Hello, everyone! Today is my stop on TheWriteReads blog tour for Academy Arcanist by Shami Stovall. Thank you so much to TheWriteReads and the author for allowing me to be a part of the tour!
Book Info & Links
Hopes. Dreams. And literal nightmares out to kill a young boy.
Gray Lexly, son of a candlemaker, wants to escape his life of old-world technologies and study at the prestigious Astra Academy, a school for arcanists—those who can wield magic. But Gray has a major problem. Every night, as he sleeps, he’s visited by monsters. When they injure Gray in his dreams, he wakes with the same wounds in real life…
On the night Gray might finally die in his nightmares, he is saved by the kind and mysterious Professor Helmith, a powerful arcanist. She offers to protect Gray and invites him to attend Astra Academy.
Before that can happen, Gray must bond with a mystical creature to become an arcanist himself. Will he bond with a unicorn? A pegasus? A kitsune? Whatever he bonds with will determine his magical abilities, so he must choose wisely.
And when trouble finds Professor Helmith, Gray must become powerful enough to help her and fend off the terrible nightmares, before it’s too late…
***Thank you to TheWriteReads and the author for providing a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***
I was intrigued by this book from the opening chapters. The mystery of the killer dream monsters had me hooked, and I just knew I needed to learn more about the magic system. The writing was engaging and easy to read. The pace was steady, and I kept wanting to read just one more chapter, which led to me flying through the entire story in just a couple of days. However, there was some repetition in the words and phrases that got annoying at times and caused me to skim a bit.
There was one major speed-bump in my desire to finish this book. The main character, Gray. At the beginning of the story, this boy was obnoxious. He constantly thought horrible things about his brother, other family members, and his home. He also came across as really arrogant, as if he was better than it all. I honestly think it was a coping mechanism for his inferiority complex, especially his thoughts about his brother. I warmed up to him eventually and even came to appreciate his bullheadedness. It helped him to never give up when things got tough, which came in really handy throughout the story as monsters and people continued to try to kill him.
I liked all the other characters. Gray’s twin brother Sorin was an absolute cinnamon roll with unbridled optimism and a love for poetry. The other classmates and teachers all had unique characteristics that made them stand out, as well. However, I never felt like I really got to know them all that well, except for maybe Nini a little. In a way, that makes sense because Gray was a bit of an outcast, but I wish they’d all been more fleshed out. It seemed like the author put thought into their personalities and back stories, but it just didn’t come across on page as that deep, mostly because we didn’t get enough time to learn all that much about them. Maybe that will change as the series progresses. I hope so.
This book has one of my favorite magic systems ever. That’s right. EVER. I’m a sucker for animal companions, and this magic system was based on bonding with mystical creatures. Y’all. I WANT ONE!! Twain and the other creatures were fantastic. They each had distinct personalities and powers, and Twain’s sass stole my heart from the very beginning. I wanted to cuddle him so bad. lol. I also really loved the setting. Magical academy stories are a favorite of mine, and this book fit the mold of that trope really well. I enjoyed getting to learn about this world alongside the students, and the life-endangering mystery kept everything moving along and feeling just tense enough to always give the story a bit of an edge. It really was a wonderful combination of factors that came together to tell a great story.
All in all, this was an entertaining and easy to read fantasy. I think it would be great for anyone new to the genre or someone looking for a break from the denser options out there. If you like magical animal companions, this is really one you don’t want to miss. I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel soon. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.
About the Author
Shami Stovall is a multi-award-winning author of fantasy and science fiction. Before that, she taught history and criminal law at the college level, and loved every second. When she’s not reading fascinating articles and books about ancient China or the Byzantine Empire, Stovall can be found playing way too many video games, especially RPGs and tactics simulators.
If you want to contact her, you can do so at the following locations: