Author: Kathleen Duey
Publication Date: 8/4/09
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Blurb(GR): Sadima, Franklin, and Somiss, driven out of Limòri by a suspicious fire, are living in a cave hidden within the cliffs that overlook the city. Somiss is convinced the dark passages of the caves were the home of ancient magicians, and his obsession with restoring magic deepens. Sadima dreams of escape -- for her, for Franklin, and for the orphaned street boys Somiss has imprisoned in a crowded cage. Somiss claims he will teach these boys magic, that they will become his first students, but Sadima knows he is lying.
Generations later, Hahp is struggling to survive the wizards' increasingly dangerous classes at the Limòri Academy of Magic. He knows the fragile pact he has forged with his secretive roommate, Gerrard, will not be enough to put an end to the evil. It will take all the students acting together to have any chance of destroying the academy. Building trust, with few chances to speak or plan, will be almost impossible, but there is no choice.
And now I shall join the ranks of fans waiting not-so-patiently for the third book in this series to come out. Come on, Kathleen Duey! You can’t leave us hanging like this! You can’t just broadcast little gems like this one:
I haven’t felt this obsessed with a series for a very long time. This was like Harry Potter level obsession for me. It was like that level of obsession where you stare at your hardback with regret every time you have to go out and do something in real life. And you're thinking frantically, “maybe I should just take it with me. I might have two minutes to read at a stop light or…while I’m waiting for the cashier to ring up my stuff. It could happen.” Thankfully I was blessed with both the audio and the print version of this book at the same time, so really there was so reason for me to stop reading this at any point (cashier's understand hand signals and vague nodding, am I right?). I basically inhaled it in one day.
The two storylines, which I so much wanted to see intersect in the last book, still haven’t come together but in this installment I found it hard to care. I found it hard to care about any of my qualms from the first book, actually. Everything about this series is just so dark and disturbing and complicated and awesome.
In the first book, the relationship between Sadima, Franklin, and Somiss really bothered me – I couldn’t understand why Sadima would cling to her foolish hopes and stick around when clearly, nothing was ever going to change. Well, in this book there was much resolution on that front and oh, how it broke my heart. I mean, the relationship was just as disturbing and I cringed every time Sadima and Franklin spoke to each other, but it was a respectful sort of cringe – like – fair play to you, Kathleen Duey, for writing a fucked up relationship so realistically. And there’s a fantastic twist with Sadima that just made my respect for her grow by leaps and bounds. When she finally acknowledges that her hopes are nothing but wishful fantasy, she doesn’t just give up. She keeps on fighting, and she pays the price for her daring.
Meanwhile, in Hahp’s world, his thoughts are becoming even more twisted and violent as he’s subjected to years of mental and physical torture. And he’s also becoming stronger magically, but not everyone in his “class” is succeeding quite as much as he is. Unfortunately for him, the wizard teachers seem bent on highlighting and even artificially enhancing the boys' strengths and weaknesses, in an effort to increase competition and jealousy among them. Should he just watch his classmates starve and die? Or can he find a way to bring them together so that the remaining boys might survive?
Honestly, I think that Hahp’s hopes for saving everyone are just as futile as Sadima’s hopes were of saving Franklin. And I think Kathleen Duey knows that too. So many fairy tales feature young boys and girls who are isolated, starved, abused, neglected…and then somehow emerge from that life whole and kind and just, ready to be heroes in their own right. I have to really respect Kathleen Duey for acknowledging that years of torture and abuse will leave a mark, and for writing this story with that in mind. Hahp and his classmates are genuinely disturbed, and as much as they might wish to do the right thing, it remains to be seen whether they are actually capable of that anymore. I would like to believe that they are, but I think it’s going to take a great deal of effort and healing to get there. And that ending was not promising. I mean, it was completely twisted and horrifying and I loved every minute of it, but it was not promising for Hahp and his classmates.
I’m so torn about where I want this book to go and at the same time, I am loving that I have no idea where it’s headed. I want Hahp to succeed in his plan to unite the boys and I want him to break free and find a quiet place to heal. But I also want him to become a powerful magician and murder everyone who’s ever done him wrong. I want Franklin to be redeemed. I also want Franklin to die. I want Sadima to safeguard magic forever and make sure it never again falls into the wrong hands. And I also want Sadima to storm the school of magic, flanked by a whole gang of immigrant women and show Somiss exactly where he can go. I am conflicted.
But the one thing that I am genuinely not conflicted about is that I really really want book three in this series ASAP. Please?
Perfect Musical Pairing
Sarah Jaffe – Hooray For Love