Ghost Flower (Tower and Crown: Book One), by Kathryn. A. Broderick
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Are you having a good week so far?
Today, I’m excited to be reviewing Ghost Flower (Tower and Crown: Book One), by Kathryn. A. Broderick.
So, if you’ve got your favourite drink to hand and are all settled in, let’s begin.
Set in the land of Arcadia, Sophia Lombardi, a young non-mage has learned that her fiancé Aiden has changed. No longer is he the sweet young man who promised to marry her, but a cruel and insensitive jerk who has succumbed to the seductive power the title of tower mage brings. Now, Sophia must learn to live life without him, discovering her own unique talent for unravelling spells.
With her growing talent, Sophia decides to take a stand against the Magority, who rule over the land. Over time, she becomes a sort of folk hero, doing all she can to help non-mages like herself, calling herself ‘Ghost Flower.’ Soon enough, foreign archmage Casimir enlists Sophia’s services, intrigued by her in more ways than one.
However, Sophia hides a dark secret that even she has long forgotten.
Will it be her undoing?
Can she help those like her, who have been squashed under the power of the Magority for too long?
Sophia Lombardi is a ‘fish’ (a non-mage) with a secret: she can nullify the spells of mages and is hypersensitive to mana. Curious by nature, she has a tendency to eavesdrop on others in order to gain precious information. With a brave and rebellious streak, Sophia seeks to take revenge on the Tower and its pompous mages who make the lives of those like her a misery. Over the course of the story, I saw how highly adaptable she was as an individual, always thinking on her feet. However, she also made decisions quite impulsively, not always thinking everything through beforehand. She also proved to be witty and insightful, reading others with a certain sense of ease. Overall, she made for a remarkable main character, being charming and likable, with a unique talent that set her apart from the rest of the cast.
Next we come to Casimir, a confident and charismatic Ilyrian Archmage who has allied with Arcadia. I liked Casimir from the start as he seemed just as unique as Sophia, with an equally quick wit and silver tongued charm. He was a handsome and friendly man, not what I had initially expected of an all powerful mage. He also proved mysterious and was hard for Sophia to read, never revealing his secrets or any vulnerabilities until the end of the book. He spends the majority of the story trying to keep Sophia close in order to figure her out, finding her fascinating and hard to understand. Overall, I loved Casimir’s character as he provided a gentle contrast to Sophia’s more wilful nature, with his laid back attitude and more serious temperament.
Next, we come to Aiden, Sophia’s ex fiancé. He was a difficult man to like, to be honest. Throughout the book, I wasn’t sure if he was putting on an act for the other mages or if he was really as much of an ass as he seemed. Initially, he came across as rude and arrogant, seeing himself as somehow above Sophia simply due to his status as a tower mage. He seemed entitled and pompous, not admirable traits in the slightest. However, like the other lead characters of this book, he too hides a secret, so it was hard to gauge how he really felt toward Sophia and his position as a mage.
Finally, although not a character in itself, I’d like to address The Tower and the Magority that reside there. They make up the magical authority of all of Arcadia and boast numerous powerful yet arrogant mages, who seem to care nothing for those they consider beneath them. There was no love lost between me and the Magority as they risked their citizen’s lives in order to try and hold onto their own power. To me, they represented the worst in our own modern day society, those that think they are above the law by virtue of some illustrious title, never considering the inherently equal nature of human beings, deep down.
There are numerous positives to discuss regarding Ghost Flower, all of which have been briefly included below.
- I really enjoyed the author’s writing style. I particularly liked the sayings of the non-mages, such as, ‘If first comes joy and then comes sorrow, your fate will find you before tomorrow.’ Sayings like this lent the story a more detailed, rich sense of the non-mage’s own culture, separating them from the ways of living enjoyed by the Magority.
- The first person, close narration really brought Sophia and her personality alive. I especially loved her quick wit and rebellious attitude toward the primary governing force of their land.
- I loved the heated friendship between Sophia and Casimir. The pair were consistently pressing each-other’s buttons, trying to antagonise the other, but in a playful, affectionate way.
- The magical system was intriguing and unique, with magic coming from a person’s mana root. Magic was all about intention in this story, with spells being weaved using a person’s individual energy and willpower.
- I liked how we got to view the story’s events through multiple points of view, chiefly Sophia’s, Casimir’s, and Aiden’s, demonstrating how each had a different opinion of the Magority and their actions.
- The story was deeply emotional at points, revealing more of Sophia’s tragic backstory, of how she lost her family. This allowed me to empathize with her on a deeper level, causing me to care more about the outcome of her endeavours.
- It was fascinating to see how alike Sophia and Casimir really were. They were both outcasts, trying to find a place where they fit, yet also preferring their own solitary company. The following quote emphasizes this point.
‘And Casimir and I were two people that didn’t fit nicely into their little boxes and didn’t see the need to. We were ourselves, and that was enough.’
I thought that this was a wonderful, meaningful quote, which should be embraced by all. After all, if we cannot accept ourselves as we are, how can we expect anyone-else to.
While reading Ghost Flower, I happened upon two quotes which really stood out to me.
1) ‘I was me, complete. And I was enough.’
I felt that this was an especially important message for young people to learn, so they don’t feel the need to compare themselves to others.
2) ‘At the end of the day, that was how they saw us. Us fish. Useless and needing protection. To unquestioningly bow and scrape before power. To simply behave.’
This quote does a brilliant job at illustrating an important point about how everyday people are inherently treated as unknowledgeable, as though those in power have to hold their hands and do everything for them. In actual fact, ordinary people have their own agency and don’t need such systems to function in their lives.
Overall, I found Ghost Flower to be a wonderfully charming, funny, and spellbinding start to a new fantasy series. I encourage you to read on, to find out what happens when one rebellious non-mage goes up against the primary authority of their land.
Themes included: secrets, magic, power and status, with a plot which placed great emphasis on one individual vs a corrupt system.
My Rating: 5 stars.
Recommended to: lovers of young adult fantasy novels involving unusual magic, dark secrets, and class struggles for power.
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