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A young woman with a secret tries to save the world from destructive magical men in this dystopian book about family and climate catastrophe

Women are unfortunately used to living in a man's world, but it's high time for a change. Enter Anya, from Claire Wells' dystopian novel Lightborn: a 19-year-old cooking teacher with an enormous secret.

We meet Anya in the year 2091, after a group called the Brotherhood has taken over the Earth. After years of blackouts, wars, and infighting, only three men remain in control of the world: Brothers Oran, Anwar, and Uri. These three men, and their followers, are Lightborn--meaning they possess magical powers. Only men are Lightborn, or so everyone thinks. Turns out, Anya has the power, too; the revelation has ripped her family apart (leaving her living with her sister, uncle, and young cousin), so she's trying to put her power to good use.

The real problem is that the Brothers have used their power irresponsibly, causing irreparable harm to the environment in the process. They change rain to sun on a whim and create new fruits just because they feel like it. Until now, they've been hiding the destruction behind strange pockets in reality called Veils, but this solution won't work forever. The Brothers develop a devious plan to escape responsibility again, involving portals and a dangerous tournament. And, once they discover Anya, they want her to help them.

Lightborn feels so relatable and timely, with its themes of climate apocalypse and displacement, epic rebellions led by public school teachers, and powerful selfish men who are trying to find a scapegoat for problems they've created. Wells impressively renders the Brothers into well-rounded characters with secrets and messy personal lives, showing how even the best of intentions can be destroyed by greed. I sometimes wished the story would slow down a little, especially at the beginning, where there's a lot of exposition to explain the Brotherhood's rise. But overall, Wells deftly manages the multiple timelines that end up colliding along the course of the narrative. Even though the book ends on a stressful cliffhanger (this is the first work in a trilogy), there's still a sense of hope. As long as we have strong women working together, things might turn out okay.

Reviewed by

Co-Founder of The Haint
Batavia Public Library Tech/Reference Assistant
Literary Agent Assistant at Barbara Braun Associates, Inc.
Personal Assistant to Marilyn Stasio at the NYTBR
Book Review Editor for KGB Bar Lit Mag
Business Manager of Columbia Journal
MFA in Fiction, Columbia U

About the author

Baker by trade, writer by passion. I have been writing for years but never seriously. Covid and quarantine gave me the chance to really focus and come up with a story I am very proud of. view profile

Published on August 01, 2020

90000 words

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

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