Thaddeus Cane has just learned that his father, Nathan, is a wizard and his mother Claire, presumed long-dead, was a powerful witch that had been transformed into a dragon to prevent the evil witch, Isadora, from stealing her power. Thaddeus is fifteen, and rapidly falling for the gnome next-door, Teofil Rhododendron. Thaddeus, Nathan, Teofil, and Teofil’s mother, brother, and sister are striking out on a mission to find Claire and protect her from Isadora. This is where the book opens.
Thaddeus finds traveling through the magical realm he never knew to be captivating. He’s also scared. He’s an untrained wizard, tracking down his dragon mother, and has no idea how he’ll be of help. Following an ogre attack, Nathan is left on the brink of death, and Teofil’s brother convinces Thaddeus and Teofil that they can find a powerful elixir to save Nathan at the mythical Well of Tears hidden deep in the Lost Forest. It means abandoning their primary mission, to find Claire, but it’s worth it to Thaddeus because he doesn’t even remember his mother, and his father has sacrificed everything to keep him safe his whole life.
The journey is dangerous, and new alliances must be made. Magical creatures are thin on the ground, but some are helpful and others are deadly. I loved the lush world-building and the magical content. There are brief moments of tenderness between Nathan and Teofil, as their relationship deepens. Teofil’s magic saves them all more than once, and Thaddeus makes some rudimentary magic that also assists. I don’t want to give away too much plot, but there are some seriously harrowing moments, and the end of the book is not even close to the end of the adventure. That said, like the first book in the series, the immediate danger is over by the end, and the plan continues to save Claire from Isadora—who we actually meet in this book. I had a few qualms about why Isadora didn’t kill Thaddeus when they meet, actually. It seemed so out-of-character, really. I can only assume that Isadora needs Thaddeus alive for some bigger purpose down the road, and it will all make sense later.
It’s a quick read, with interesting fantasy elements, dramatic plot turns, and a sweet (innocent, to this point) budding M/M romance between two teens of magical origins.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.