Sherry Thomas is one of my favourite historical romance authors, so when she wrote a YA fantasy I was very curious but apprehensive to try it. Well, peeps, I needn't to have been worried. This book was AWESOME.
I haven't enjoyed a YA fantasy that much since Graceling and Eon. The characterisation was out of this world. Clever, wonderful characters, complex layers to their feelings, no easy solutions to their problems. Both Titus and Iolanthe were to die for.
“You are asking me to give up everything for a cause that isn't mine. I don't want to be part of any revolution. I just want to live.”
Titus is a token prince in a magical country conquered by Atlantis. On the surface he is a total prick, spoiled, rude, capricious, superfluous. In reality all this is a very careful smoke screen for the agents of Atlantis while he secretly searches for a mage prophesied to save the kingdom from the conquerors.
When he finds him, the only eventuality he is not prepared for is that he is a she. All is ready for a swift retreat and a clever hideout in Eton boy school in a non-magical England *grinning* and Titus is tearing his hairs out, but Iolanthe surprises the hell out of him by pulling the charade off and assuming the fake identity of Archer Fairfax, a pupil in Eton and Titus's friend.
So, the first delightful surprise is that both characters are wearing these awesome complex masks, they are not who everyone thinks they are. Titus and Iolanthe or shall I say Archer? are cheeky, sharp, clever, stubborn, honest with each other... I could not decide who was my favourite.
The second surprise is that Titus trains Iolanthe with the help of a magical reality book which is like Dungeons and Dragons. It works like a computer game, and a lot of really cool action happens through it.
So this is like Dungeons and Dragons slash Happy Potter slash Twelfth Night and still it's unique and subtle and wonderful. Wholly recommended!