In Kaya’s world, there are the Unskilled or ordinary folks, Barrons who are born fighters and Healers. Barrons and Healers are Soulbound in pairs at birth with the Barron protecting the Healer and the Healer keeping the Barron healthy but thanks to a hundred year war against King Darrek and his army of Graplars, there are few Healers left. The Graplars are foul smelling, toothy creatures that have been searching out and killing Healers rendering Barrons more susceptible to injuries and death. Kaya’s parents, both Barrons who lost their Healers went against the law when they fell in love and had a daughter. The only reason they survived was because they hid what they were to live among the Unskilled. Their continued survival is contingent upon Kaya attending training at Shadow Academy, bounding to Trayton whose Healer is dead and staying out of trouble.
Even though she never met him, Kaya is heartbroken to learn her Barron died several months earlier but has little time to grieve as the Academy increasingly comes under Graplar attack. After several narrow escapes, Kaya begs Trayton to teach her fighting skills, a plea he ignores insisting that it is his job to protect her. Unfortunately, it is a decision that will come back to haunt them both as well as Darius, Kaya’s instructor. As Kaya investigates how the Graplars are gaining access to the school, she discovers madness in the most unexpected places and realizes there is more to Darius then she had been led to believe.
First of a new young adult series, the world of Tril offers a few interesting twists and a solid, brisk pace. There is the obligatory mean bitch-girl classmate and the usual formula teen romance issues but despite that, this is an entertaining read. With Healers the target, Kaya’s unwillingness to sit back and be the damsel in distress is laudable though she still needs constant rescuing. The culture and world building are not particularly outstanding but the storyline is strong enough to make up for it and likely be filled in more with the next title.