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Blog Tour Review - A Power Unbound by Freya Marske

 Blog Tour Review - A Power Unbound by Freya Marske Secrets! Magic! Enemies to. . .something more? Jack Alston, Lord Hawthorn, would love a nice, safe, comfortable life. After the death of his twin sister, he thought he was done with magic for good. But with the threat of a dangerous ritual hanging over every magician in Britain, he’s drawn reluctantly back into that world. Now Jack is living in a bizarre puzzle-box of a magical London townhouse, helping an unlikely group of friends track down the final piece of the Last Contract before their enemies can do the same. And to make matters worse, they need the help of writer and thief Alan Ross. Cagey and argumentative, Alan is only in this for the money. The aristocratic Lord Hawthorn, with all his unearned power, is everything that Alan hates. And unfortunately, Alan happens to be everything that Jack wants in one gorgeous, infuriating package. When a plot to seize unimaginable power comes to a head at Cheetham Hall―Jack’s ancestral fam

Blog Tour Review - Academy Arcanist by Shami Stovall

 Blog Tour Review - Academy Arcanist by Shami Stovall

Hopes. Dreams. And literal nightmares out to kill a young boy.

Gray Lexly, son of a candlemaker, wants to escape his life of old-world technologies and study at the prestigious Astra Academy, a school for arcanists—those who can wield magic. But Gray has a major problem. Every night, as he sleeps, he’s visited by monsters. When they injure Gray in his dreams, he wakes with the same wounds in real life…

On the night Gray might finally die in his nightmares, he is saved by the kind and mysterious Professor Helmith, a powerful arcanist. She offers to protect Gray and invites him to attend Astra Academy.

Before that can happen, Gray must bond with a mystical creature to become an arcanist himself. Will he bond with a unicorn? A pegasus? A kitsune? Whatever he bonds with will determine his magical abilities, so he must choose wisely.

And when trouble finds Professor Helmith, Gray must become powerful enough to help her and fend off the terrible nightmares, before it’s too late…

I really enjoyed this fun, imaginative fantasy novel. I've not read any of Shami Stovall's Chronicles of Frith series, but this one works really well as an introduction to her world. 

It's a magical school, with all that that involves. There are kids from different backgrounds thrown into dorm rooms and class rooms together. There are students with very little knowledge of this magical world trying to find their feet. There are rivalries and close friendships and bullying . Gray has always dreamt of going to the academy, and finally meeting the professor who has been watching over his dreams in person. But as soon as he arrives he realises something is wrong. He has a central mystery to investigate and very little idea who to trust. That storyline is really intriguing and captivating and pulled me along to a dramatic conclusion with ease.

One of the main strengths of Academy Arcanist, that raises it above a lot of magical school stories, is the way it deals with mystical creatures. To become an arcanist you have to bond with a mystical creature of some kind, and you then share their powers while they share your life force. There's a wonderful mix of classical creatures, like unicorns, kitsune and dragons, with some that feel more original while still steeped in lore, like the sinister Reaper or protective Knightmare. The ranking of creatures adds another level to the school hierarchy, and gives the world a sophisticated magical system with mystical creatures at its heart.

By far the best of these creatures is the one Gray bonds with, Twain. This little kitten is absolutely adorable, blending all of the familiar traits of a cat with some powerful magic. He's grumpy and cute and I utterly love him. 

I love how the characters break away from familiar archetypes too. Sorin, Gray's brother, is big and strong and tough, but has the heart and soul of a poet. Nini seems sweet and quiet, but it feels like there's a darkness there. There's a complexity to it all and I'm really looking forward to seeing how these characters grow and develop in future books.

The only very minor gripe is the book has a tendency to constantly remind the reader who is which type of arcanist, almost like it's a part of someone's name or title.


Academy Arcanist by Shami Stovall is out on 23rd August 2022, published by Capital Station Books.
I was given an ebook review copy in return for an honest review and participation in this The Write Reads blog tour.


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