In Kalin Matthew’s world, elementals control the forces of nature. They are divided into four courts: air, woodland, fire, and water. At sixteen she will leave the life she’s built with her mortal mother. Kalin will move to Avalon to rule with her father—the elemental king of the air court. Along the way, she’s attacked by a fire court assassin and saved by Rowan, a swoon-worthy elemental with a questionable past.
Worst of all, she learns her father is missing.
To rescue him, Kalin will have to work with a judgmental council and a system of courts too busy accusing each other of deceit to actually be able to help her. But, they aren’t her biggest challenge. With the Midwinter’s Ball only five days away, Kalin must take over her father’s duties, which includes shifting control of the elements—power Kalin has yet to realize.
As Rowan attempts to train her, a war looms between the four courts. If Kalin fails, her father will die and the courts will fall, but the betrayal she’s about to uncover may cost her even more…
Mortal Enchantment is an indie-published young adult fantasy title that, while technically the first in the series, is the second title published by the author. The first story, The Shadow Prince, was a free novella released ahead of this book. I was rather a fan of it at the time. Not only was it a true novella (so many YA novellas charged for by publishers are really short stories), but I thought it did a great job of introducing the world and set up the rules for that world. Theoretically, you shouldn’t need to read that, to read this, but I strongly recommend that you do so. Although it does take away the mystery of Rowan, I can’t help but shake the feeling that this short novel was written assuming that you’d read the other title. I feel like O’Neale didn’t take the time to really set up the world of the Elementals for us in this book the way she did her novella. If you haven’t read it, it wouldn’t surprise me if you got lost. This lack of build up comes off a little worse because this novel is so short at barely 230 pages.
That (somewhat significant) gripe aside, how does it hold up to The Shadow Prince?
I liked the novella better.
As mentioned, you get the meat of the world building in the novella, and I think the characters we met there are just plain more interesting. Kalin is nice enough, but she’s kind of a bland and doesn’t leave much of an impression one way or another. Her handler, Ariel, also comes off as a rather generic teen as well. For a teenager who moves to a palace in a whole new realm, I don’t feel like there’s enough different between the two locales as perhaps they should be.
Unfortunately, the plot is also weaker than that of The Shadow Prince. There is intrigue, but it doesn’t feel as significant as it did in the novella, and we don’t get to know the players of this novel well enough, so that when you find out who is betraying whom it kind of leaves you shrugging your shoulders, instead of feeling anger or shock or any stronger emotion at the revelation.
Overall, I don’t think that Mortal Enchantment is bad. It’s just that The Shadow Prince was so good that I had heightened expectations for it. What we got though, was a pretty conventional young adult fantasy title that doesn’t really do anything too unique or different. It’s not bad, it’s just not as fresh. I think this book will hit the spot for the main audience, but for everyone else, I recommend The Shadow Prince instead.
Verdict: Borrow It