An Unkindness of Magicians

Saga: S. & S. Sept. 2017. 368p. ISBN 9781481451192. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781481451215. FANTASY
During the tournament known as the Turning, the magically talented members of the Unseen World vie for rule of their community. The Unseen World is centered in New York, and powerful House Merlin has dominated for generations, based mostly on a spell it claims permits magicians to use magic at little cost to themselves. There is a cost, but the spell allows this flaw to be passed along to the House of Shadows, whose members come from sacrificed children given up by the powerful families. Sydney, a determined heroine fighting to end a despicable system that oppresses children in order to ease the lives of the elite, is one of only two magicians to ever leave the House of Shadows, and she has entered the Turning as a duelist for an upstart house. Her real goal is to bring down the Unseen World.
VERDICT Howard, whose debut, Roses and Rot, had more than a touch of the gothic, returns strong with another fantasy with a dark center. The magical duels ratchet up the tension as readers can't be sure Sydney will even survive to achieve her revolution.

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