Rating: 3 Stars ★★★☆☆
“Hey, shifter girl!” a human with sandy hair shouted as he leaned over the bar counter.
In the city of Solantha, mages rule absolute, with shifters considered second-class citizens and humans something in between. No one outside the mage families are allowed to have magic, and anyone born with it must agree to have it stripped from them to avoid execution.
Sunaya Baine, a shifter-mage hybrid, has managed to keep her unruly magic under wraps for the last twenty-four years. But while chasing down a shifter-hunting serial killer, she accidentally loses control of her magic in front of witnesses, drawing the attention of the dangerous and enigmatic Chief Mage.
Locked up in the Chief Mage’s castle and reduced to little more than a lab rat, Sunaya resists his attempts to analyze and control her at every turn. But she soon realizes that to regain her freedom and catch the killer, she must overcome her hatred of mages and win the most powerful mage in the city to her side.
Sunaya Baine is a panther shifter and half-mage. Only she keeps her magic hidden. She can’t control it and it only comes out when she is in mortal danger. Which is a problem when she is attacked while out on a case and uses her magic in front of witnesses.
In Solantha, as well as the rest of the country, anyone who is born with the power to wield magic, aside from a mage’s acknowledged offspring, either has their magic stripped from them or is executed.
The Chief Mage takes an interest in her and he is not at all the evil dictator she thought he would be. Sure, he is distant and stiff, but he also protects her. As does his best friend, a wolf-shifter called Fenris.
I liked Sunaya a lot. She is fierce, she has a sharp tongue and she is always out, trying to do something, to change things. Sure, she is a bit too impulsive at times, but it is in tune with her character.
I also really liked her friends, Noria the tech-genius and Comenius, the hedge-wizard. They were really cool.
“We haven’t conclusively determined whether or not there actually is silver in the cerebust. Noria has an alchemist friend who is going to run some tests-”
“He’s a chemistry student,” Noria corrected, shooting him a testy glare. “Alchemy is magic.”
Comenius snorted. “Well excuse me.”
And I liked the setting, although it is a bit confusing. At first, I thought it was urban fantasy. There’s a bar, talks of rent, hospitals and taxes. But it’s not set in our world, but instead, in a fantasy world that is divided into three races: shifters, humans and the all-powerful mages.
The high-fantasy setting complete with magic and swords and the decidedly urban fantasy feel of the city and the narration were a bit confusing at times.
Then there’s the story. Someone is murdering shifters with silver and Sunaya is determined to find out who is responsible. But she’s a prisoner, so that’s a bit difficult for her.
It was a really interesting mystery and I liked reading about it. The ending didn’t live up to the rest of it, though. It felt too rushed and nothing is really resolved.
A interesting story with a kick-ass heroine.