“Many years ago, the magical Kingdom of Avalon was left desolate and encased in ice when the evil Snow Queen waged war on the powerful country. Its former citizens are now refugees in a world mostly devoid of magic. Which is why the crown prince and his protectors are stuck in…Arizona.
Prince Alexei, the sole survivor of the Avalon royal family, is in hiding in a town so boring, magic doesn’t even work there. Few know his secret identity, but his friend Tala is one of them. Tala doesn’t mind—she has secrets of her own. Namely, that she’s a spellbreaker, someone who negates magic.
Then hope for their abandoned homeland reignites when a famous creature of legend, and Avalon’s most powerful weapon, the Firebird, appears for the first time in decades. Alex and Tala unite with a ragtag group of new friends to journey back to Avalon for a showdown that will change the world as they know it.”
Chupeco also hits several important contemporary themes. Throughout the story, she tackles questions of privilege, personal responsibility, immigration and xenophobia, how violence begets violence, colonialism, and exploitation of resources and labor. She deftly weaves in these themes and makes it clear where she stands, but leaves room for teen readers to come to the same conclusion without feeling forced or led. I found her deployment of ICE agents particularly meaningful. In the book, ICE focuses on Avalonian immigrants and people with magic, and makes little distinction between those who are immigrants and those who are citizens. They have just as much unsupervised power in the book as they do in the real world. When they come after Tala and her family, Chupeco shows how it makes no difference that Tala is an American-born citizen while her family are documented and undocumented immigrants…
Read the rest of my review at Tor.com.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy.