After reading the Under a Winter Sky anthology, I saw this new series featuring the next generation. I definitely wanted to read it. I forgot that the Bear Prince is actually Astar, whilst I wanted to read more about Rhy and Lena. Still, I like this magical world and dove right into the book . . . and hit a wall. The first 25% of the book, I started to think I made a mistake and shouldn't have picked this book up. I am a fan of Ms. Kennedy and I didn't want to give this a rating lower than 3 star. I especially did not want to mark this as not rate-able with a DNF flag. So I pressed on.
The first 25% of the book is too YA for me. The lack of maturity of these seven friends grated on me. They have been privileged in a time of peace and prosperity. It seems only 3 of the 7 have actually done something with their talents. I cannot ever remember of time of being so ... juvenile except in my pre-teens. Zephr is difficult for me to like at first. She comes across as a hanger-on who is massively self centered and only wants to place another notch on her belt... banging the Heir to the Throne. On the Crazy Hot Matrix, Zephr is totally the woman you have a great time with and you never marry or bring home to your mom. She is definitely not a unicorn in this Crazy Hot Matrix.
I feel badly for Astar because he is trying to do his best. He is given a lot of responsibility and he handles it well. His friends test him in unfair ways. They make him feel like he is a stick in the mud. That is unkind of them. Just because they don't want to become adults and take on responsibilities and duties, does not mean they need to make fun of Aster. Nor do I like how the story makes him out to be too rigid and that there is something wrong with this morals and dedication. Personally, I think he is fine the way he is.
When Zephr continues to push on Aster and his convictions without a care to his feelings, and when Rhy's nasty poking at Lena continues, I am about done with this book. What a cast of unlikeable spoiled brats. Even worse, the plot isn't moving forward. So they have to go on a quest, let's get on with the quest! BAM, the shit gets real fast when they barely reach their first destination. This is when the story picks up for me and really pulls me in.
The plot of this story with magics now disturbed and perverted, this is what I want to read about. Seeing Zephr set up to meet the challenges and woefully realize she wasted so many opportunities to be better prepared, this is when I started to change my mind about both Zephr and the book. I can appreciate Ms. Kennedy's set up to allow the characters to grow. This journey/quest is to give them the chance to become contributing adults and possibly see more of the world. I just don't have to like their shitty little absorbed selves. I am all about getting to when their self-actualization begins.
After the first encounter with strange magics, the book pace picks up and I cannot put the book down. By the time the last encounter occurs for this tightly knit group of friends, I cannot believe there is only 8% of the book left. There is still so much more to explore and so much more going on. The book does not end in a cliffhanger. What it does is create a thirst to read the next book. Fortunately, there is a plan to have the rest of the books in this series out in 2021. This will be a great year for Ms. Kennedy. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series. This fantasy is recommended to readers who love epic quests and heroes in the making.