Nocturna (A Forgery of Magic #1)
By: Maya Motayne
Overall Rating: ★★★
Finn Voy is a face shifter who gets caught by a powerful mobster and forced into an impossible mission: steal a legendary treasure from Castallan’s royal palace or be stripped of her magic forever.
Prince Alfehr is dealing with the death of his brother and the realization that he is now first in line for the Castallan throne. He’s now obsessed with finding a way to bring his brother back, even if it means dabbling in forbidden magic.
Finn and Alfie’s fates collide, they accidentally unlock a terrible, ancient power and now they have to capture it or risk the destruction of the entire world. As you can imagine, things don’t go well and we get some INTENSE fight scenes.
I really wanted to enjoy Nocturna more than I did. While it isn’t a terrible book, I felt it lacking in key places. I absolutely LOVED the Latin atmosphere – it was my favorite part of the entire novel – but the characters and world building could have done with some work. Overall, if you’re looking for a dense fantasy with Latinx vibes and have a short TBR, give this a go, but don’t get your hopes up for this to be your next obsession.
ALL THE LATIN GOODNESS
This was my first read this year for Hispanic Heritage Month and I was NOT disappointed. All the main characters are brown and proud with last names that speak of Hispanic descent. Everyone speaks Spanglish, moms and old ladies threaten the youth with chanclas, and celebrations aren’t complete without spiced hot chocolate, sangria and Bachata!
It takes about 150 pages (out of the 470 total) for things to pick up, but when it does things get DARK. Motayne doesn’t pull her punches, and some of the battle scenes where villain and protagonist face off get very gruesome and heavy. We’re dealing with family trauma, emotional & physical abuse, slides into alcoholism, and you may or may not see an attempt at a human deboning (yes, like what you do with fish). I always appreciate the darker side to fantasy novels and this definitely doesn’t disappoint.
The Magic System
I found the magic system and set up to be VERY confusing…and I read a lot of fantasy books that involve unique magic systems. There was just a lot going on and, in my opinion, could have been stripped down or explained over the course of the entire series (which I hope there’s a book 2 but we’ll get to that soon). Castallans are all born with some type of “main” magic – earth, water, fire, etc. – which is known as elemental magic. Then, on top of that, there’s also a different type of magic that can be done with words. THEN, on top of that, you can also do magic with writing. THEN, to make things more confusing, some special people have “propio”, or a unique inner magic that gives them strange abilities. I seriously had to take notes on this while reading and I found myself over the entire set up super early on.
Finn and Alfie are both broken, dark and complex. I usually love when characters have layers that need to be pulled back, but for some reason I just couldn’t connected with them. I still feel the same way about these two now as I did on page one – indifferent. The character growth in this book is amazing, but the personalities didn’t mesh well with me.
THAT WAS THE ENDING?
I went into this book thinking I was going to have a crazy, intense cliffhanger because Nocturna is book one in a series, but I was sadly disappointed. There are multiple threats that are mentioned throughout the book – the main antagonist (dark magic mentioned in the recap), the mob boss Finn has to deal with (also mentioned), then of course the plot twist shocker about Alfie’s brother’s murder. At 3/4 complete, nothing had been resolved, issues were forgotten about, and I thought for sure the ending was going to be heartbreaking. Instead, I got a lukewarm goodbye scene and an “all is seemingly well”. I honestly felt like I was reading a standalone, which I guess works well for those who don’t want to complete the series.
The Ugly Truth
Would I recommend Nocturna to my friends? Possibly…but I’d be hesitant. It has an awesome premise and the potential to be great, but I really want to see how book two plays out. It might make me feel differently about my read of book one. So, at this moment in time, WE’LL SEE.
Talk To Me
Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? Will you be adding it to your reading list soon?