480p. (Forgery of Magic: Bk. 1). HarperCollins/Balzer +Bray. May 2019. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062842732.
Gr 8 Up—After his brother Dez's murder, Prince Alfehr is poised to become king—something he fears almost as acutely as finding concrete proof that his brother is truly dead. Alfie left Castallan months ago to grieve and, he hopes, to find a way to bring his brother back from the void—even if it means using his bruxo magic to ill ends. Finn is a faceshifter who can change her appearance at will. It's a magical ability that serves her well as a thief. When their paths cross, Alfie and Finn accidentally unleash a dangerous ancient power that could destroy Castallan and the rest of the world. Together they will have to confront their failures and their greatest fears to contain this dark magic before it's too late. Motayne's debut novel is an epic fantasy set in a Latinx-inspired world with a unique magic system where moving shadows can reveal a person's feelings and spells will be immediately recognizable to Spanish speakers. Alternating chapters follow Alfie and Finn, giving nuance to their motivations and bad decisions. Alfie and Finn's relationship, which evolves over the course of the novel from a reluctant alliance to obvious respect and affection, helps fill the void left by world-building that remains thin even with the added dimension of Castallan trying to assert itself in the wake of generations of Englass colonial rule.
VERDICT A promising debut with unique magic and two strong protagonists among a varied ensemble cast.

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