Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book courtesy of the author.
“Maybe it was stupid to feel more nervous about coming back to school than she did about facing down Elizabeth, but she did. She couldn’t let herself freak about Elizabeth, so she ended up channeling all her fear into high school.”
Having sworn herself to the One Beneath in a desperate attempt to figure out how to defeat Elizabeth, Nadia must now face the consequences of her oath while also trying to dig up inside information that will help her, Verlaine, and Mateo prevent the apocalypse. But Elizabeth has her own plans for Nadia’s apprenticeship, and she won’t allow friends or family to keep her from delivering Nadia to the One Beneath, heart as well as soul. As Nadia spends more time with Elizabeth, her power grows, but so does the temptation of dark magic. Bound by her vows, Nadia is forced to help Elizabeth bring down a flood on Captive’s Sound that will dissolve the final boundaries between earth and hell. As reality frays, the citizens of Captive’s Sound become increasingly suspicious that something supernatural is going on, breeding mistrust and fear when people most need to work together.
In the final volume of the Spellcaster trilogy, Claudia Gray pits the forces of hell against…Team Not Evil. Though Nadia has become a sorceress, both Verlaine and Mateo are cursed, and Asa continues to defy Elizabeth while being bound to the One Beneath, these compromised souls are all that stands between Captive’s Sound and the end of the world. The deep secrecy of the Craft that was long intended to protect it leaves Nadia and her friends with few resources and even fewer allies for the final battle. Though circumstances are dark and desperate, there are still plenty of humourous quips in the face of adversity, as the name Team Not Evil might suggest.
One of the standouts features of Spellcaster and Steadfast was Gray’s magic system, which draws power from the memories and emotions of the witch. In the first two books, the memories were a great way to get to know the characters and naturally incorporate background information. In Sorceress, with the characters well established, the spells become the best way to show how Elizabeth is slowly twisting Nadia, and bending her to the service of the One Beneath. Elizabeth also shapes her experiences, forcing her to gain the memories of pain and isolation that are necessary for casting dark magic.
Nadia and Mateo’s relationship remains under fire from Elizabeth, with the added complication that as her Steadfast, his presence can actually increase the power of any dark magic Nadia is forced to perform. However, it is Verlaine and Asa whose improbable romance comes to the fore. Haunted by the fact that the One Beneath could require him to kill Verlaine at any time, Asa pushes her to seek out ancient and forbidden knowledge about how to kill a demon so that she will be able to protect herself from him, and their star-crossed romance steals the show.
Gray drives towards a tense and fast-paced conclusion. The point-of-view shifts quickly between characters, and there is a lot going on in many places at once. Carefully laid out elements from the previous installments come seamlessly together in unexpected ways to create a satisfying conclusion to the Spellcaster trilogy.
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