by Kolleen Fraser
Psst – The cover is a link
When Phoenyx Ember woke up in the burning remnants of a crater, she couldn’t remember anything except her name.
She is haunted by the blackness that envelops her past and the limitless power of fire coursing through her veins.
She is charged with a crime she doesn’t remember committing and shipped to the Academy, a home for the violent offenders and orphaned children of power. There, she will fight the darkness inside herself and look for answers to who she is and why her past was erased. Some secrets are meant to stay hidden.
I very rarely read books written in present tense and with so much exposition, so it took me a few chapters to get into the writing rhythm. That aside, the story had me hooked by halfway through the prologue. I know that a lot of people don’t like prologues, but don’t let that put you off reading this story. It is needed to understand the weight of Nyx’s past in later chapters.
As for Pheonyx (Nyx) Ember, wow. Fraser has done an amazing job of depicting a character whose life spirals out of control, again and again and again. There is no magic fix. No instant light at the end of the tunnel. I like how, even when some of the pieces have been picked up, Nyx still falls apart and wavers on the edge. She’s not suddenly perfect.
Ash is well written, and at some points you root for him, but mostly you wish someone would take him out and keep him there. Stupid idiot. At the same time, he is real and just wants out of a hopeless situation.
Silas on the other hand, just seems a little too perfect. Perhaps that is just the way Nyx sees him, and Fraser wanted the contrast between their lives, but I didn’t really warm to him.
Marcus, yes him. I was in two minds about him. Perhaps because we don’t get to see him in such fine detail like we do Nyx, but he really rubbed me the wrong way. Sure, he was trying to protect, but he did it such a ‘my way or the highway’ high-handed style, that I just wanted to strangle him. We know his past, and I understand where he’s coming from, but it didn’t make me like him any better. I wanted to, I really did but I didn’t relate to him the same way I did Nyx, even though the story is written from both their points of view.
Overall, the main characters were well depicted and mostly believable, which I very much enjoyed.
There were a few points in the story where there’s a non-intentional teleportation thing going on. First Nyx and Marcus are standing, then Marcus is pulling Nyx up from her knees even though she never got to them in the first place, and a second moment, when the girls are sneakily checking out the guys, get busted, start to walk away, pause to talk, then suddenly Ianna is holding two movies and they are on the couch in the common room.
Other than that, the story was fast paced with very few moments to draw breath, but that added to the tension of how fast Nyx’s life spiralled. It was less a story about cool-superpowers, and more a story of how hard it is to move on when your past was far from rosy. Even if you don’t remember it, the lasting impact on who you think you should be, is very, very real.
I found the story very enjoyable, and a great place to explore for a few hours.
The story is M15+ (course language and mild sex scenes)
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ – 4 stars
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