This is a wonderfully original fantasy by a new YA author. It is the story of two young women and how an accidental meeting changes their lives and links them together. Lena is escaping from the city where she has been sentenced to death for a crime she did not commit; Catherine is seeking to re-enter that same city having escaped from it several years before. This home for both of them is called Duke’s Forest and for years it has been cut off from the outside world because of a huge and mysterious cloud that hovers over it; but this is a cloud caused by a magic spell and magic is banned in the city, so who is responsible? This story asks so many questions about why Catherine wants to return to the city and can Lena learn to control the magical power that seems to be developing in her.
What a really great story that follows the parallel stories of these two main characters as they occasionally collide, and then diverge again. There are complex themes weaving their way through the book and it is difficult to know whether the two protagonists are searching for the same end, or whether they are actually searching for different conclusions. The one constant villain is the ‘Justice’, who is meant to represent the King, but has ambitions of his own; both girls find that they will have to combat this enemy if they want to succeed in their wishes. Kesia Lupo has produced a stunning book that absolutely draws you in to the world of Duke’s Forest and both girls have you rooting for them, even though you are not always sure of motives. This is an absolute must for those who love fantasy with a little bit of the macabre. Do look out for several twists and turns especially towards the end of the book, it really adds to the tension.