I am completely blown away by Nora’s newest venture. Chronicles of the One is a perfect blending of post-apocalyptic dystopia and epic fantasy. The fact that Nora, after decades of writing romance laced with tendrils of the supernatural, would take such a giant leap into writing a radically different story, is commendable. The fact that she not only pulled it off by absolutely nailed it commands respect. She has mine.
Of Blood and Bone picks up a few years after the end of Year One. We see the One grow and learn and near their thirteenth year, when they must leave home and beginning their training in earnest. The training sequences and quests that the One must complete are the elements that reminded me so strongly of epic fantasy. Here, in the midst of rusting cars and cracked asphalt, we are shown a magic that is wild and mysterious and is somehow seamlessly joined to the broken world from which it sprang. While magic is almost an entity in its own right, those that use it learn and grow in their knowledge, which I always loving seeing in a novel.
As with all of Nora’s novels, the relationships are the backbone. She excels at creating families of both blood and choosing. I’m not going to get into any relationship in particular, because honestly any name I list is going to be a spoiler for the first book. (That’s why I refer to the One as “they” instead of assigning a gender, as even that is a bit of a spoiler). What I will say is that beauty arose from the ashes of Doom in the forms of families and communities. The bonds developed through shared trauma are oftentimes deeper and stronger and more enduring than their sunnier counterparts, and that depth is well demonstrated here.
Besides the radical genre shift, there is also one other difference in this novel as compared to the rest of Nora’s work: there’s not a single sex scene. There are a couple of steamy kisses, but that’s it. From someone who built her career on romance, I thought this exclusion was a pretty shocking decision, but it absolutely works with the story. This is due in part to the ages of the main characters, which was another kind of different narrative choice for Nora; while adults are around and play important supporting roles, kids are undoubtedly the stars. As with the first book, there was no central romance. However, in this book we can see the foundation of what looks to be an explosive romance playing out in the final installment.
I have no negative comments at all in regards to this novel, and found it to be even stronger than the first installment of the series. My one and only complaint is that I have to wait until November 2019 to see how the story ends. I feel like this is a trilogy that can both draw in new fans who prefer fantasy to romance, as well as pushing current Nora fans out of their comfort zone into new genres. I can’t recommend it highly enough, and will be counting down the days until I can get my hands on The Rise of Magicks.
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