League of Liars

Putnam. Feb. 2022. 464p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593112373.
Gr 7 Up–Since his mother’s death in an edem-summoning accident when he was 10, 17-year-old Cayder Broduck has dedicated his life to making sure edem criminals get the justice they deserve. Edem—time-and-space warping magic that exists only in shadows—has posed a threat to the nation of Telene for over 100 years, ever since the veil opened on the edge of the sea and poured edem into the world. Using edem is strictly prohibited by Telene’s iron-fisted government, and Cayder has taken on an apprenticeship with the nation’s top public defender to learn the other side of the law. But when three high-profile edem-related murders happen in quick succession and all three cases drop in his lap, Cayder soon realizes that justice is not always so black-and-white, especially when he finds out one of the criminals is his own sister. Scholte’s third novel is a mash-up fantasy/legal drama/heist story whose parts don’t become a cohesive whole. Several aspects of the worldbuilding are interesting, but aren’t explored deeply enough to create a sense of immersion. The cast of characters is diverse, with several characters described as having dark skin, but shallow; it’s difficult for readers to sympathize or be involved with the characters due to their lack of fleshing out. However, the plot contains just enough hooks to keep readers wondering what will happen next and find out who—or what—is behind these murders.
VERDICT An interesting but not-fully-realized fantasy legal drama. Recommended for shelves that are light on those genres, but feel free to skip.

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