cover image Riven


Mindee Arnett. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $18.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-305783-8

Long ago, on the island of Riven, natural-born magicians, or “adepts,” conducted a ritual intending to strengthen their power source, the Rift. Instead, though, they inadvertently created Ice, a magical but toxic substance that anyone—not just adepts—can wield, and which requires constant harvesting. Now the rich and powerful rule Riven, with the underprivileged mining Ice, and adepts’ powers being strictly regulated, ostensibly to protect the public from their magic. Teen mercenary and secret adept Mars Darksvane fears someone will discover his abilities but lacks the resources to leave Riven. When crime boss Una Almadòttra offers him a lucrative job protecting teen heiress Fura Thorvald, he accepts, but the gig is a cover: Mars must try to persuade Fura to divulge the formula for something Una calls the Primer. Initially, payment and self-preservation are his primary concerns, but the more Mars learns about Fura and the Primer, the more conflicted he becomes. Lengthy expository worldbuilding and convenient plotting occasionally sap surprise, but escalating complications, shifting alliances, and high-stakes action, coupled with the core cast’s nuanced, evolving relationships, impart tension and immediacy in this ambitious fantasy by Arnett (the Rime Chronicles). Most characters cue as white. Ages 14–up. Agent: Suzie Townsend, New Leaf Literary. (Jan.)