They called it the Thorn Hill Massacre—the brutal attack on a once-thriving Weir community. Though Jonah Kinlock lived through it, he did not emerge unscathed: like the other survivors, Jonah possesses unique magical gifts that set him apart from members of the mainline guilds. At seventeen, Jonah has become the deadliest assassin in Nightshade, a global network that hunts the undead. He is being groomed to succeed Gabriel Mandrake, the sorcerer, philanthropist, and ruthless music promoter who established the Thorn Hill Foundation, the public face of Nightshade. More and more, Jonah’s at odds with Gabriel’s tactics and choice of targets. Desperate to help his dying brother Kenzie, Jonah opens doors that Gabriel prefers to keep closed.
Emma Claire Greenwood grew up worlds away, raised by a grandfather who taught her music rather than magic. An unschooled wild child, she runs the streets until the night she finds her grandfather dying, gripping a note warning Emma that she might be in danger. The clue he leaves behind leads Emma into Jonah’s life—and a shared legacy of secrets and lingering questions.
Was Thorn Hill really a peaceful commune? Or was it, as the Wizard Guild claims, a hotbed of underguild terrorists? The Wizards’ suspicions grow when members of the mainline guilds start turning up dead. They blame Madison Moss and the Interguild Council, threatening the fragile peace brokered at Trinity.
Racing against time, Jonah and Emma work to uncover the truth about Thorn Hill, amid growing suspicion that whoever planned the Thorn Hill Massacre might strike again.
Pop culture is my native language, so let me break it down for you like this: The Enchanter Heir is basically X Men populated with Tolkienesque characters, running around playing an urban Parkour version of Clue. The plot is a multilayered political murder mystery. Everyone seems to have a different agenda and is playing their cards close to their chests. You have ambiguous villainous types, luthiers (guitar-makers, yay for learning new words,) zombie ghosts and a ninja assassin strike team operating out of a boarding school.
Doesn't this looks awesome?
You should know going in that this is a reboot of a trilogy and though it’s helpful to have read the previous books, it’s not totally necessary. Cinda Williams Chima recovers the important facts, so don’t be afraid to dive in. Unless you’re nuts about spoilers, because it will reveal how some of the plot-lines were tied up. For those of you looking for a refresher, Cinda has a pretty helpful guide to the series on her website.
Cinda has a knack for making her worlds come alive and The Enchanter Heir is no exception. The book is set in Cleveland (C-towwwn! It’s my hometown, I can say things like that) and she works the grungy, midwestern, post-industrial vibe like a native. Much of this book is set in the Flats, an area that I often refer to as a Scooby-Doo ghost town and the perfect setting for an urban fantasy. After reading this book, I could not 100% guarantee you that there aren’t secret evil-fighting commandos operating out of the area, that’s how convincing she is.
Sidebar, my personal favorite part was this quote:
Jonah scarcely remembered the drive from Cleveland Heights to downtown…just that it seemed to take forever and cars kept getting in his way.
In the middle of a tense scene, Cinda Williams Chima takes a moment to side swipe Cleveland drivers. Having had my blood pressure driven higher than it was ever meant to go by the East side suburb to city center commute, it tickles me that she would take the time to call that out.
Though Jonah and Emma aren’t my favorite of Cinda’s characters, they banter like champs so I’ll mostly forgive them their flaws. They’re both a bit of a conundrum. On the one hand, Emma is fantastic. She takes care of her business and runs around refusing to take BS from anyone. On the other, she’s completely in the dark on a lot of what’s going on and makes a couple of questionable moves that don’t seem in line with how she claims to operate.
Jonah’s no different. He’s a tortured hero type with the power to kill with a touch and an empath on top of that. This makes him understandably standoffish but he’s still hard to get a read on. He definitely hates his power and the fact that it doesn’t allow him to get close, but he has zero problem using it as means of extricating himself from sticky situations. He also has an annoying tendency to leap to conclusions when it comes to whodunit and it’s going to get him in serious trouble, especially when combined with his favorite problem solving method.
The only major downside to The Enchanter Heir is that it is very much a first book. All of the things are introduced, plots set in motion, epicness is set up and then BAM. OVER. It is entirely possible this wouldn’t have bothered me as much as it did if the last three pages hadn’t thrown out a terrible cliff hanger. (It’s not technically a cliffhanger, no one’s hanging from a cliff in mortal peril, but everything abruptly went to hell and it feels metaphorically cliff-like all things considered.) It left me feeling like the book was mostly foreplay with an underwhelming climax and it’s a tad frustrating when that happens, amirite?
Reading this book is kind of like watching Pirates of the Caribbean, (the first one, before they got complicated and weird) there isn’t a whole lot to it but you get swept up in the adventure before you know what’s happening and end up totally immersed and enjoying yourself.
There’s never the wrong time for a gratuitous Johnny Depp gif.
P.S. In between writing and posting this review, I got to meet Cinda. She is super nice, hilarious and generally fantastic. She says she’s sorry about the ending but never fear, she’s working on the next installment and it’ll be out Fall 2014. Also, to all the doubters, there absolutely are salt mines underneath Lake Erie. Go buy her books because I want her to keep writing forever.
This review also appears on Cuddlebuggery.