Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall – Book Review
by Anca Antoci
Author: Shami Stovall
Amazon: Buy from Amazon
Our review: 5.00 (read)
I absolutely loved this book! It’s fast-paced, has an engrossing story, imaginative world-building, and well-crafted characters.
Volke Savan’s dream is to become an arcanist like his idol, the legendary Gregory Ruma. To do so, he first needs to bond with a mythical creature, but due to his background he is forbidden to take part in the trials to bo bond with the two available phoenixes so he decides to crash the “party”. To his dismay, none of the phoenixes chose him.
I’ve read plenty of fiction revolving around a chosen one, which is a popular trope, especially in fantasy. Even my own fantasy novel, Forget Me Not, has a chosen one of sorts and a dark prophecy. Knightmare Arcanist is the opposite of that and I don’t even know if there’s a name for this trope. If there is, please leave a comment below!
Our main character, Volke wanted to bond with a phoenix and failed because he wasn’t the chosen one. Thus he had to find a workaround to become an arcanist. Luckily, he does.
Proving his worth in a dangerous situation, Volke earns the respect of a Knightmare, a mythical creature made of shadows and terror who offers to bond with him to save his life, but that comes at a price. Luthair, the Knightmare has been bonded before and his arcanist was murdered. Now he seeks revenge and Volke must help him.
You know what they say: never meet your heroes! Volke is ecstatic as he gets to meet his idol, Gregory Ruma but his joy fades quickly when he had to face the harsh truth.
The one thing I didn’t like about this book is the spoiler contained in the blurb. I think it’s a major mistake! I wouldn’t have mentioned Ruma being the bad guy in my review but this information was already in the book description. In the book, it takes quite a while until we figure it out.
Volke may not be the chosen one but he is a problem solver. He finds solutions to every problem and is not easily swayed by a difficult task. Every quality you need in a hero is present: bravery, wits, and charm. He is protective of his friends and earns the respect of his rival, Zaxis. He makes a good team with Illia, his adoptive sister. Impulsive at first, he slowly learns he needs to see the bigger picture to separate truth from deception
“You cannot see the whole tapestry if you stare at a single thread.”
Zaxis and Atty, the chosen ones who bonded with the phoenixes, although disliked Volke at first (mostly Zaxis) have a change of heart and even assist Volke when in need.
I loved the character dynamics in Knightmare Arcanist, not always predictable and plot twists are revealed bit by bit uncovering dark secrets that push the story forward.
The threat in this story is a plague that affects mythical creatures and corrupts their magic driving them crazy. The arcanists must figure out where this disease comes from and how to stop it. And if that isn’t enough, they also have to fight pirates.
Knightmare Arcanist is a page-turner that unravels a mystery in a fantasy world where humans and mythical creatures coexist, a mixture of How To Train Your Dragon and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It also reminded me of another book I read and reviewed a while ago, Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym Martineau. The plotline is entirely different but the magical creatures reminded me of it.