Talyn the Dark survived the Harrowing that decimated the Vaerli, one of Conhaero’s first races but in the process, has become a dreaded assassin of the Caisah. When the ruthless leader Caisah rose to power, he stripped the Vaerli of their magic resulting in wholesale death as most chose death to a life without their gifts. Now the Vaerli are unable even to touch each other and are typically reviled by the races they helped bring into the world. Talyn is well aware of her reputation and while most Vaerli see her as a trader, she is bidding her time until it is possible to avenge her people by destroying the Caisah. Although she travels alone, Talyn is aware of her brother Brye’s presence in the world but dares not search him out. Brye finds himself on a dark, dangerous quest aided by the enigmatic Kindred and picking up a blood witch along the way.
Finn is a talented storyteller yet he is often received by a less then enthusiastic crowd when he begins recounting old tales that tell of the Vaerli. Determined to be heard, Finn journeys to the capital city where he intends to continue spinning tales of the Vaerli, a cause that could cost his life. In the city, Finn encounters, is drawn to Talyn the Dark and even a death sentence won’t be enough to deter him from learning more about the hunter. As Talyn, Brye and Finn’s paths draw closer, they will set off chain of events calling up long dead magics that will alter their lives and quite possibly, the lives of everyone who calls Conhaero home.
Ballantine is off to an excellent start with the first of her Shifted World series which features an inventive storyline, compelling characters and strong world building. The pace moves along smartly without being breathless or feeling rushed. Ballantine carefully constructs the characters and setting so readers seamlessly get a sense of personality and history without the typical slow down in pacing. The ending will leave readers wanting more as there are a number of loose ends and tantalizing clues of what’s to come. This is a series to watch.