by Katherine Forrister
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 20 Apr 2021 | Archive Date 13 Apr 2021
Lodestone-peddler Melaine is desperate to stop hustling her raw magic for a tuppence. Her rare gift of infusing her magic into a lodestone to sell for another's use and never keeping any for herself is nothing but a degrading path to an early grave.
Yearning for a better life, Melaine turns to her unconventional childhood idol, the powerful but sinister Overlord, sorcerer-ruler of the Centara. When she achieves an audience and arrives at his reclusive retreat of ancient Highstrong Keep, she finds that the compelling, handsome man who conquered a kingdom by the age of twenty is now a weak, shadowed husk, and he needs her lodestones to give him strength. In exchange, he will take her on as his apprentice.
Trapped in Highstrong with a half-crazed prisoner, a strict servant, and the Overlord, Melaine learns that they may all be prey to far more malevolent forces than the Overlord's black-magic experiments. Faced with menacing apparitions, ancient curses, and an even greater horror that could threaten the entire kingdom if unleashed, Melaine's penchant for survival is contested by her growing feelings for the Overlord and her path toward finding a deeper meaning to life than the pure power she once craved.
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Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 14 members
Fans of dark fantasy and romance, haunted castles and grotesque monsters will find much to love in Lodestone! And though those elements aren’t usually my cup of tea, for me Lodestone’s best feature was absolutely its original and complex magic system, where magic can be given and transferred via the use of lodestones, as the name suggests. The book is gritty and moody, with a dash of mystery and Beauty and the Beast vibes with a driven and free-willed heroine. Trigger warnings for sexual assault and gore.
Forrister debuts with an immersive fantasy that leaves the reader both satisfied and wanting more. Melaine lives in Stakeside, a grimy town in the land of the Centara people. She's an orphan and fights for her living by creating lodestones - small pieces of her magic that she draws from her bones and can give away. While magic in this world is common and available, not everyone can use it the way Melaine can. But she's spent all her life trying to figure out how she can get ahead in the world without giving away her power to everyone who will pay for it. When Melaine has the opportunity to leave Stakeside for the palace of Highstrong Keep, she jumps at the chance. She has always wanted to meet the Overlord, who took over Centara as a young man and defeated the oppressors of the Luxian order. The Overlord isn't necessarily a benevolent king - there are many shades of gray surrounding his use of magic - but Melaine is desperate to do more with her life, and she's been obsessed with him since childhood. The Overlord has been losing his own powers, and Melaine can keep him going by giving him her lodestones. Melaine settles into a routine, but she's unsettled by the palace guards, the enigmatic prisoner in the jails below the castle, and the eyes that seem to watch her everywhere. What is the Overlord hiding, and can she truly escape from a life of trading her magic for survival? This is a richly detailed book, with descriptions that will make the reader feel like they are there with Melaine. At first, the reader isn't sure if Melaine will ever make a human connection - she almost feels isolated. Although she has friends in Stakeside, she doesn't seem like she belongs there. This feeling, along with the questionable morals of pretty much everyone in the story, persists through the middle as Melaine searches for her purpose. As secrets are revealed, a wave of redemption rises. I don't want to say too much since I don't want to spoil anything - I'll just say that Melaine's entire character arc is perfectly plotted. For fans of dark and sometimes-quiet fantasies, this is an immersive read that ultimately brings hope.