Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review: Magic Academy: The Fire Test by E.R. Ross

Magic Academy Book One: The Fire Test by E.R. Ross
October 22nd, 2105

*I received this book for in exchange by the author. 

This review is also crossposted to Twinja Book Reviews
I read this book a few months back and whoa! Can one say awesome!

Nearly everyone I know is a Harry Potter fan. Can't say I'm any different. What bugs me the most about Harry Potter, despite it's amazing story telling and world building, is that it's not the most diverse story. Characters in passing are different races, but they're not important. I didn't canon Hermoine as a girl of color, because I hadn't read them until watching the movies, so I wasn't lucky enough to see someone outside of Emma Watson(which she did justice regardless btw).

 Anyway, back to my review...The Fire Test is Book One in the Magic Academy planned series, that chronicles a group of misfits battling the dangers of a mysterious labyrinth of death, upon receiving invitations to a sorcery academy.

They all have one thing in common. They all oppose a corrupt king, but neither of them know how or why they were summoned to he labyrinth.

There are about seven main characters, and a rouge character everyone knows very little about, but I believe Lace, a princess from a poor region is the main character.  But other characters include some hotties like Arif, a pirate who can control weather. Cannon, a warlock type who can heal. Delia, the former queen of the corrupt king. A man known as "One Eye", who can view the Spirit World, and is also mute, as well as his companion Violet, a former sex slave, with the ability to control plants and animals.

But all those pale in comparison when it comes to Raj, a former Monk, with great spiritual abilities, who's also from Lace's past, and possibly dangerous.

Imagine being stuck with all these misfits, and not know who to trust!

I think this book is somewhat a YA/NA hybrid. Lace is 19, so she's technically still a teenager, but the decision making she's forced to do make her a little more adult than most teenagers. She has the ability to see, read and control auras. Unfortunately she crosses paths with Raj, and each and every character slowly becomes a part of the party the further they go into the labyrinth.

I'm a huge Final Fantasy fan. Probably too big to be considered normal, and this book reminds me of a Final Fantasy video game. The world building takes us out of our current world, as we get to navigate a world where magic is the norm, as well as explore secondary world politics.

I think I would've liked the book to be a little longer, because there seemed to be a lot of action, with few breather moments to get to know every character with the same amount of time, but the twist in the end gets me, hehe!

As far as the diversity goes, Lace, the main character is Black. And she's awesome considering the labyrinth blocks her abilities. She's vulnerable and strong at the same time. Sometimes with female characters you get one or the other, but real people can be both!

Raj is also Black, which I kept thinking his was South Asian based on how his hair is described, as well as his name. He was really mysterious, and I hope to learn more about that controversial past many have heard about him.

Arif seemed very sexy! Since it's a different world, I wasn't sure if he were South Asian, or Persian, or North African, but I cannoned him South Asian. He was my favorite character, but I think One Eye stood out the most.

His character didn't speak. And that was ok. He was mute, and no one ever tried to change that. They just found other ways to understand him. As a person with a disability, he was allowed to just be, without it being a negative side to his story, and it wasn't used to hold anyone back, which is what I always fear in reading characters with disabilities.

One thing that rubbed me the wrong way was that Lace, being where she was from, and the color of her skin, made Delia assume she was a slave. I wondered why her being Black/dark skinned meant she was automatically assumed one, especially since she was a princess herself. Maybe as the series goes it, it might explain if there is something deeper to why someone dark skinned is automatically seen to be be poor, servants or slaves, but since the book is on the shorter side, that was a question I didn't get answered...

But the cover is friggin' slammin' ! It so captures the way I picture Lace, and there's even intros for each character in the beginning of the credits! I wont say every single character is memorable, because some just get more extensive back stories than others, but they are described well!

You can add it to your Goodreads shelf by clicking here! I couldn't find a purchase link, but when I see one, I'll update it here too!