Thursday, July 7, 2022

Review: The Conjurer's Curse by Stephanie Cotta

I can't remember the last time I hit a true, epic fantasy. So, today's read is exactly this type of adventure. The tag line on this one caught my attention: 'To know him is to love him. To love him is to die.'
Doesn't that sound ominous? While this read doesn't promise dragons, it does hold magic, journeys, and adventure, it appears.

So, grab those swords because off we go!

by Stephanie Cotta
Monarch Educational Services, LLC
Young Adult Epic Fantasy
418 pages

Seventeen-year-old Rowan is a walking, breathing curse. He just hasn’t realized it yet.

Since birth, Rowan has been the object of scorn in his village. The reason? He’s a dikyli—an outsider with albino skin and an ominous mark blazoned on his neck. So when his fourth guardian-mother is found dead, all blame falls on him, and he is banished before his life-draining curse can strike again. The only path left to Rowan is clear: He must discover who cursed him and alter his horrible fate—or forever lose everyone he loves.

From facing treacherous seas, soul-devouring Moonshades, and desert terrors, Rowan battles for his very survival to reach his homeland—the far-off kingdom of Shandria, a land rife with hostilities. Dark surprises and back-stabbing betrayals emerge as two devious Iron Barons—who know the scandalous origin of his curse—plot to imprison him in the Mountain of the Damned with the rest of the accursed.

To make matters worse, Rowan’s curse threatens to claim another life when he meets Tahira, a spunky, pertly persistent Shandrian who vows to aid him in his quest despite the overwhelming odds. Their alliance of trust and necessity develops into love—a love doomed to end in death if Rowan remains cursed. With the hope of a future hanging in the balance, he must overcome the greatest challenge of his life. For the only way to end his curse is to slay the Conjurer who cast the life-draining spell.



Rich world buildings mixes with adventure and danger in an exciting epic fantasy, which flows in an easy read.

Rowan is an outside no matter how long he lives with the tribe, which took him in. Not only is he an albino, but his guardian mothers have died, one after the other. The village claims he's cursed, although he's not convinced. Still, when he's finally kicked out, he's forced to travel into a world he doesn't know to discover the truth behind his heritage and birth. But Shandria, the land of his race, is far away, which means overcoming a dangerous journey, and even then, there are rumors that the kingdom he seeks holds more evil than the rest of his travels combined.

This is a deliciously, rich world, which draws in and brings the scenes to life...and that without a dump on descriptions. Even from the first page, the author creates vivid landscapes, cultures, characters, and situations, and considering how diverse Rowan's travels are, it's a smorgasbord on quick world building. Yet, it reads easily and keeps a pretty even pace.

Rowan is a hero to sympathize with, shunned by his adoptive village, on a journey to discover himself, and watching all those he loves around him die. He's hardworking, kind, and ready to give everything he has when necessary. During the first chapters, his innocence shines through, and this makes him easy to root for as he's forced to discover the true world and grows as he's faced with one trial after the other. It's a slow progression, which builds in a way fitting to create a nice character.

The story holds many surprises, adventures, action, and even emotional moments as Rowan journeys to his land, and then, is faced with even more difficulties there. The characters he meets along the way surprise, their true intentions (good and bad) not instantly clear. Some of these run by quickly, while others gain more depth. Especially the first part of the book skimmed over some situations more quickly and easily, skipping past some needed depth, but then, this book covers quite a bit of ground and could have easily created a series. The adventure is quick paced, for the most part, and offers all sorts of possibilities.

Oh, and I can't forget the illustrations. This is a beautiful book, on that end, which was a nice surprise all on its own.

Epic fantasy can tend to weigh down with the world building and word choice, both of which this author avoids. While the text does take-on a bit of this older flair in the vocabulary and wording, the dialogue and thoughts steer away from that enough to make it much lighter than it might have been. It creates an easy read, which flies by and lets the adventure simply take control. In other words, it's a fantasy to enjoy.


Anonymous said...

Love this and love #TeamRowan and the world that Stephanie Cotta has created.

Rajani Rehana said...

Super blog