Heir of Shadows

Author: Kel Carpenter

Series: Daizlei Academy

My rating: 4.5 stars

Selena looked out for her two sisters ever since their parents died. Being the strongest & most powerful of her sisters, she took all the responsibility for their rebellious actions & looked out for them in every capacity. But there’s only so much a teen can do, and when her sister Alexandra exposes her magical abilities in a fit of rage, they end up in a school for supernaturals like themselves. But Selena and her sisters have many secrets to hide, not the least of which is that Selena is more powerful than she lets on, and has severe mental & control issues. Will Daizlei Academy be the right fit for Selena & her sisters, or will their secrets be too much even among their own kind?

This isn’t the cheery light magical Harry Potter type of magic school story. Selena has a lot of mental issues, mostly connected to her problems of keeping her powers dormant, but she also has relationship & trust issues, stress from trying to keep her sisters safe, and then difficulties with figuring out her own life once her sisters no longer rely on her so much. I’m no mental health professional, so I can’t really diagnose her issues or determine how accurately they were portrayed, but I can say that it was very well written.

Instead of being the typical story of a super-powerful girl whose only obstacle is the fear of heights, Selena’s extremely strong powers pain her & her blood lust & inner demons give her no peace. After years of neglect & keeping secrets, she also has trust issues and a hard time making friends or forming relationships. I related to Selena’s need for isolation (although hers was unhealthily extreme) and had fun every time Selena pissed everyone off with her very blunt attitude. Her relationship with her sisters also felt very realistic – at times they were the closest and most loving friends, at other times, they were in a fight and couldn’t stand each other.

The emotional issues were deep and very well addressed. The writing was captivating with comparisons easy to identify with. Selena used boxing as a physical relief, and the descriptions of her fights were bloody and engaging.

Despite the mental health issues and her constant struggle to suppress her emotions in an effort to control her magic, the story wasn’t dark and depressing. It was dark and engrossing and powerful. If you like deeply developed characters, then I highly recommend this book. There’s a lot of great magic. It’s still a magical school genre story, but on a slightly darker and deeper level than Harry Potter type books. It’s YA, but I’d recommend it for older teens and definitely for adults. The usual YA books are focused on teens with magic and their first romantic relationship. While there was a bit of romance at the very end, it was, thankfully, not the focus of this book. It has so much more to offer instead.

I really enjoyed this book. I read it in one sitting over the weekend, then hurried to read the next book right after. (It does not end on a cliffhanger – no worries there.)

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