Mirian is a mage college dropout, only she hasn’t told her parents about her failure yet. They’re social-climbers, and they’re sure that an advantageous marriage for Mirian is the family’s ticket to a place at the top of Aydori society. However, war with the empire is brewing, and soon her mother won’t care about the opera or making a perfect match – she, along with the rest of the country, will be running for her life. Only Mirian decides to take destiny into her own hands and runs toward danger. With the help of shape-shifting Tomas, she may survive war long enough to do something good.
The cover art suggests a steampunk aesthetic, but this isn’t really steampunk – it’s high fantasy. WHAT?! Yes, high fantasy with deft characterization, which actually makes it unusual as well as unexpected. The Silvered is peopled with flawed characters who change, learn and whose motivations do not fit in black and/or white boxes. It’s not that it’s completely character-driven, it is that there are no flat, clichéd personalities or relationships. The story’s scope is EPIC, but it is made accessible by the paranormal element (werewolves) and small, everyday interactions. It is an utterly appealing, unputdownable adventure – with teeth.
The one and only caveat to my enjoyment of The Silvered was a certain plot point that was eerily similar to a development in Kristin Cashore’s Graceling. If you’ve read one of these books and then pick up the other you’ll know exactly what I mean. To be clear: it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the chase, of Mirian’s attempts at harnessing mage power (and finding herself in the process), or of the political machinations within the capital city. It simply took me out of the story and became a ‘thing to note in the review.’ While Huff completes a story arc, there’s room for more in this world of weres and mages and science-crazed humans, and I hope to see more fantastic world-building and power to come.
Recommended for: fans of adult and young adult fantasy (it’s probably a good crossover title, as the protagonist is nineteen years old), those who love paranormal fiction and have wondered if they dare try epic storytelling, and anyone with a taste for adventure, risk-taking, menace and destiny in their pleasure reading.