Booklist Reviews

Eves' first novel combines historical fiction, magical powers, class struggles, and revolution to mixed effect in the story of 17-year-old Anna Arden. Born without magic to a wealthy and powerful family in mid-nineteenth-century Britain, Anna is an embarrassment whose only magical power seems to be making other people's spells go wrong. After she inadvertently ruins her sister's London debut, Anna and her Hungarian grandmother are sent to Hungary to lie low. But here Anna discovers fascinating, incredibly handsome Gabor, a Romani who initially despises her but eventually agrees to teach her Romani magic. She's caught up in her desire for him, while fending off the attentions of her third-cousin Matyas and the determined Scottish rebel who hopes to convince Anna to lead a revolution and release magical powers for all, not just the wealthy. It's easy enough to follow the many plot threads, but harder to build a real connection to Anna, who is more a Harlequin heroine than thinking rebel. Still, it's refreshing to see romance and rebellion cheek by jowl. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

Victorian rebellion among the Magyar and the magical creatures of Hungary and Eastern Europe: the táltos, lidérc, and rusalka.In a 19th-century Europe where the nobility's political power is reinforced by their magic, Anna is a failure among the highborn Luminate of London: she's Barren of magic. Though her supernatural sterility leaves her unsuitable for marriage, Anna has dreams. All her hopes crumble into dust, however, when her mysterious, uncontrollable ability to shatter magic destroys her sister's debut. Packed off to stay with poor cousins in Hungary, Anna's promptly drawn into the anti-imperial, democratic fervor spreading across Europe. Against the backdrop of the real-life Hungarian rebellion to bring down the Hapsburgs, Anna comes to love Hungary, befriends passionate student rebels, and learns that her Barrenness is (of course) a unique, potentially earth-shattering power. Narrator Anna, a white British woman of rank, questions her feelings for the hand some Romani, Gábor, who helps Anna negotiate the pros and cons of saving the world: freedom for the Magyar will also free Hungary's dangerous mythological creatures. Confident of her righteousness, Anna alternately scolds her family for saying "Gypsy" instead of "Romani," feels annoyance at Gábor for accusing her of slumming it with an exotic lover, and exoticizes the Romani herself. Intrigue, romance, and revolution, with enough unanswered questions that fans will cross fingers for a sequel. (author's note, bibliography, character list, glossary) (Fantasy. 13-15) Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Eves's captivating debut opens in London in 1847. Highborn magicians known as Luminates rule Europe, and a spell dubbed the Binding precludes proletarian insurrection by restricting the use of magic to those with noble blood. Enter Anna Arden, a 16-year-old of noble birth who can't cast spells, and will therefore never be accepted into Luminate society. When an unfortunate incident reveals that Anna has a singular talent for breaking spells, she is beset by requests from rebels to undo the Binding. Anna is sympathetic to their cause but knows that Luminate officials would kill to maintain the status quo, so she decamps to Hungary. A class war is brewing there, too, forcing Anna to decide between playing it safe but remaining a nobody and risking everything for the chance to transform the world. This richly imagined historical fantasy enchants while contemplating sexism, classism, and how best to effect social change. Intrigue, action, and star-crossed romance abound, propelling this trilogy opener toward a heartbreaking yet hopeful conclusion. Ages 12–up. Agent: Josh Adams, Adams Literary. (Mar.)

Copyright 2017 Publisher Weekly.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 8 Up—In 1847 London, Anna Arden's family belongs to the Luminates, the ruling class whose power is derived from magic. Only members of this society have access to magic, which is held in reserve in the Binding. Anna has a complicated relationship with magic; she finds it much easier to break spells than to create them. Because of this unfortunate development, she is banished to Hungary with her grandmother. Hungary is in the midst of civil unrest in response to the Luminates' monopoly on magic. A rebellion is beginning; the people want access to the magic as well as the same rights and privileges enjoyed by the nobility. With Anna's ability to break spells, she could undo the Binding. Realizing that her power can do some good, she becomes swept up in the spirit of the cause, finally feeling like she belongs. But is breaking the Binding the right thing to do? Gabour, a Romani man who can practice magic, supports the revolution, but he is against Anna breaking the Binding. Torn between two worlds, Anna must ultimately decide the best course of action, even if it means disappointing the ones she loves. The open ending invites readers to follow the story in this proposed trilogy's forthcoming volumes. VERDICT Despite its 400-page length, this is an enjoyable, fast-paced read with a likable protagonist with whom teens will identify. Recommended for most YA collections.—Lisa Wurch, Cuyahoga County Public Library, OH

Copyright 2016 School Library Journal.