5 out of 5
Book by Xyvah M. Okoye
Anathema – a race of magic wielders considered unfit by the Kuwaha Council for societal fraternisation. The crime – being mixed race. After trouble brews on the border of Regan Kalish’s homeland, the young prince sets out to find work with the notorious kuwaha, Dioohn, to help his mother, his grandfather, and to save his home. Reunited with his childhood best friend, Kayle and his brother Sexa, the boys uncover dark secrets about their bloodlines, their pasts, and their magical inheritance. These secrets will change their lives and the fate of Eutopia forever.
What was an unexpected surprise about this novel were the two narratives taking place in different timelines, interwoven to build backstory and character development. The story is a split narration, one focused on Regan’s, Kayle’s, and Sexa’s magical upbringing as boys in the care of Dioohn, and the other as three reunited young man whose magic draws them closer to an uncertain and dangerous future. Each chapter jumps between the timelines, events from the past foreshadowing events in the future. It keeps reader’s guessing and is a well-crafted device to generate intrigue.
Tainted’s biggest strength is character development and world building. It’s an introductory novel to a much larger story, a series that promises epic battles, magical wars, and tension-filled action to come. In this book however, the narrative is solely focused on Regan, Kayle, and Sexa growing up, recovering from traumatic childhood pasts, learning about their magical abilities, and setting aside their differences as adults. It is a prequel novel to an epic story, with a descriptive and narrative writing style that is easy to follow and engaging.
Overall, Tainted is an enthralling first book to a series that promises to capture attention.