First Year (The Black Mage #1)

Rachel E.
Young Adult

HISTORICAL/PARANORMAL:  Fifteen year old Riyah dreams of becoming a combat mage and attending the Academy. Though a lowborn without noble blood, she can succeed if given the chance. She and her twin brother Alex quickly discover the difficulty of the training and magic. When brooding Prince Darren begins to notice Riyah and offers his help, she makes an enemy.  Priscilla, infatuated and obsessed with winning the prince, becomes Riyah's rival, determined to make sure she fails. Her dreams of becoming a warrior or her heart's longing for Prince Darren - she has to choose which is worth the risk of losing, then find her own strength to endure the outcome, whichever it is.


Beginning with a nail-biting bandit hunt for Alex and Riyah, the reader is caught with a fish hook and pulled along into the intrigue.  Alex's boyish charm is delightful, while Riyah's determination places her in the "girls kick butt" category. The story focuses on the day to day events at the academy but lacks complexity of the world they live in. Darren, the dark prince, is mysterious and captivating. One may want to despise him but will equally want to fall in love with him, leaving one's heart torn chapter after chapter. The ending is slightly disappointing with a few things unexplored but with a sequel to follow, questions unanswered perhaps will be. Falling somewhere between the magic of Hogwarts and the excitement of the “Hunger Games”, this story resides in the niche rather nicely.


Margaret Faria