“My hair slips down my back and shoulders and around my face like fresh snow falling on the forest floor. Pure white. I raise my chin as the buyers stare. Yes. Look. You don’t want me. Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you. It’s what I do.”
Seventeen-year-old slave girl, Nym, should not exist. In a world where Elementals are only born male, and always killed at birth, she is an anomaly at best. At worst, people around her die.
When a court emissary identifies her weather-manipulating ability as a weapon, Nym is purchased and put to work honing her skills. With time running out for the kingdom of Faelen, Nym might be all that stands between it and the technologically-advanced horror racing down upon them—not to mention the rumored reemergence of the monstrous shapeshifter, Draewulf. But some elements even she can’t control.
Nym must decide whom to trust as she’s unleashed into a world of assassins, changelings, and political betrayal surrounding a young king fighting for his throne, a tired nation that has forgotten its calling, and her handsome tutor whose dark secrets could destroy both her people and her heart.
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Mary Weber’s fantasy tale starts fast and doesn’t leave the reader much time to catch up, as we follow Nym from a disaster in the slave markets to the strange new world she finds herself in. From a peasant slave on the outskirts of a war-torn country, she suddenly finds herself right in the heart of things, being trained to save them all.
What I really liked about Nym was her lack of control. She sees her powers as a curse, and she has good reason to think that way. She doesn’t want to train to control them, because she doesn’t believe she ever will, and she doesn’t want to go out and kill people just because someone tells her it will save the country. Nym’s no fool, and she’s no idealist either – she’s lived a difficult life and even though she now lives in luxury she doesn’t expect anything to change.
I really enjoyed seeing how she grew into herself, grew more confident in her powers and the people around her. I never really warmed to maidservant Breck, but her twin brother Colin is lovely – so exuberant and ridiculous, like a puppy, the complete opposite of his cynical sister. Then there’s Eoghan, the enigmatic trainer who’s touch calms Nym’s inner storm and who draws her like no one she’s ever met. There’s also Adora, Nym’s new owner, one of the king’s most trusted advisors; a formidable and unsettling lady with a taste for handsome young man, and a dislike of being crossed.
Behind all this is a country struggling beneath the burden of war, against an enemy that’s far more technologically advanced. There’s also the underlying threat of Drust and the dark Draewulf, who no one outwardly believes in, but they all fear nonetheless. Weber somehow manages to build a deeply complex world, full of tangled political ties and well-drawn characters, without ever once stopping to dump information in a heap. Everything is skilfully threaded through the conversations and interactions, gradually building to form a complete world and a fascinating plot.
With a heroine who’s troubled but likeable, danger that never goes away, a low-key romance just starting to flower and a cast of fascinating characters, I really enjoyed this read. There’s magic and mystery here with plenty of twists, especially towards the end. Parts of the plot are neatly wound up, but so many more are left open, leaving me wanting more, much more. Nym’s story has only just begun and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.
Storm Siren is Out Now!