Book Rating: ★★★★✰ (3.75 / 5 stars)
Sara has always lived a quiet life with her mother in Merrywater. But when the Carnival of Games arrives, and her mother is temporarily held hostage, they’re forced to flee and seek refuge with Sara’s uncle, Seaglen. Yet Seaglen and his daughter Shumuti, as well as her friend Aurielle, have their own secrets: Magic is real. With this discovery, Sara is thrown into an adventure to find other sources of Magic before an unknown enemy claims it for themselves.
Autumn by Melissa Nash is a fast paced, fantasy adventure with an endearing focus on female friendship. With Sara, we are taken into a world reminiscent of Avatar: The Last Airbender, focusing on elemental magic and to defeat a faceless leader. Just like Aang, in Avatar, they’re on a quest to find someone. For Aang, it was a teacher in each element. For Sara, Shumuti, and Aurielle, it is an additional Guardian of Magic. These similarities will resonate with people who enjoy Avatar…in all the right ways! I know it did with me too!
The plot is fast paced and adventurous, exploring a world where Magic is more prominent than it lets on. I particularly enjoyed Shumuti’s POVs; she’s a leader, determined, and it shows. She proved to be a nice contrast to Sara, who is a bit less sure of herself. I think having these strong female leads is a great message and is rare to see in YA Fantasy.
Now, while the characters as a whole were strong, I struggled once Aurielle’s POVs were added. Her POV were very similar to Sara’s, at least in my opinion, and if it wasn’t for the heading indicating whose POV the chapter was in, I might have gotten confused.
In addition, some of the structuring and pacing were a little off for me. The story started off at a slower pace, one that I personally like, but by the halfway point, it was jumping a bit more in order to skim over the travel time. While some readers will enjoy this, some of this travel could have been used to build the comradery or focus more on the magic. This is just a personal take though, and by no mean does the pacing ruin the story.
Overall, I am excited to pick up the second book, Winter, soon. This is a fantastic YA fantasy about friendship and magic…and I think a lot of people will enjoy this!
What’s it about?
After an unexplainable incident at the Carnival of Games, Sara is forced to flee to the neighbouring region of Merrywater with her mother and seek shelter with an uncle and cousin she has never met before. Here, Sara learns of a secret kept hidden from her all her life, that her newfound family are amongst a select few people in the whole country who can use Magic. Sara learns from her cousin, Shumuti, that Magic is an energy found in the natural environment, allowing nature to bloom and flourish. But take too much from the landscape, and the land begins to wilt and die, meaning that with the ability to use Magic there also comes the responsibility to protect this energy, to prevent exploitation of the natural world. Following several attacks from an unknown enemy, Sara’s uncle, Seaglen, establishes that Magic is being misused to the north. Wanting to help, but unable to wield Magic herself, Sara accompanies Shumuti and her friend, Aurielle, to investigate the situation. Warning them that there are people there who may wish to take advantage of their power, Seaglen advises them to undertake their task discretely.