Genres: Young Adult, YA Fantasy | Release Date: 19 February 2022 | Series: Althuria Chronicles | Series Book: #1 | Pages: 317 | Indie Author | Review
I always manage to find some wonderful reads via Book Sirens, and Smoke and Spells is no exception! Ryver Knight has set up a very intense (and magically complex) world, one which I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in. Our leading lady in Smoke and Spells is Asha, a hardworking young girl who’ll turn 16 in this novel. Asha has been working as a cleaner within the Arena, but it’s a thankless task and she longs for more. When Asha gets notified that she has been accepted into the Luminus Academy, she is determined to leap at this chance to better her life…
However, there’s always got to be more to the story than just a simple tale of success, right? Asha is meant to lie low and not draw attention to herself, but with the Queen about to visit the Academy it’s not easy to hide in the shadows. With a very rare and powerful magic at Asha’s fingertips, our heroine is struggling to maintain both control and secrecy. What’s more, there are girls being murdered at the Academy and no one can figure out why. What links all of these girls? And why does Asha’s friends think that she’s next? Can they identify who is behind this terrifying spate of murders?
I haven’t read an academy based setting for a little while, so it was wonderful to have that dictate our characters’ movements here, and I enjoyed hearing about what was being taught! This environment allowed Ryver to impart knowledge to us without it feeling too dense or heavy, which was wonderful.
I want to also acknowledge the very, very delightful and poignant way that Ryver has made mention of things not always being black and white, and how life can often demand both physical and mental strength. It isn’t enough to have someone just be either completely good or evil, and Smoke and Spells treats us to characters with complex depths. It was a breath of fresh air, because we aren’t always lucky enough to find that in a story.
There are also some surprises along the way in the first book of the Althuria Chronicles, and I love that! Asha is a plucky heroine. She believes in justice, and refuses to let the murderer get away with any more deaths. With such a strong conviction at play, Smoke and Spells is a very enjoyable and immersive read.
I have to admit, I tend to get annoyed when characters do something without properly telling their loved ones. Maybe I’m getting old and tetchy? When Asha left for the Academy, I was annoyed that she only leaves a note for her sister. Things are resolved, but I felt like Althea deserved better after years of looking after Asha. Even if there was an argument, it would’ve been kinder to say goodbye in person.
Having said that, I do realise some leeway has to be granted, as Asha is a teenager and this was her big opportunity. It’s just my own personal gripe, and truly I shouldn’t actually want absolutely perfect characters – that’d be boring!
I loved Smoke and Spells, and I am overjoyed that the next book is ready to go on my app. Yes, this first book in the Althuria Chronicles ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, but all good series do! I am completely invested in both the world and in Asha’s journey, and can’t wait to see what happens next with her magic. If you want an academy based fantasy, that will likely branch out to a wider realm from book two onward, complete with big power plays and the threat of death… Smoke and Spells is definitely for you.
You can order via my Amazon link: Smoke and Spells