ALKA CHELRAZI IS ON A MISSION:
1. Infiltrate Blackwater Academy
2. Win the Great Game
3. Burn Wizard society to the ground
As a child, Alka witnessed her parents’ brutal murder at the hands of Wizards before she was taken in by an underground rebel group.
Now, Alka is deep undercover at the most prestigious school of magic in the Republic: Blackwater Academy, a place where status is everything, where decadent galas end in blood-splattered duels, where every student has their own agenda. To survive, Alka will have to lie, cheat, kill, and use every trick in her spy’s toolkit. And for the first time in her life, the fiercely independent Alka will have to make friends in order to recruit the misfits and the outcasts into her motley rebellion.
But even as she draws closer to victory — to vengeance — she sinks deeper into danger as suspicious professors and murderous rivals seek the traitor in their midst, and dark revelations unravel her resolve. Can Alka destroy the twisted game…without becoming a part of it?
This is a fantastic, dark, gritty YA fantasy that is not afraid to go there.
Set a magical school, this magical story is full of deadly games, political intrigue, deceit, and rebellion. This follows a teenage girl who infiltrates a prestigious magic school in hopes of leading the rebellion and going where no other rebel as gone – directly into the heart of the wizard elite.
I loved the tenacity and ruthlessness of the heroine. She is willing to do whatever it takes to win (and I mean anything). She was a ton of fun to follow as a main character!
And the boarding school setting was everything I wanted and more. I loved the atmosphere and deadly challenges. This is exactly what I’m looking for when a book claims a magical school setting. It felt familiar but still had it’s own twist and dark, ominous vibe.
But my favorite aspect of this book was how far it went. Often times, I feel like the stakes don’t feel real or high enough – but that is NOT the case with this book. It’s dark and brutal and you definitely get to witness the casualties of magic and war in here.
Despite all of that, there were a couple of this that kept this from being a new favorite.
First – this is a very plot driven story. Which makes for a super engaging and fast read. But I missed the time spent learning the characters, leaving me feel a sense of detachment from them. While I liked them all, I didn’t every really care about what happened to them.
And second – I didn’t 100% love the then/now formatting. In between present day chapters, are glimpses back at Alka’s past. These aren’t in chronological order, but are instead interspersed as they are relevant to what is happening in the present. But they just took me out of the story. I didn’t care too much about what happened in these sections and was just itching to get back to what was happening at the school.
Overall, this is a really fun YA fantasy that I think a lot of readers will read and enjoy. It’s fast paced, deadly, and addictively readable. If you want a new magical school setting to get lost in, definitely check this standalone fantasy out!
Meet the Author
Andrew Shvarts is the author of the Royal Bastards trilogy. He has a BA in English Literature and Russian from Vassar College. He works for Pixelberry Studios, making mobile games like High School Story, Choices, and more. Andrew lives in San Jose, California, with his wife, son, and two cats.