Flower’s Fang by Madison Keller – 4 stars
In the Kin-Jegera Empire the strength of your magic or your claws determines your destiny – too bad our heroes are short on both!
Prince Se’ls, one of the magical flower Kin and only child of Queen Se’uan, has a terrible secret – he has no magic. Forced by his mother, the Queen, to tour the empire to search for his magical companion, Se’ls is terrified of returning home empty handed.
Arara, long-furred runt and joke of her pack, is dreading the upcoming hunt, where the young Jegera show off their strength by taking down one of the fearsome armored hukra by claw alone. Arara is terrified that her superstitious pack will tear her apart if they learn her secret, that she was born telepathic and telekinetic.
With assassins and dark plots threatening the empire, Prince Se’ls and Arara must band together to save it, or perhaps to destroy it.
A coming-of-age action story, this book takes a good look at bullying and oppression and the parallels between the two. This is very much a tale of the underdogs (no pun intended) meeting challenges that ought to be handled by those stronger and wiser. At the same time, the action centers around a political intrigue plot which blooms (pun totally intended) over the course of the book.
The two main characters are well rounded and the explorations of their relationship is interesting. As for the rest of the named characters, most are somewhat thin in terms of characterization. A few surprised me by either being or not being the bad guy. The resolution of the relationships with some of the secondary characters left me a little unsatisfied as too simple.
Also of note, Arara always seems to be exhausted by everything she does, which I found a bit repetitive as the story went on.
Even with my quibbles, I still enjoyed the story quite a bit, as it’s told well and never lost my attention. I recommend this for ages 12+ who like fantasy told through nonhuman eyes.