Phineas Smith is the only human at Mather’s School for Magick. He has the ability to tap into the most powerful raw magick, the ley line, but Finn cannot control the power. No one who has had his ability has survived as the power burns them out, and being in his last year of college, Finn is the oldest survivor of this power. Still, magickal beings of all kinds try to possess Finn for his ability and Finn has survived vicious attacks, as well as a kidnapping and torture. Finn just wants to live long enough to make sure his parents are secure. He doesn’t feel like he fits in anywhere, especially with his roommate Roark. Roark, who is the Prince of Air and Darkness. Roark, who is the son of the Queen of Air and Darkness, the same queen that kidnapped Finn and tortured him for his power.
Unseelie Prince Roark is centuries old. He is allowed to live at the college since he is the liaison to the unseelies on campus and he is in charge of their well-being. There is severe unrest in the fairie realm and there is a desperation to stop a seemingly inevitable war. Roark can’t let Finn see the truth as Roark has gone to great lengths to keep it from him. But Roark is the one person that can help Finn control his magick. Roark is the last person Finn wants to turn to, but the spark between them is way more than uncontrolled magick. As the men form a shaky alliance, true feelings surface. But it’s that one secret that could destroy any future for them both.
M.A. Grant puts us right into this world of fantasy from the first page. In the prologue, we quickly learn that Finn was tortured by the Queen, who is also Roark’s mother. Finn managed to escape, with scars to remind him, but all of the finer details of his escape remain lost to him. There isn’t a lot of world building here. Finn knows about the college for magickal beings because he has raw power, and a variety of different species are casually mentioned throughout the story, and it does take some time to get settled into this world.
Finn and Roark have been masquerading with dislike for each other for the past six years. They’re not exactly enemies, but Roark’s gruff exterior has Finn constantly on the alert. And, neither one of them will admit to any sexual tension, although that’s a big factor, a big flashing neon sign of a big factor. The relationship between the men was a great aspect to this book as there is almost a fated mates feel to their story and you can feel how they are meant to be together. But I would have liked more about Roark. He is centuries old, yet is still under the direct command of his mother, the queen, and he fell in love with a college student. I also needed more as to why Roark was still attending college classes after all these centuries. If it was just to keep an on-campus presence, that was never made clear. Roark also has several fairie tricks and there were things that had to be accepted at face value as a book set in a fantasy world.
There is a lot of story here. There is the relationship between the men, but also the fairie realm on the verge of war, Finn’s uncontrolled power, a controlling queen mother, and a devastating secret. And, when Finn starts a relationship with Roark, the queen who tortured Finn would casually appear in his living room, and there was so much going on that some of the necessary and finer details got lost for me. But given that it’s a fantasy setting that may be easier for some readers to roll with.
The end of the book moves fast and you have to constantly be processing what is going on from one scene to the next. This story is not finished as the ending is a new beginning of sorts and there is a war to fight and a lot more story to come for Finn and Roark. For readers looking for a fantasy setting with a destined relationship, as well as fairie politics and unrest, The Prince of Air and Darkness may turn your head.