Aurelia is not well-loved by her people, who have been taught to fear magic. Renalt is really ruled by the Tribunal, a semi-religious organization that frequently kills witches, and witchcraft/magic is against the law. Aurelia has blood magic, which she has cultivated and studied in secret. Due to the strange silvery color of her eyes (unrelated to her magic), people suspect her of magic and thus fear/dislike her. As such, her mother fears for her life.
Aurelia is forced to flee Renalt when she attempts magic in front of her subjects at a banquet to save a man’s life. The Tribunal is determined to kill her, but she escapes with a small entourage. However, the man who was supposed to help protect her and has supposedly been working for the crown from within the Tribunal turns on her, killing her guard and confidante, Kellan, and taking her younger brother, the Renaltan crown prince- and even worse, convincing him that Aurelia has betrayed him.
Penniless, alone, and desperate, Aurelia treks nearer Achlev with Kellan’s horse and her bracelet of gems, which she barters for a night’s rest. One can only enter Achlev with a special spelled parchment which allows one to cross the wall. When a man, Zan, comes insisting on purchasing the horse, Aurelia is unwilling to sell and he convinces her to go over the wall with him. He steals it anyway and tries to pay her after the fact. Aurelia refuses his money, but she is now within Achlev. Soon, Aurelia learns from Zan that there is danger in Achlev, and only she may be able to help prevent the terrible destruction.
In a haunting, elegant, and enchanting story, we follow Aurelia on her dangerous journey. There is a lot of death and betrayal in the story. With so many twists and turns, I could never have anticipated the directions the story would take. I absolutely loved every minute of it. This book quickly became one of my favorites, and I absolutely cannot wait for the next. The magic, romance, mystery- it’s all so beautifully well done. I highly recommend this book to YA fantasy lovers. You will not regret picking up this amazing read!
I do want to add warnings for self-harm (blood magic), attempted rape, and suicide for readers who might be sensitive.