Ten years ago, the Goddesses of Life and Death decided to play a little game. Their game board, a settlement town called Elysium, set amidst a stark desert landscape.
The inhabitants, the game pieces, scurrying around like the ants in A Bug’s Life, trying to gather up enough sacrificial materials to please the Goddesses once the ten years are up.
Within the settlement, an elder witch, Mother Morvena, seeks her replacement. She is nearing the end of her life, and as the settlement’s unofficial leader, someone needs to take over her duties.
Sal Wilkerson has never quite fit in. She’s different than the other girls and has few friends. She lost her mother to the Dust Sickness and has found it hard trying to make it on her own.
She knows she is meant to be a leader, but getting others to see her as such will be a battle. Her recurring false visions of rain aren’t helping matters.
But when Mother Morvena selects Sal as her successor, things change. Sal begins to see how she can truly contribute and discovers her powers as a witch.
Her new found celebrity is dimmed, however, when a new man arrives in town.
A magician named, Asa, who happens to be a Daemon in disguise! All the townsfolk are completely enamored with him and constantly after him to perform tricks.
When a magical duel between Sal and Asa goes horribly wrong, the entire fate of the game has been ruined. Blamed for the catastrophic result, they face excommunication and Asa disappears.
Now alone, Sal is tossed outside the border wall and forced to survive in the desert, where cannibals are said to lurk.
When all hope seems to be lost, Sal finds her salvation. A badass group of girls, the leader of which was also kicked out of Elysium for bad behavior.
The group takes Sal in, along with Asa, who just couldn’t keep away from those darn humans. They form a beloved found family that was an absolute delight to read.
Together they plan to get back in the game and save all of Elysium from the clutches of Death.
Y’all this book was so much fun to read. Super unique and absolutely full of action. I loved the setting, a sort of magical Deadwood meets Mad Max: Fury Road, and if that isn’t reason enough to pick it up, I’m not sure what is.
I loved both Sal and Asa, as well as many of the side characters. They were full of grit and fun to follow. I really started rooting for this girl gang.
They were smart, tough and never afraid of a fight. The giant mechanical horse on the cover is in the story as well, so there’s that!
The whole way through I was so into it. Thinking all along, this is a 5-star read, but then, the last 20% sort of lost me.
I found it confusing, it was going so fast and there were multiple twists thrown in right at the end. I still don’t really understand the conclusion. I guess if I would have had more information on the world outside of Elysium, it may have solved some of the uncertainties.
With this being said, this is still a highly enjoyable read. One that I can treasure for its magical narrative and captivating setting.
I would urge anyone who finds the synopsis interesting to pick it up. I do not think you will be disappointed.
Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy of this to read and review. I had so much fun with it and look forward to seeing what Kate Pentecost dreams up next!