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Nocturna by Maya Motayne
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really liked it
bookshelves: advanced-copy, debut-author, fantasy, magic, part-of-a-series, ya, may2019


Title: Nocturna
Series: A Forgery of Magic #1
Author: Maya Motayne
Release date: May 7, 2019
Genre: YA fantasy

There were several things that attracted me to trying out this book: It's the first in a new series, the Latinx inspired worldbuilding, the face changing thief, and a potentially complex magic system. This was before I even saw the gloriousness of that mosaic cover. How stunning is that? Not only is it beautiful to look at, it's a perfect representation of San Cristobal's palace. I was very excited to introduce myself to this new series, and I found quite a lot to enjoy.

“Everything has its season,” his father had once told him. Did his mourning have a season? Would it peel away from him, like petals peeled from stems as winter marched ever closer?

Prince Alfehr is returning home from a solitary voyage following the unexpected and tragic death of his older brother who had been set to inherit the throne. Due to the circumstances of his assassination, Alfehr refuses to accept that his beloved brother is truly gone. Ravaged by grief, he clings to the hope that there is a chance to bring him back from the magic void he disappeared into. Everyone around him has seemed to accept that the prince who was raised to lead the kingdom, the more worthy man in his eyes, is lost forever. But he has been on a desperate hunt to unearth any knowledge or magic that could restore his family. In the beginning, his grief is still overwhelming. His desperation causes him to act without thinking of the possible consequences. I wasn't sure what to think of him at first to be honest. On the one hand, you could feel the weight of his loss and couldn't really blame him for not wanting to let go. On the other, you come to realize that he has a lot of character growth to achieve because he shows through several selfish acts that he's correct in his belief that he's not prepared to rule as his brother was.

He tends to only think of how things will affect himself, or how they will affect things short term. You can't really blame him for not having the capacity to make the decisions of a ruler as a secondborn son. However, he chooses to sacrifice the safety of his entire kingdom because he can't bear the thought of losing his best friend so close on the heels of his brother's death. Just thinking about the countless lives lost, slaughtered so that one person could live is much more than an irresponsible screw up. The dark magic he unleashed may have been mysterious to him, but there could be no doubt that it was the wrong thing to do to let it escape. In addition, he proves his selfishness again by keeping his actions from Paloma, his childhood tutor. Knowing that she has vital information on how to stop and possibly imprison the magic once again didn't sway him in coming clean. He was more worried about getting into trouble for his actions and had to figure everything out with very little to go on.

Finn Voy is a rebellious, morally grey character that first comes into contact with Alfehr at an illegal magic card game. I have to say, I really enjoyed their first meeting. Her face changing propio was exciting and intriguing to see in action. She's a drifting thief who's on the run from the man who raised her, willing to say or do anything to keep her anonymity and hard won freedom. She doesn't seem to have much of a moral compass at the start. You don't get an idea of the history that led her to this point in her life, only that her experiences were horrific and traumatizing. She's done unforgiveable things in order to stay alive and survive, and believes there is no good left in herself to redeem. So she hardens her heart and distances herself from her past, setting down roots, and attachments to other people. To avoid looking inside herself, she dons changeable masks to bury who she really is under bravado.

She’d spent so much time drowning in her past that she hadn’t been able to swim to the surface and see a future for herself that wasn’t stained with blood and fear.

Finn is completely self-serving. She plays a small part in how the voracious dark magic is set free, but my sympathies did come out with her. There's always a small flicker of desire to cling to the girl she once was before the loss of her parents. Finn and Alfehr share a desire to rise above who they are and become better people. I think you will really start to see them shine in later books.

I thought Motayne pulled off the action scenes very well. They were grittier than I was expecting and high on the suspense. They joined forces, racing against the clock to find a way to stop catastrophic events that were in the balance. Endless night, mankind turning into monsters, and the death of all things good would soon be a reality if they were unable to stop what they set in motion.

The romance wasn't heavy at all, the possibility was simply set in some groundwork towards the end. Mainly they had a grudging respect for each other that graduated into a tentative friendship. Finn is very much still a loner, and being vulnerable to another person is not high on her priorities. Out of all of the characters, she was my favorite because no matter how she tried to hide her fears and weaknesses, they always revealed themselves when they needed to be seen. She did have redeeming qualities that were proven to exist in the final confrontation that give you real hope for her future.

There was a bit of an info dump in this first installment, and at times the pace dragged in the first half. The last half made up for it, and I was happily surprised that there was no suspenseful cliffhanger. This is a promising debut that generally fulfilled my expectations. Character growth as well as expansion of the continuing storyline is realistically feasible. I have some theories about possible future conflicts in the following books and I'm looking forward to seeing the direction that the author takes.

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Reading Progress

April 27, 2019 – Started Reading
April 27, 2019 – Shelved
April 29, 2019 –
51.0%
April 29, 2019 – Shelved as: advanced-copy
April 29, 2019 – Shelved as: debut-author
April 29, 2019 – Shelved as: fantasy
April 29, 2019 – Shelved as: magic
April 29, 2019 – Shelved as: part-of-a-series
April 29, 2019 – Shelved as: ya
April 29, 2019 – Shelved as: may2019
April 30, 2019 – Finished Reading

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