Friday, November 29, 2019

Review: Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Book: Nocturna
Author: Maya Motayne
Series: A Forgery of Magic
Publication: May 7, 2019

Set in a Latinx-inspired world, a face-changing thief and a risk-taking prince must team up to defeat a powerful evil they accidentally unleashed.

To Finn Voy, magic is two things: a knife to hold under the chin of anyone who crosses her…and a disguise she shrugs on as easily as others pull on cloaks.

As a talented faceshifter, it’s been years since Finn has seen her own face, and that’s exactly how she likes it. But when Finn gets caught by a powerful mobster, she’s forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.

After the murder of his older brother, Prince Alfehr is first in line for the Castallan throne. But Alfie can’t help but feel that he will never live up to his brother’s legacy. Riddled with grief, Alfie is obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.

But when Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power—which, if not contained, will devour the world. And with Castallan’s fate in their hands, Alfie and Finn must race to vanquish what they have unleashed, even if it means facing the deepest darkness in their pasts.

I was intrigued by this book for its Latinx world and magic system. There was a lot of cultural buzz about this book, so of course I had to pick it up.

The first thing I need to discuss: the magic system. Guys, the magic system. In this world, every person is born with the ability to control one of the four elements. Which is already pretty awesome, in my books. But to add to that, everyone has what's called a propio, which is a unique magical ability. For our main characters, Finn's propio is the ability to alter her physical appearance, and Alfie's is the ability to "see" other people's propio and change his own to resemble theirs (yes, it seems weird...but it turns out to trigger a huge disaster in the book).

I got a bit of A Darker Shade of London by V.E. Schawb vibes from it, with a great darkness accidentally released consuming innocent and unsuspecting people until proper hosts were found. But unlike A Darker Shade of London, the protagonists recognize it very early on and start off immediately to fix it. The main difference between the two (apart from A Darker Shade of London being an adult fantasy book) was the amount of psychological damage Finn and Alfie had, and how it affected their actions. There is quite a bit of recklessness and impulsiveness going on in the book, but it was paired with humour to keep it grounded. I questioned some of the actions of the characters, but it overall was justified in the end.

Though there were a few loose ends, the book overall concluded with a satisfactory ending, enough that it could have been considered a standalone. However, it apparently is a series, so I'm interested to see what strings the author decides to pull on.

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