In a Garden Burning Gold

Rory Power. Del Rey, $27 (432p) ISBN 978-0-593-35497-1

Bestselling YA author Power makes her adult debut (after Burn Our Bodies Down) with this sprawling, tragic fantasy about the intergenerational legacy of familial abuse told through the eyes of twin siblings Rhea and Alexandros “Lexos” Argyros. Their father, Vasilis, seized power in a bloody coup to become the Stratagiozi—or absolute dictator—of Thyzakos. He rules his family with the same despotic ferocity with which he rules his country, and Rhea and Lexos dutifully but reluctantly serve him. Rhea’s magic brings about the change of the seasons, but to do so she must murder a consort each year. News of an uprising leads Lexos to urge Rhea to choose its figurehead, Michali Laskaris, as her consort, believing Michali’s death will quash the rebellion. Meanwhile, Lexos travels to drum up support for his father amongst other Stratagiozi. The twins’ separate quests lead both to question their loyalties as the threats to their family increase. Power creates a distinctive magic system and has a steady hand with the complex geopolitical intrigue, building a fascinating, lived-in world, but the almost Shakespearean tragedy of the blood-soaked plot paints the characters as frustratingly passive. Still, there’s plenty to appreciate here. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, InkWell Management. (Apr.)
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