Review: Mystic by Jason Denzel
Series: Mystic #1
Published by Tor Books on November 3rd 2015
The start of an enchanting new epic fantasy series from the founder of Dragonmount
I called to the Myst, and it sent us you.
For hundreds of years, high-born nobles have competed for the chance to learn of the Myst.
Powerful, revered, and often reclusive, Mystics have the unique ability to summon and manipulate the Myst: the underlying energy that lives at the heart of the universe. Once in a very great while, they take an apprentice, always from the most privileged sects of society.
Such has always been the tradition—until a new High Mystic takes her seat and chooses Pomella AnDone, a restless, low-born teenager, as a candidate.
Commoners have never been welcomed among the select few given the opportunity to rise beyond even the highest nobility. So when Pomella chooses to accept the summons and journey to Kelt Apar, she knows that she will have more to contend with than the competition for the apprenticeship.
Breaking both law and tradition, Pomella undergoes three trials against the other candidates to prove her worthiness. As the trials unfold, Pomella navigates a deadly world of intolerance and betrayal, unaware that ruthless conspirators intend to make her suffer for having the audacity to seek to unravel the secrets of the Myst.
Mystic is very much a coming of age, perhaps somewhat standard fare for a young adult novel. And maybe you could say the story, in some ways, was predictable. But you know what? I don’t care. I found the characters refreshing, I wanted to read their experiences as they venture through this story. So, regardless of anything that felt familiar, I still really enjoyed it (remember, sometimes familiar is fun when the story is told well).
Mystic is a book to immerse yourself in, in a way that makes you feel you can join the adventure as it unfolds on the page. It is very much a character driven story and the reader’s connection with Pomella is crucial to make this work. Luckily, I found Pomella very intriguing and wanted to root for her the entire time.
Even though this is a character driven story, the magic in it is also very cool. The Myst is the magical force/entity/power in which “magic” lives. This type of magic feels natural, like part of the earth and environment, but only select people have the ability to access and manipulate it. Honestly, I loved the Myst and how those who could call on it (unveil it) each had different ways to do so. Pomella’s singing is her strength, it makes her unique, and it also connects her to the Myst. There is just a natural beauty to the Myst that is refreshing.
But, as beautiful and natural as it seems, the world they live in has restricted training and use of the Myst to just the upper class. But, in direct opposition to the norm and expected procedures, Pomella is quite unexpectedly invited to the trials for a chance to serve as an apprentice to a High Mystic. This opportunity is huge, it is a dream come true. But it is also an invitation that could result in losing everything she currently has in life. I love stories where characters get the chance to tear down social barriers, especially when it will open the chance of achieving something that would typically be denied to them. It’s is unfair to that Pomella, and other commoners, that they are unable to be Mystic candidates based solely on some superficial standard. Mystic is very much one of those stories I look for where a character gets to challenge convention.
Pomella is faced with a heart wrenching choice, follow her dream and lose everything she has if she doesn’t win the apprenticeship, or play it safe and turn down the invitation of a lifetime. If she fails, she will not only lose out on her dream, but also her name, her family, her friends and neighbors. She will be relegated to the caste of people who are the lowest of lows, forced to shave her head for all to know she is not welcome in society. The criminals, people who have committed some unspeakable crime. People that even as a commoner, you do not talk to much less touch. This is a huge price to pay for taking a chance on fulfilling a dream you never thought possible.
As Pomella is faced with hard decisions, and placed in even harder situations, she often remembers the wisdom of her grandmother. I loved the bond she had with her and how much that relationship has helped mold Pomella to be the person she is. Overall, I found Mystic to be highly enjoyable and engaging and am eager for the next in the series.
Review originally appeared on The Speculative Herald.