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Echoes and empires
2022
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Publishers Weekly Review
Rhodes's (the Falling Kingdoms series) fast-paced fantasy duology starter opens in the Regarian Empire, whose monarch is fighting to eradicate "every last trace of magic" from the land. Seventeen-year-old socialite Josslyn Drake, who cues as white, supports this goal since her father--former prime minister of the empire's capital--was assassinated a year previously by a rebel warlock. When Josslyn attends a Queen's Gala, unexpectedly encountering dark-haired, dark-eyed thief Jericho Nox, his botched attempt to steal a magical artifact inadvertently releases illegal magic into Josslyn. Forced to ally by their mutual objective of removing the magic slowly poisoning Josslyn from within, the pair is locked into a race against time, en route uncovering political secrets about the empire. Tracing Josslyn's evolution from deeply unlikable socialite to thoughtful protagonist, the rapid-paced plot features an intriguing romance, fueled by generous doses of amusingly antagonistic dialogue. Though the landscape--a fusion of modern technology, pseudo-historical high society, and magic--can feel haphazardly built, a straightforward and compelling first-person prose style ensures narrative cohesion. Ages 12--up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Jan.)
School Library Journal Review
Gr 8 Up--Seventeen-year-old Josslyn Drake aims to maintain her glamorous social media presence, sport the best clothing, and continue to impress the queen. On the one-year anniversary of her father's assassination, she surprises everyone by attending the Queen's Gala. At the event, she is exposed to a piece of stolen art that places the magic memories of the darkest warlock, whom she believes killed her father, within her. While on a lavish shopping spree with her best friend, the handsome thief she encountered at the Gala kidnaps her, hoping to rid her of the magic and contain it for his boss. The two embark on an adventure, where they grow closer together despite the dark history between them. The worldbuilding will appeal to teenagers, as themes of acceptance among social media peer groups and desire to please adults permeate the text. Readers will enjoy the sarcastic tone and flirtatious banter between Joss and Jericho. Unexpected twists and turns coupled with an exciting plot keep this longer novel moving quickly. Deep character development coupled with the crafting of complex, interesting relationships will keep readers yearning for more at the end of the text. VERDICT This must-read book will convert readers who avoid fantasy titles and should be available in libraries for leisure reading.--Angie Jameson
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