Mystic by Jason Denzel
Rating: 3.5 stars
Series: Mystic #1
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Goodreads synopsis: 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.
HOW DARE YOU PLAY WITH MAGIC FOREST ANIMALS COMMONER!
On the island of Moth, from her serfdom home on a baron's land, commoner Pomella AnDore dreams of more than the caste approved lifestyle of gardening and marriage. Actually she hopes it's more than just a dream, or a trick of the light when she catches glimpses of magical silvery animals and mist in the surrounding forest. Inspired by her grandmhathir's stories Pamela yearns to study the Myst. But only nobles are given the rare chance, believed to be better and more intelligent, it has been a tradition for thousands of years. Until suddenly, for an unknown reason Pamela is offered the chance. Pamela grabs at the opportunity, despite the risks of losing everything, even her own name. But something else is going on in the Mystwood, and her childhood friend, Sim, ends up right in the middle of it
What I liked: the setting, the Celtic and nature based magical system, and some of the characters.
Mystic takes place on the medieval Ireland inspired island of Moth. Full of rolling hills and vivid green forest, streaked with the occasional silver mist of a fay animal, the island of Moth paints a beautiful escape for any nature lover, or nature-photo lover. After all the whole point of stories is to be able travel without leaving
But that’s enough about the world building, let’s get on to the characters. Pomella is a likable protagonist, struggling to believe in herself and find confidence despite being looked down upon her whole life. She is kind and genuinely cares for the Myst and its lands. However, the characters I really found myself adoring were the side characters. There is the Green Man, whom despite his massive appearance is quite gentle, think of a big friendly mass of grass! Until you cause violence that is... And then there’s Lal, looked down upon as the lowest caste, he is shunned and rarely spoken too, yet he is so kind and has a great, if not odd, sense of humor (chug that brandy, Huzzo!)
I appreciated how Pomella dealt with her different feelings for Quentin, the exotic nobleman who is part of her new life, and Sim, the honest and solid part of the life she is trying to leave behind. Pomella is very self-aware of the contrast between the two and how her desire to reach beyond her commoner station factors into her affections for them.
What I didn't like: As the narrative switched between Pamela and Sim I found the chapters that exclusively featured Sim to be somewhat boring as he slowly learns of the plot against the Mystics. Thankfully, (to me anyway) most of the chapters included Pamela and focused more on the mysterious Myst. Secondly, although the antagonist was not trivial or weak, I found the reasons behind his actions somewhat.... anticlimactic. Still I enjoyed the ending, and although I feel like Mystic can be read as a stand alone I want to see what else author Denzel has in(book)store for us.
Overall: I enjoyed escaping into the mystical forest of Moth. Jason Denzel has created a worthy new addition to the high fantasy genre. Lovers of high fantasy should definitely give this book a try. Also lovers of warm romance, nature, Celtic mythos, or just books in general might wanna give Mystic a second glance as well.