“Don’t trust the trees, for they will rip you, rend you, tear you, kill you dead.”– Sarah Beth Durst
This book took me by surprise! We follow Daleina as her family are the only survivors of an attack on her village by elemental spirits. The Queen of Aratay is supposed to be in complete control of the spirits, but after the attack on Daleina’s village Queen Fara’s powers are believed to be slipping out of her control, despite her insistence otherwise. Daleina feels it is now her duty to make sure another attack like this never happens again. When she comes of age, she enters an academy to help her grow more powerful and one day become an heir to the Queen.
What I loved most about this book was the atmospheric setting. I could imagine everything so perfectly and felt completely absorbed in the world. This book had all the Autumn vibes and I loved it. While there are other elemental magic, the earth and wood magic is described in rich detail. There were very similar vibes to the earth magic and dark wood atmosphere from Uprooted. I’m also a sucker for magic school and magic trial tropes, and both are present in this book.
One issue I had was the heavy-handed foreshadowing. There was a betrayal I predicted, and it slightly annoyed me that none of the characters picked up on it earlier. Also, the exact passage of time isn’t explicitly stated, and I would’ve liked to know how many years have passed by the end of the book.
Overall, I absolutely loved this first book and can’t wait to get to the rest of the trilogy!