By: Shami Stovall
Release Date: June 18, 2019
Publisher: Capital Station Books
Series: Frith Chronicles #1
Award: B.R.A.G. Medallion for Fantasy; New Apple Literary Award for Fantasy; Coffee Pot Book Club's Pick for 2020 Reading
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)
Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall is the first book in the young adult book series the Frith Chronicles. Shami is the author of two series, including the Frith Chronicles and The Sorcerers of Verdun.
Knightmare Arcanist is a high fantasy that opens on the small island of Ruma. Volke Savan and his adoptive sister Illia are gravediggers. But Volke has always dreamed of being one of the legendary arcanists, people who have forged a bond with a mythical creature. Together, they wield magic in order to keep order and bring peace to the world—veritable heroes from old tales and Volke’s storybooks. But there are rumors surrounding the arcanists, and not all heroes may be what they seem.
This is a fun, fast paced novel that keeps you hooked right from the first page. The story gets rolling very quickly and doesn’t let up until nearly the last page. Volke is a likable character. His readiness for adventure and headstrong attitude are tempered, sometimes by his Illia and sometimes by the harsh realities the world showed him at a very young age.
Sometimes people can’t be as readily or easily judged as one thinks. This is something Volke, and others throughout the novel, need to learn the hard way. Heroes in stories aren’t always the same as when you meet them in real life. Moreover, stories about the outside world sometimes paint a prettier picture than reality.
While living in a small community on a tiny island poses its own problems, Volke soon learns that the outside world may not be as tempting as it always sounded. A plague is spreading throughout the world, one that attacks mythical creatures arcanists are bound to, leaving only destruction behind. On top of that, there are rumors that Gregory Ruma, founder of Vilke’s village and veritable hero, might not be all he seems.
Witty banter abounds within this book. Volke, Illia, and many supporting characters are quite likable, and those who aren’t likable are quite interesting. However, there is a lack of character development, particularly among the supporting cast. This leaves several characters feeling a little flat, but as with all series, it isn’t a stretch to assume that further books will remedy this.
Unlike other series, the first book is an all-encompassing story. No cliffhanger ending here. There’s buildup and plot payoff for those who like a one-book plot arc. Additionally, there is plenty of room left to explore the fascinating world that’s built throughout the novel.
Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall is compulsively readable and perfect for rainy weekend at home. I would love to continue with the series and can’t wait to read more.