Innovative Magic The Hybrid Magic Chronicles Book 2 by Cristy L. Bowlin Genre: YA Fantasy
A broken enchantment. An uncertain alliance. A dangerous journey.
Aaron has made a terrible mistake. He unleashed a powerful mage who will only make him and his friends more of a target for the Defenders who hunt them. When Theo is taken, Elara must use her newfound abilities to track him down, while Aaron vows to fix his mistake before anyone else gets hurt. With assistance from some experienced seers, healers, and combat mages, Aaron and his friends embark on a quest across the Deravine Commonwealth and into a cold northern land. The trip is anything but easy, forcing the hybrid mages to learn how to rely on themselves. As Theo slips further away from them, the Defenders gain more followers. With few people they can trust, the hybrid mages are left wondering—Is any place safe for them now?
Growing up, when Elara read stories about princesses and royal courts, she never imagined everything to be so impersonal. The employees of the palace acted like automatons in her presence. She couldn’t help but wonder if they saw her as an outsider and resented her for adding more work to their daily schedule. Elara was no noble. She was no one at all in this society.
Every day Elara was surrounded by countless servants and guards who were there to help her at a moment’s notice, yet they hardly said a word to her. First thing in the morning, a young woman in a pristine white uniform came to her room to open her windows and help her get dressed. Then an older woman wearing an apron came up from the kitchens with Elara’s breakfast.
On days when Elara was busy training inside of the palace, she would see different sets of servants at lunch, tea time, dinner, and bed time. She sometimes didn’t recognize them from one day to the next. Most nights, only a single servant would help her undress and fluff her pillows before bed. However, two or three times a week, four additional servants would attend to her by drawing a hot bath. Then while everyone in the guest wing slept, there would be guards posted outside their doors all night.
If Elara wanted to spend her day outside of the palace, two guards escorted her wherever she went. Elara felt like she had a constant shadow when she tried to explore the city. Finely-dressed nobles never seemed to notice the guards, but children playing in the street would clear out the moment they saw Elara and her entourage. Merchants assumed she must be wealthy and would politely call out to her offering their wares. If they knew who she really was, where she was from, they might have sneered at her.
The guards were Bennet’s idea, an extra precaution for all of his students in case any Defenders had made their way into the city of Tranton. Elara knew Bennet just wanted to keep them all safe, but having her own personal guards felt excessive. There weren’t any Defender pamphlets circulating around the city, and the few times she had heard the Defenders mentioned by locals in conversation, it was to condemn them.
When Elara first arrived at the palace in the winter, she was still struggling to learn the Trantonian language and frequently had to ask Lilith to translate for her when people spoke too quickly. One day they were walking behind two noblewomen in the park next to the palace. Elara’s ears perked up when she recognized the Trantonian word for defender.
“What are they saying?” she had whispered to Lilith.
The younger girl hesitated before mumbling in Scransean, “That woman called the Defenders ‘mad zealots.’” Lilith nodded in the direction of the second woman. “And that woman said, ‘What else do you expect from a country with such primitive views about magic?’”
Elara’s cheeks had burned in anger and shame. She pulled up her scarf to hide her face and didn’t speak for the rest of the walk. Lilith didn’t seem to know what to say either. Thankfully, by the start of spring Elara had learned enough Trantonian to speak fluently, so she no longer needed Lilith to translate for her.
Elara rarely heard derogatory comments about her home country after that day at the park. Lilith had assured her that such views were in the minority. While cultural beliefs regarding magic in Trantonia and Scransee had long been different, unification efforts were working. Both languages were taught in schools throughout the Deravine Commonwealth, and people regularly crossed the border for trade and commerce. Yet one thing that they mercifully did not share was the recruitment efforts of the Defenders. If the Defenders weren’t a legitimate threat in Trantonia, then Elara and her friends could be safe here. She chewed her lip, wondering how long that safety would last.
The Hybrid Magic Chronicles Book 1
Two nations joined peacefully as one, but a band of assassins lurks in the shadows.
Magic isn’t uncommon in the Deravine Commonwealth, where people can be gifted with the faculties of combat, healing, transformation, or sight. Yet as a hybrid mage, Aaron Ztrong’s abilities aren’t so easily categorized. He managed to save his parents during a dangerous confrontation when he was only a young boy, and now a decade later most people in his life expect him to do remarkable things with his powers. Then there are those who fear what Aaron and others like him can do. When Aaron’s life is threatened by a group calling themselves the Defenders, he takes refuge with two other hybrid mages and the teacher who is training them to enhance their abilities. As the Defenders continue to hunt down hybrid mages, Aaron and his new companions must find a way to survive.
Master George stared at Aaron, with brows furrowed and lips pursed. Aaron suspected more questions were coming. He shuffled his feet again and looked down. There had to be a way to get rid of this tutor sooner rather than later.
“I wonder, boy,” Master George murmured, twirling his dagger, “if you’re the only one injured, can you still heal yourself?”
“I—I don’t know,” Aaron stammered.
With two long strides, Master George closed the distance between them. A sharp pain bloomed in Aaron’s stomach, far worse than the effects of his healing magic. Master George stepped back, empty-handed. Aaron gaped at his stomach. The knife stuck out from his torn shirt, blood pooling around it. He grasped its wooden handle and clutched his side, trying to draw on his healing magic without any luck.
“I can’t stop the bleeding!” Aaron cried. He looked up at Master George. “I can’t do anything. Please, help me.”
Master George’s face twisted into a smirk. “I know the truth about you. You’re no different than that wretched Lady Florella.” He spat at Aaron’s feet. Then he opened a window and climbed down into the garden below.
Aaron pressed his hands to his abdomen and gritted his teeth against the pain. He reached the library door and attempted to turn the handle, but he couldn’t get a good grip because his hands were slick with blood. He rubbed his right palm on his pant leg until it was dry and managed to turn the handle just enough to push open the door.
“Help!” he called into the hallway.
Immediately, his mother rushed around the corner. What was she doing here? Usually, Nora was already in the courtyard before Aaron woke up, training her squadron of combat mages.
She stared at him with her eyes wide. “What happened?”
“Master George attacked me,” Aaron gasped.
Nora gestured to the servant who had followed her into the hallway. “Go get a healer! Now!”
She led her son back inside the library and helped him into an armchair next to the window. “Where did he go?”
“He’s in the garden.” Aaron winced in pain.
Nora’s eyes narrowed. “I’ll be right back,” she hissed before leaping out the open window. She barreled toward Master George and sent a barrage of translucent daggers at him. He didn’t have a chance to see them coming. They struck his back, and he screamed and crumpled to the ground.
Aaron’s father rushed into the room, breathless. A healer in long white robes scurried in after him. Jonathan approached and squeezed Aaron’s hand. “You’re going to be okay, son.”
Aaron nodded but found that he couldn’t speak. His tongue felt like sandpaper in his mouth. His father scooped him up and carried him to a blanket by the fireplace. Darkness consumed him.
Cristy L. Bowlin is a college English professor and author of The Temple Dancer’s Diary and The Hybrid Magic Chronicles, set in the fantasy realm of the Deravine Commonwealth. She currently lives in Southern California with her husband, daughter, and pet cat. When she isn’t reading or writing, she is most likely tap dancing, hiking, or getting invested in (another) TV series.