Book One in the Wilders series
By Marie Brennan
Available now from Book View Cafe
I love Marie Brennan. She's the author of the duology WARRIOR and WITCH, two of the first books I ever mentioned on In Bed With Books. She's also the author of the Onyx Court series, which has both Queen Elizabeth and magic. LIES AND PROPHECY is the first book in a series that may never have any more books, but it's quite satisfying on its own. I still want more, but I'm not crushed by a terrible cliffhanger of evil doom. And here's why you should read it and convince Brennan to write more: magic college.
Kim is a student specializing in divination at Welton University. But this year she's decided to focus more on Ceremonial Magic and other subjects she's neglected. Much of what she's been divining lately focuses on Julian, the only wilder at the university. He's definitely in danger, and Kim might be too. She doesn't have long to prepare. Soon enough, they're attacked and Samhain and shortly after Julian disappears.
LIES AND PROPHECY successfully combines college hijinks with magical intrigue and battles for autonomy. I liked how important Kim and Julian's roommates, Liesel and Robert, were to their lives and the story. A good roommate is the best friend. I also liked how detailed the world was. There are theories about why some humans have magic, and a medical test to determine magical aptitude. While little narrative time is spent in classes, there's a sense of the curriculum. I love when authors use a practical, scientific approach to magic. And, though there are twists, none of the twists violate what the reader has been told of how magic functions in the world.
There's also a love story. I liked how it developed in a slow burn, though some readers might be disappointed by the fact it remains fairly chaste. (Hey, they've got a world in danger to worry about.) At first, it's just lingering looks and small tells, like who Kim always runs to first. It's complicated, given that Julian is so full of magic that just looking at him is hard, but she wants to make it work because it's what she feels. Kate is terrifically emotional and stubborn, and those qualities prove to be a saving grace.
The only thing I didn't like about LIES AND PROPHECY was that it switched between first and third person. Much of the book is through Kim's point of view, but other times it's told in third person even if she's present. There's not a good structural or plot reason for the book to be written this way, so I wish Brennan had picked one. I'm not one of those people who hates first or third, but they so rarely belong in the same book.
I would recommend LIES AND PROPHECY to Harry Potter fans who are looking for something more grown up as well as to fans of THE MAGICIANS who want something less grimdark. It's a little YA, a little New Adult, and a lot of having your friends at your side as you face down things you don't understand but know you have to fight anyway.
You can read a prequel novella for free on Brennan's site.