GENRE: YA Fantasy
Gray Lexly, son of a
candlemaker, wants to escape his life of old-world technologies and study at
the prestigious Astra Academy, a school for arcanists—those who can wield
magic. But Gray has a major problem. Every night, as he sleeps, he’s visited by
monsters. When they injure Gray in his dreams, he wakes with the same wounds in
On the night Gray might
finally die in his nightmares, he is saved by the kind and mysterious Professor
Helmith, a powerful arcanist. She offers to protect Gray and invites him to
attend Astra Academy.
Before that can happen,
Gray must bond with a mystical creature to become an arcanist himself. Will he
bond with a unicorn? A pegasus? A kitsune? Whatever he bonds with will
determine his magical abilities, so he must choose wisely.
And when trouble finds
Professor Helmith, Gray must become powerful enough to help her and fend off
the terrible nightmares, before it’s too late…
“I don’t want to sleep,” I said. “The monsters will return. They’ll…”
My father lingered by the door, half inside my bedroom and half in the hall. He turned down the light of my oil lamp, though he didn’t snuff it out. The shadows in the corners of my room grew darker. I dared not stare at them.
“The monsters aren’t real, boy.” My father offered a gentle smile. “Those were just nightmares. Everyone has them occasionally.”
I sat on the edge of my bed, my posture stiff as I tried to act twice my age. With my throat tight, I lifted my left arm. An injury ran from the crux of my elbow all the way to the edge of my palm, scabbed over and red. It was a straight and shallow cut, but it stung worse than a normal wound.
“The monsters are real,” I said, defiant. “I told you—they attacked me.”
“Gray, we talked about this,” my father said, sighing.
His shoulders sagged and his eyes were heavy lidded. He looked tired. Probably because he was. Every day, he worked from sunup until sundown, mixing waxes and perfecting wicks. He was our island’s only tallow chandler—a person who made candles with oil, wax, and animal fat.
My father wore an apron marked with his profession, stained by the hot wax. He rubbed his blistered hands down his sides, no doubt trying to think of what to say. I already knew what he would eventually settle on.
He would say, “You just fell out of bed.”
“You just fell out of bed,” my father muttered.
And then he would say, “I know your arm hurts, but it was an accident. Just go to sleep.”
“I know your arm hurts.” My father half closed the door as he spoke. “But it was an accident. Just go to sleep.”
All those long hours working meant my father didn’t like dealing with problems. He was rather predictable. His most common advice was to just ignore my problems. “They’ll go away eventually,” he often muttered. “Keep your head down and do your work.”
That was easier for him, I supposed.
And although I knew he cared about me and my brother, I
sometimes feared he didn’t listen. The monsters in my dreams? They were real.
One had attacked me, and if I hadn’t woken up, it would’ve ripped me apart.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
is a multi-award-winning author of fantasy and science fiction. Before that,
she taught history and criminal law at the college level, and loved every
second. When she’s not reading fascinating articles and books about ancient
China or the Byzantine Empire, Stovall can be found playing way too many video
games, especially RPGs and tactics simulators, or hugging John.
If you want to
contact her, you can do so at the following locations:
GIVEAWAYa Rafflecopter giveaway
“Academy Arcanist” by Shami Stovall follows two brothers,
Gray and Sorin Lexly, who want a life beyond their father’s candlemaking
business. The dangers that follow Gray into his dreams prompt him to pursue his
desire to become an arcanist--if he can survive long enough to take the tests.
This young adult fantasy is the first book in the ‘Astra
Academy’ series, and returns to the creative world peopled by those who can
bond with all sorts of beings, including knightmares, reapers, kitsune, and
those rarest of eldrin, mimics. The adventures draw you in from the very first
page, as the mystery of how Gray is being attacked in his sleep is contrasted
with the struggle to get his parents to believe his troubles and the stalwart
support of his brother.
I loved the creativity and the kinship I felt with these
characters, including the insecurity of comparing oneself against others only
to discover they are dealing with their own issues. It’s great that Gray isn’t
perfect, and watching him learn from his mistakes while the brothers continue
to support each other is heartwarming. The secondary characters are intriguing,
and the layers of mystery that permeate the story make one anxious to keep
turning the pages. Naturally, there are some dangling threads to keep one
curious about the next story in the series, but this fun, action-packed story
had a fascinating arc that reached an exciting conclusion, and I can’t wait to
read about more adventures at this academy.
A copy of this title was provided for review