A Door in the Dark

S. & S./­Mc­Elderry. (Waxways: Bk. 1). Mar. 2023. 368p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781665918688.
Gr 9 Up–Magic comes out of the ground, from land once inhabited by dragons. People travel on waxways, portalling from one location to another via concentration and candles. Those in the lower city strive to raise their status, hoping to improve their lives and their monthly allotment of magic. But protagonist Ren’s ambition is darker and stronger than most. She seeks revenge for her father’s murder at the hands of one man at the top of society. She attends Balmerick, the magic school, becoming the perfect student in order to gain the best employment upon graduation. But on a waxways trip home with fellow students, something goes horribly wrong, sending all of them far into the Dires, menacing wilderness days outside of the city. One of them is already gruesomely dead upon arrival, and now they are being hunted. Fleeing for safety across treacherous slopes with scant supplies and dwindling magic, Ren determines her best path not only back home but to impress her companions to secure her future. The only problem? One of these students is a killer. Part locked-room mystery, part glorious new fantasy world, Reintgen’s latest novel is filled with unexpected friendships, surprising moments of comedy, deadly adventure, and a cleverly explained magical world. An explosive ending with a major plot twist in the final paragraphs will have readers clamoring for the sequel the moment they close the cover on the first.
VERDICT A must purchase for libraries serving teens.

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