Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Books For Young Readers for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?
Henrietta Howell can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city–and the one she loves?
There are some things about this book that I loved, beginning with Jessica Cluess turning the Chosen One trope upside down. That’s not to say Henrietta isn’t the much ballyhooed “prophesied one”. To be honest, by the end of the book I was still undecided. I did feel the beginning of the story is a bit rushed with things coming together a little too fortuitously, but once Henrietta arrives in London to begin training with her fellow sorcerers, the frenetic pace slows to that of a more steady one. Henrietta herself is a complicated character. I liked her self-assuredness and determination, but there are times that she also comes across as self-absorbed. There are seven young men training with her which makes the romance, er, interesting. Because it could have gone into the almost always annoying love triangle, quadrangle territory, this could have taken away from the story, but I actually didn’t mind it because it wound up taking a backseat to the story itself. This was also fortunate because I’m hoping the author spends some more time developing her characters. None of them really stood out from any from previous books in similar genres. Don’t get me wrong. They’re likable enough. They’re just not very original. I love books set in Victorian London which is another reason why this book called out to me. While I thought Cluess did a good job creating the setting, she did very little in the way of actual world-building. She never fully goes into the history and the magic that is the foundation of the story and in the end I was left wanting more. So, I think what I want to say is that despite the flaws in this first book, I still think this series has a lot of potential, and because of this I will definitely try the next book. I’d recommend this to fans of the The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, as it’s somewhat similar in tone and setting.