The first of this month’s reviews is an indie YA novel, “The Council” by Kayla Krantz. The first in a trilogy, “The Council” introduces us to a world of witches separated into five covens and the character of Lilith Lace, a crippled teenager born to parents without powers who discovers she has some unusual abilities, and her history is not what she thinks it is.
At the start of the novel Lilith has recently learned that she has developed the power of telekinesis, an unexpected turn given that she is from the fire coven who all have pyrokinetic powers. Her biggest concern is trying to find a way to break the news to her best friend who has shown no signs of developing powers. Until an unprovoked attack on the ceremony that determines which coven each new witch will train in brings her unusual abilities to the forefront and reveals that her history is not what she’s been told. Lilith is conscripted against her will into the Council which governs the five covens, and there learns of an ongoing war between the Council and a group calling themselves the Elemental Coven who want to see the separation of the covens broken down and will resort to violence to achieve their ends.
The character of Lilith is an interesting one to follow because so much of her history and personality is shaped by the horrible accident she suffered as a young girl. Her leg was terribly burned, leaving her crippled and in almost constant pain. Following the attack by the Elemental Coven she tries to get the truth from her parents, who refuse to discuss it with her for fear that doing so will bring danger to both her and themselves. The constant pain of her injury has made her a bit cynical and tough, and yet also with feelings of inadequacy that she battles throughout the book.
As Lilith continues on her adventures she struggles with trying to answer the questions of who she is, what she believes, who she can trust, and what role her past plays in determining those things. In this regard I think a lot of teens will be able to empathize and connect with her.
The book has some things to recommend it for sure. Excitement and action, along with some mystery in the form of finding out about Lilith’s past. Unfortunately I personally wasn’t able to enjoy most of that because of one major thing that colored my reading experience with it. I felt the world-building and setting were confusing and often vague.
For about the first quarter to third of the book I wasn’t sure whether the story was taking place in a medieval type world, a contemporary setting where witches are commonplace, or something in between. I thought I had pretty much figured out that they were living in a medieval type of setting when the Land of Five threw another curve ball in revealing that one of the five covens has very advanced technology like air conditioning and indoor lighting. This in and of itself wouldn’t be a problem if there hadn’t been so much confusion about what the level of technology was earlier in the book.
The setting problems extended to the tone as well, though. The story felt like it was trying to have the tone of an epic or dark fantasy, and yet the characters all sounded very modern and out of place with the tone of the action. That only added to my confusion about what type of world we were dealing with.
All that being said this is a fast read, and I think anyone who can overlook the setting issues I had will have an enjoyable ride ahead of them. I officially rate this book as 2 out of 5 starts for “It was okay”, but anyone who can look past the setting issues can think of it as a three star rating.