Friday, February 8, 2019

Review: Voice of Power by Melanie Cellier


In Elena's world words have power over life and death--but none more so than hers.

As the daughter of shopkeepers, Elena has always known that the mysteries of reading and writing were closed to her. Only the mageborn can risk harnessing the power unleashed from putting pen to paper. Until Elena discovers an impossible new ability and joins the elite ranks of the mages.

But with the kingdom at war, the authorities can't agree if Elena is an asset, or a threat they need to eliminate. Thrust into the unknown world of the Royal Academy without friends or experience, Elena will need all of her wits, strength, and new power to carve a place for herself.

Except as the attacks become more personal, wits and strength won't be enough. Elena will have to turn to new friends and an enigmatic prince to unlock the mysterious potential of her words and survive her first year as a trainee mage.

Melanie Cellier first came onto my radar with her Four Kingdoms and then her Beyond the Four Kingdoms series. I can't for the life of me remember how I first spotted them, because they aren't quite in the mainstream markets here. They need to be! My coworker and I devoured them, as did every teen or preteen I handed them off to, until I literally could not keep them on the shelves. Wonderfully entwined fairy tales, satisfying (but very 'clean') romances, character development, fairy godmothers, action, strong female characters - the perfect escape novels!

So of course I was excited to see Cellier had started a new series, but I have to say this first title blew me away. I'm not sure that I would have immediately recognized it as her work, and I mean that in all the good ways.

Cellier's writing has definitely grown and tightened up with practice (not that it was shabby to begin with!) This series, while there is still a teasing of romance to come, is much more firmly focused on character and world building, and is not as predictable as the earlier series. It reminded me for all the world of Sharon Shinn's books at times, and if you know anything of my tastes, you know that is a high compliment!

I read Voice of Power in stolen moments before I even got it cataloged (and it is already on hold for another Cellier fan). As I neared the end I simultaneously thought, "Oh good, I am almost finished," and "Oh no, I'm almost finished!" I was sucked into Elena's worries and triumphs, and was not at all willing to leave that world so soon. Unfortunately, while the second book is out, it is only on Kindle so far - which means I have to decide between my huge distaste for reading on a device, and the torture of having to wait for Voice of Command to come out in print!

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