Vivatera, Candace J Thomas

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review in any way and the thoughts expressed are my own.

A new fantasy world set to take a unique look at magic. Naomi, a young girl with beautiful blonde hair, has always been different and not just because of her hair colour. Everyone is captivated by her and long to be close to her but her only friend is Zander. When Naomi sees another girl with the same star scar on her neck, she launches into a royal parade in hopes of talking to her. When the guards stop her and capture Zander, a mysterious boy appears and whisks her away.

Reynolds, the stranger, seems familiar to Naomi and reveals that he has been watching over her and knew her late guardian Malindra. Desperate to save Zander, and curious about the new man, Naomi agrees to go with Reynold in exchange for him rescuing her friend. Now the pair must travel to a safe haven without being captured by those that hunt them.

Meanwhile, Zander wakes to the horrors of the palace dungeon. He is imprisoned there for days until Prince Bryant offers him a job. Zander must serve the Prince and help him care for his love who he has hidden away within the palace. Sworn to keep the secret from everyone, even the King, Zander meets a charming woman with the same scar as Naomi.

I loved the characters in this book, especially Naomi and Zander. Watching Zander trying to overcome his stutter whilst struggling with world-altering dangers and trying to protect those he cares for. He is a kind-hearted and trusting boy even after everything he’s been through and really shows the goodness of everyday people, not just the epic heroes.

Many female protagonists, especially those in love triangles, enthral men with only a look. While Naomi does do this, her ‘charm’ is greatly attributed to the magic within her. It calls to others, makes them happy and makes people strive to be the best versions of themselves. I loved how the author took the concept of love at first sight and turned it into a complex form of magic. Throughout the entire book, I longed to know more about Naomi, who she was, why she had magic and what her magic was exactly. When it was finally revealed, I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed.

The love bubbling between Naomi and Reynolds was clear from the start and grew as their adventure continued. At first, I was uncomfortable with it since I thought Naomi was around thirteen (the same age as Zander) since she was described as being a small, young girl while Reynolds was referred to as a young man. However, it’s clarified when it states that she was invited to live with Zander’s father so that she could care for his young son plus it was revealed that there’s a nine-year age gap between Reynolds and Naomi (while large for teens, it’s better when you think of Naomi as being seventeen making Reynolds twenty-six). The author was great at displaying how you can have such deep and indescribable feelings for someone with little logic or reason.

In many fantasy novels, magic has always been a natural part of the world but not in this story. Instead of being a part of you like your soul, this magic feeds on people like a parasite within a host. This world didn’t originally have magic, but something years ago brought it forth for it to infect numerous people. From the prologue, it’s obvious Reynolds was the cause of infecting at least one person, Taren who still hates him for it. Taren has a unique perspective on others’ magic since he was able to look inside them and understand the very core of their magic. This was a great technique at really showing the reader what each type of magic, each person, was about.

This was a surprisingly great book with a unique magic system and interesting characters. The climax was exciting with plenty of twists, turns and reveals to keep everyone happy. I give it 5/5, it has become one of my favourites and am eagerly awaiting the next instalment in the series.

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