Radiant, Book 1: Ascension Series
by Ela Laurenco

"Heat spread throughout her body. Her magick hissed as a sudden pressure pushed at her from the inside."

For almost sixteen years Sena’s life has seemed fairly normal, at least normal for Xanos, a planet where race is defined by magical orientation. However, things are beginning to get a lot stranger for her as her birthday approaches. The weirdness starts when she hears a voice speaking cryptic words to her in the forest. Then, after bumping into a young singer in the woods, she finds herself pulled into a Hyios, a type of bubble in time and space. In the Hyios she encounters Sya, a mysterious young woman who shares with her secrets that alter everything Sena once believed about herself. Yet, as bizarre as these events might seem, they pale in comparison to the changes coming when the hourglass sand remaining in her fifteenth year finally runs out.

In this first book of her Ascension series, Lourenco shows off her skills as a world builder. Societies where magic use is normal is a common idea in the fantasy genre, but the concept of one’s magical ethnicity being discovered when a person turns sixteen is rather unique. Having gods control various people groups is also a fairly well-used plot device in this type of fiction, but the author’s take on these obviously flawed and finite beings is far from standard. Perhaps one of the more interesting features of her novel, however, is the abundance of strong female characters. Men are definitely present, but their significance in the narrative is greatly diminished from the norm.

The author’s book is a fast read, but it is still filled with enough complicated alliances, intriguing characters, and mystical elements to please most fantasy readers. It will be interesting to see how the series develops after such a promising start.

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