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Young Adult Indie 894
Lost Identity
(Updated: April 30, 2023)
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WHERE THE LIGHTNING GOES by Jackary Salem is a YA Fantasy novel that begins with Elle imprisoned in a room. She doesn’t know how she got there, but she knows she needs to escape. Breaking out isn’t an easy feat, but it sets her on a journey to uncover her lost memories. To survive, she enlists a series of characters who teach her how to harness magic. However, the more she practices, the more everyone realizes how truly powerful she could be. It’s not a coincidence. As the scheme behind what happened to Elle starts to unravel, it’s clear she’s running headfirst into a life-or-death battle, but without all the necessary information, she may lose before she discovers who she really is.

What I like most about the world Salem created is that the magic system is clear and understandable. Between the varying abilities with the elements and the Impossible Markets, there are plenty of action-packed scenes with many surprises. I’ve also never read about soul magic before, and whether or not it’s unique to this particular story, I enjoyed getting to imagine how that could work. I was especially interested in the shape-shifting demons who were fueled by captured souls, and what it takes to free them. In fact, I love that the next installment will likely focus even more heavily on the unpredictable Cypress.

In regards to the plot, it is noticeably well-thought-out. The coincidences are supposed to feel a bit too lucky. The synchronicities are supposed to make readers question how everyone is linked. Each character has a strong emotional connection to what they’re after. However, I wanted to be a bit more emotionally involved in the story. Because I often felt like I was on the outside looking in, instead of feeling exactly what the characters were feeling, it took longer than expected to get through this book.

That being said, WHERE THE LIGHTNING GOES explores a lot of interesting themes, such as, what it means to face the world alone, loss, what acceptance and forgiveness of the past looks like, allowing yourself to be who you are, and so much more. This book offers a nice dichotomy of being both a deep reflection of life and an escapist fantasy. People who like forbidden magic and found family stories will enjoy this novel.
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