Thursday, October 15, 2015

Seeker (Seeker #1) - Arwen Elys Dayton

I received an ARC of Seeker free in my World Fantasy Convention book bag, and picked it up without knowing anything about it. I expected the usual YA epic fantasy. You know -- the kind where old wizarding families teach their kids the family business, in which they'll travel around the world, righting wrongs and fighting for Justice with a capital J. Yeah, no. Seeker features old wizarding families, all right, but something has gone wrong with the system, and the Seekers are ruthlessly wielding their magic for the benefit of certain rich and powerful companies.

The McGuffin here is a stone athame -- a techno-magical knife that allows its wielder to travel from one place to another by cutting a hole in the fabric of time and space. Each old wizarding family had one originally, but somehow Quin's family ended up with John's family's knife. John's family has sent him to Scotland so that Quin's father, Briac, can train him to become a Seeker. Then he can fight Briac and get his family's athame back. Briac, of course, knows why John is really there, and has no intention of letting him become a Seeker.

And of course, John and Quin are in love. The requisite love triangle is completed by Shinobu; his Scottish father is related to Quin's family, his Japanese mother is dead, and he loves Quin and is jealous of John. When things go pear-shaped in Scotland, Quin and Shinobu escape from John to Hong Kong where, as it turns out, Shinobu's mother is very much alive. A master of Eastern medicine wipes Quin's painful memories, and she starts a new life. But it doesn't take long before the past -- and John -- catch up to all of them.

This was an amazing read that held my interest far better than a lot of YA fantasies do. Dayton lets us see out of the eyes of all of the young people, so that we understand the pressures all of them are under, and why they're all, in a sense, doomed. Yet the book ends with a glimmer of hope.

If what you're after is a typical YA epic fantasy, keep looking -- Seeker ain't it. But if you're up for a globe-trotting adventure with a bunch of surprising twists and turns, I would highly recommend this book.

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