Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron. Growing up in Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her. While some are born with a talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she chose knowledge. However, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true: she is left without a patron.
Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, she reluctantly accepts. But there is much more to his story, for there is a dangerous plot to overthrow the king of Maevana—the rival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the throne.
With war brewing, Brienna must choose which side she will remain loyal to: passion or blood.
What it is: YA fantasy set on two islands, inspired by medieval France and Celtic England.
What it’s about: a girl who can relive her ancestor’s memories, struggling to find her place in a world where rebellion is brewing. Also, big picture, it’s about fighting for an overthrown matriarchy and returning the rightful queen to the throne.
Who it’s by: debut author Rebecca Ross
Best bits: the protagonist’s relationships with her female friends, the Celtic-inspired world, the opening third in the magic academy, and the later sections of the book where the protagonist goes undercover in her ancestor’s home.
The protagonist is: a YA fantasy protagonist with a love for history
The love interest is: a sophisticated but distant-seeming teacher with a secret past
The villain is: a cruel power mad king sitting on a stolen throne
Read it if: you like stories of rebellion, history and magic, and you’re rooting for the matriarchy.
Skip it if: you need your ship to be central, or any kind of teacher/student thing creeps you out.