoing war against the Ancients that have been terrorizing Britain for years. The only problem: the prophecy is not actually about her.
I honestly enjoyed the whole ‘not the chosen one’-plot. It’s so ever-present in literature at the moment, that having one of the characters actually (basically) say: ‘to hell with the prophecy, who cares’ was extremely satisfying. This book shows that your fate only depends on your own actions, and that you don’t need to be meant to do something to actually do it.
I loved the setting of this book, the combination of petticoats, magicians and monsters, real historical figures woven into the history of this world. Even though it was definitely a fantasy book, it had some touches of a historical fiction book, just because the setting and the language used seemed very well researched and executed. The plot was great, gripping and unpredictable, never giving you everything and always surprising you.
The only problem I had with this book was the main character. I know that this is a YA-book, but Henrietta just seems so incredibly young at time. Her reactions and actions seem immature and unreasonable, and alienated me from this book (especially in the beginning). I just couldn’t relate to most of her thoughts, and kept thinking: gah, why did you do this now. This continued until well into the story, but I grew to like her nonetheless. Henrietta stands up for herself and the ones she loves, always making the best of her situation, always giving second chances and being kind to people if she can.
This won’t become one of my favourite books, but it’s an interesting, gripping tale with interesting worldbuilding, great villains and a new approach to the ‘chosen one’-plot. If that sounds like your cup of tea, then definitely go for it! Also, the second book (A Poison Dark and Drowning) is coming out in September. Just saying.