cover image Circle of Shadows

Circle of Shadows

Evelyn Skye. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-264372-8

Skye (The Crown’s Game) mixes original story elements with familiar components in this middling series opener about war coming to a peaceful kingdom. A decade ago in Kichona, Prince Gin rebelled against his older twin, Empress Aki, in a Blood Rift that ended with Gin’s apparent death. Now, 18-year-old apprentice taiga warriors and mentally linked partners Sora and Daemon discover a group of soldiers in a remote part of the kingdom, led by Prince Gin himself. It falls to them and their friends, Fairy and Broomstick, to convince the taiga leaders that the threat is real—and, barring that, to use their ninjalike skills, magic, and wits to defend Kichona. Time-honored tropes include unhelpful adults and individuals who aren’t, after all, dead, and the prose is sometimes stale (“Everything was quiet. Too quiet”). But Skye’s magic, conveyed via the taiga and Gin’s soldiers, proves unusual and interesting, and the cliffhanger ending will leave readers who can overlook the volume’s flaws eager for the series’s next installment. Ages 13–up[em]. Agent: Brianne Johnson, Writers House. (Jan.) [/em]