Review: “At Yomi’s Gate: Book One of the Magma Sea Cycle” by John Meszaros

At Yomi’s Gate, Book One of the Magma Sea Cycle

 A review by Hannah.

Set in an Earth much like our own, volcanoes ring the Pacific Ocean.  People both fear and revere the volcanoes.  A select few have a deeper connection that allows them to control fire and lava.  Whether they were born with the power, acquired it, or had it thrust upon them unwillingly, all must learn to control their abilities to improve their connection to the Earth and the Magma Sea that lies beneath her crust.

Futomi has been forced by his uncle, Daimyo Kotoheisei, to track down the Batu-no-kaji, a living weapon of mass destruction.  Instead he finds Sakura, the girl who bears the god of fire imprisoned in a tattoo on her back and Ikuko, a shy but impressive priestess.  Even though his family is a stake, Futomi chooses to help Sakura instead of turning her over to his homicidal and powerful uncle.  When an accident involving a powerful artifact merges Sakura with the fire god, she resolves to save Futomi’s family.  Unfortunately her rescue mission ends in tragedy, when she loses control of her new abilities.  Her actions will take Sakura and her friends on a journey to confront the creatures of the underworld and those responsible for her transformation.

This book started out fast and shallow, like a stream.  The main antagonist is killed within the first quarter of the book.  Parties are quickly and easily created.  Fumito finds Sakura and Ikuko within the first chapter.  People were convinced to take certain actions, even if they were violently opposed to those actions a few pages ago.  Even though Sakura and Ikuko know they are being hunted by the Daimyo, they still team up with Futomi and he is not the most reliable person.

But, just like a stream, you must watch your step while wading through this book.  Before you know it, the story is more like a deep river.  Rash decisions turn out to be well thought out.  “Trusted” allies are only trusted as far the other party can throw them, which in Ikuko’s case is actually pretty far.  This story starts out with a save the maiden fairy tale vibe, but it turns into a tale about overcoming adversity, repairing damaged relationships, and always striving for a better future.

I am looking forward to the rest of this series.  I want to know what happens to everyone and who we will meet next.  There is so much potential that the story could literally go anywhere.  This part of the series is set in medieval Japan, but the next book may be anywhere along the Pacific Ocean.  I can’t wait to see how the characters deal with language barriers, secrets from their pasts, and the futures that awaits them.

My rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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