Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures. Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day. Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be. Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.
Before this, I’ve only ever read two (one and half?) Adam Silvera books, They Both Die At The End and What If It’s Us. Nevertheless, I have seen so much excitement that he’s writing a fantasy novel. Plus, I’ll pretty much try any book that is queer and has phoenixes.
I have such mixed feelings about this book. I love some aspects to it and then there are other things that I’m not really a fan of. I honestly don’t know what feelings are about this book. I know I really, really liked it, but I don’t know! There were some parts I really didn’t like. I am just very confused about my feelings, more than usual when it comes to books haha.
To start off, I really, really like this concept. I’m always wary of fantasy books that have fantasy elements, but take place in the real world. I didn’t know that this takes place in the real world until I started it, so that threw me off balance right at the start. But I ended up really liking that aspect! The magic system is so well thought out and I loved how it was integrated into our world. I loved the creatures and the different types of magic. At the same time, I felt like I was just thrown into this world with little explanation as to what was happening. It took my a bit to figure everything out and I spent awhile confused about which pieces fit where. Once I figured that out though, I thought it was really awesome.
I think a lot of the overall themes fell flat for me. I can see what they were going for and they were executed well enough, but they were they were written was kind of cringey. Ah, I know! Just, it didn’t work for me personally. I feel like dramatic lines tried too hard to be dramatic and big moments tried too hard to be big moments. I feel like this book tried too hard at the wrong moments.
Also, it felt like things that were really personal to the author were slipped in there. I don’t want to knock that at all. I think it’s great and authors should be able to put little pieces of themselves into their books whenever they want! For me, it just felt like they didn’t mesh well with the rest of the story. For example, Emil struggles with body image issues. I actually really liked this aspect because YES, give me more boys who struggle with that. It’s something that needs to be represented more. But, I felt like it was awkwardly brought up. It just felt like it didn’t fit where it was placed.
I don’t know what I think of this book! I know I already said that, but I’m realizing that the things I really liked are tied with things I didn’t like, and it’s making me very confused. I somehow liked some things while not liking them at the same time. So, characters. I love Emil. He’s so sweet. It was cool to see someone thrust into power who doesn’t want it so desperately. I hated Brighton. He’s such a freaking jerk and he’s such a well written jerk. I cannot wait to see where his character is going to go, because I feel it’s going to be brilliant.
There were also a lot of other characters. Some of them had POVs and some of them didn’t. I liked them all. While I wish more focus could have been on Emil and Brighton and Ness, I did really enjoy things that happened outside them. It added another dimension to the book and allowed a fuller understanding of this world and it’s players.
Alright, towards the end of this book is where things start to get nuts. It was really, really amazing and my mind is blown. I honestly gasped out loud when something happened and then directly after that I yelled “WHAT!” out loud. That amazing. I should have known it would happen, but I didn’t because Adam Silvera wrote a character so amazingly. I saw what he was trying to do throughout the book. The plot really took off and strings started to come together and things got so much more intense.
Overall, I really liked this book. There were things I didn’t like and they overshadowed my overall feelings a bit more than usual. Still, I can’t wait to read book two. I can’t believe it ended like it did. I can’t believe what happened! I can’t wait for more creatures and more magic and more queerness.
Thank you for reading!