This was a fun quick read. It was not what I expected though, I admit! I was expecting a romance (or so the book blurb led me to believe) but no, my friends, the main plot of this story is not romance. It's Ryiah's growth as contender for the spot of an apprenticeship in combat. Let me back up for a second here...
Ryiah and Alex are twins on their way to a prestigious academy where they will fight for 15 apprentice spots that will give them the opportunity to become mages. Alex, studies mage restoration, while Ryiah and her good friend Ella are going for mage combat. Within the 100-something crowd vying for these prestigious spots are non-heir prince Darren and his bit- I mean really nasty friend Priscella. Ryiah and Darren immediately are at odds when she and Ella insult him, but find they have a few things in common. This story is about Ryiah's day-to-day struggles in becoming a top contender for an combat apprenticeship.
What I enjoyed:
Ryiah was a really strong willed, but human character. Anyone could relate to her. She feels on top of her world at her victories and knows when to wallow and retreat to lick her wounds in defeat. In essence, what I am saying is that she is realistic. *applause.* Alex and Ella are adorable characters who play Ryiah's voice of reason for a lot of the book. Their interaction was fun and I enjoyed reading about their tight wolf pack. I also liked the add in of Ian, the second year. His visit was brief, but it left a feeling that you KNOW there is going to be more of him in the second book. I CAN JUST FEEL IT.
What could have been improved upon:
The day-to-day training was really tedious to read. I found myself skipping training day pages just because it was the same thing over and over most times: Ryiah and Ella getting their butts handed to them in physical and mental training. I wish there had been something happening other than day-to-day work. Like an invasion or evil someone breaking in or SOMETHING to relieve their days of training.
Ryiah also goes way too back and fourth on her relationship with Darren. I felt like I was reading a fantasy version of Pride and Prejudice. I just KNEW what was coming along the way. Arrogant jerk realizes he likes fierce girl despite her lowborn upbringing, but sees her potential. Lowborn girl gets pissed and thinks all bad things are his fault. Later finds out that things aren't and non-heir is not a complete ass-hole.
Speaking of non-heir, I found that wording very strange. Why not say Prince? It has already been established that he is not the crown prince. Non-heir just felt off when I was reading and brought me out of the story. It just made Darren sound a little pathetic, which is not the impression he's supposed to give off.
Ella...although Ella is fun, I found her slightly boring as well. She was 2D in terms of character development. The only thing I can really say about it that she was a nice person. That's about it. Alex, on the other hand was a lot of fun to read about. He was much better developed.
Finally, I wish Carter had made them older than 15. They just acted much more mature than their age says. In my mind, I decided to make them 17 year olds. I can't image any 15 years old doing the stuff they did. I did not have the will, heavens knows. Also they look much older on the cover so I'm justifying it :p
Overall, a fun read for those interested in a slow-paced...magical read. Go ahead and give it a try! I know for sure that I'll be reading the sequel (just started it actually). I DO DESPERATELY hope there is more Darren and Ryiah interaction...as in... interactionnn <3
Note: The second book is even better (like 3.9 stars) , and you can find that review on goodreads :)