Strong women are making themselves known more and more in books for young people, and Ghost Flower is no exception. This is the story of a girl named Sophia who has lost nearly everything. She harbors deep resentment toward the mages who run her land of Arcadia, especially as she lacks magical power herself. Sophia has taken it upon herself to examine what little there is of her own mana root, and when her fiancé takes no notice of her discovery, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Filled with magic, justice, and romance, this smart and witty narrative is a highly enjoyable read for fans of young adult literature. Please see my full review below!
In the land of Arcadia, society is starkly divided between those who wield magical power and those who do not. Sophia Lombardi is in the camp without magic, eking out an existence on the outskirts of the city and hoping for ongoing survival in spite of illness and the constant threat of monster waves from the nearby Forest. While her fiancé Aiden is involved with extensive mage training in the imposing Tower, Sophia chooses to learn all she can about magic and becomes adept at managing her own weak mana root in the process. When she finds herself capable of affecting great change in her society, she discovers more of the truth about both herself and her world with each passing day.
This young adult novel reads like a blend between a fantasy novel and a romance, with one young woman caught in a tangled web of lies and desires. Though she receives attention from more than one man, Sophia is primarily focused on protecting other non-mages like herself from the injustices of Arcadia. Neither truly good nor truly evil, Sophia acts as a social vigilante, doing what is in her power to thwart the self-indulgent leadership and provide for those who are less fortunate. Excellent worldbuilding places readers squarely in this fantasy space, and as Sophia describes her activities, readers feel connected to both her and her plight. Most of the story is presented from Sophia’s perspective, but a handful of chapters later in the book feature other characters to help answer some of the questions that readers will inevitably generate.
The first in a series, Ghost Flower opens several avenues of intrigue that will likely be explored in later installments. Readers will eagerly observe as the relationships between Sophia and her companions deepen throughout this novel, and they will anticipate further developments as the story continues. Rare moments of romantic intensity, strong language, and violence are found within the narrative, but the majority of the story is chaste and accessible to a wide range of readers. Most striking is the cerebral complexity of the writing that makes the book a smart and delightful text to read. Fans of young adult fantasy adventures will very much enjoy this unexpected take on the genre and will enthusiastically await Sophia’s next adventure.
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