“Seduction was never accomplished in a single conversation, or on a single night. It had to begin slowly. You took people so far, then no further, and waited for them to travel the rest of the way to hell on their own. They always did, in the end.”
Nadia Caldani moved to Captive’s Sound, Rhode Island with her father and brother after her parents’ divorce. Despite being only half-trained as a witch, she was forced to face down Elizabeth, a sorceress who has held Captive’s Sound for centuries. With the help of Mateo and Verlaine, Nadia thought she had succeeded, but it soon becomes obvious that Elizabeth’s actions at Halloween were only the first part of her plan. With Mateo as her Steadfast, Nadia has more power than ever before, but she also has more questions, and no one to teach her. As Elizabeth moves to the next stage of her plan, and the citizens of Captive’s Sound begin falling to mysterious comas, Nadia becomes desperate for any way to gain the knowledge she needs to defeat the sorceress once and for all.
One of the best features of the Spellcaster series in the magic system built of memories and emotions. For a spell of revelation, Nadia must conjure three memories: fear conquered, love betrayed, and secrets laid bare. Every spell cast is an opportunity to develop the characters, and Gray uses this to advantage with both Nadia and Elizabeth. It also provides an integrated way to summarize and revisit some of the events from Spellcaster, as Nadia incorporates these new and powerful memories into her spell craft. Having Mateo as her Steadfast amplifies Nadia’s spells, but first love is also a powerful new ingredient in her spell casting arsenal, and one with unpredictable effects.
Verlaine was a standout character in Spellcaster as well, but in Steadfast, she becomes even more central to the story as she learns more about the curse Elizabeth cast on her, and helps Nadia and Mateo try to foil Elizabeth’s plans. Elizabeth’s reluctant demon servant, Asa, is set to watch the trio, but he finds himself spending more of his attention on Verlaine. Though Nadia and Mateo are suspicious of Asa, they find themselves being easily swayed by his persuasive whispers. Verlaine proves more challenging. While Verlaine has a great deal of sympathy for Asa, she refuses to let him manipulate her, and her sympathy seems to be slowly seducing the demon instead. Gray also incorporates a lot of wit and humour into her story, and many of the best lines come from Asa, particularly in his interactions with Verlaine.
Steadfast provides answers to some of the important threads left dangling at the end of Spellcaster. Why did Nadia’s mother leave her family so suddenly and unexpectedly, cutting her daughter off from her only teacher in the Craft? What does Elizabeth gain by casting a curse over Verlaine that prevents people from noticing her or loving her? However, there is still a lot to be answered for in Sorceress, particularly relating to the Cabot curse, and Nadia’s decisions in Steadfast will have far-reaching repercussions.
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