Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Volke has lived a difficult life in his few short years. His parents were criminals who are no longer in his life. Unfortunately for him, he lives in a place where individuals are judged by the deeds of the family. Volke is viewed by those around him as untrustworthy. He was basically orphaned at the age of 5 and adopted by/apprenticed to the gravedigger William. Volke desperately wants to flee that life and become an arcanist. He's studied hard and has a plan. Fortunately for him his adopted sister Illia has a plan as well.
Knightmare Arcanist was a solid book with clear inspirations that the author didn't bother to hide as she lists them in the description. Arcanists are people who bond themselves to magical creatures to share their power. These magical creatures can't grow stronger without bonding with a human. It's an interesting take on the typical coming of age tale. Volke himself is somewhat different as well as he's been punished for crimes his parents committed.
I have to say my biggest issue with this book is the description. I can not believe that the author spoiled the biggest twist in the description. If this point remains hidden it changes the whole feel of the book, but instead I knew the twist before I read the first page. I really am shocked any author would do such a thing. On top of that almost all the significant threads are tied up in one book. There seemed to be aspects worthy of being carried over multiple books. Oh well.
The main characters are largely stereotypes with the misunderstood hero, the damaged youth, the awkward youth, the perfect one, the arrogant one, and the one with rough edges. No real surprises from any of them. The magic carried the day, but it's largely Pokemon mixed with Cradle like power bonding. Throw in some young adult angst and you've got a nice YA book.
Knightmare Arcanist was what I've come to expect from the young adult genre. I just wish it offered more.
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