Book Review: Amoura Awakened, Meg Kramer

Book Review: Amoura Awakened, Meg Kramer

Amoura Awakened, Meg Kramer

Fantasy: Amoura Awakened, Meg Kramer

 

Amoura Renly is 16. Some teenagers find a way to become magnets for hostility–they look different, they sound different, they are different, and for many people of all ages different is threatening. Amoura is one of those magnets, and she is often bullied and tormented by her peers.

 

One day Amoura is being picked on in class. Her notebook, full of personal writing and pictures, is taken and destroyed before her eyes. She feels a strange sensation come over her, and she faints on the classroom floor.

 

When she awakens, her teacher and the school nurse are there. Her classmates are huddled together across the room, staring at her. The boy who had taken her notebook had been magically thrown against a wall, her notebook had caught on fire, all of the desks and been swept aside and upended. Amoura’s magic has awakened.

 

Amoura, though, never knew she was magical. Her fathers had adopted her. They were humans. Nothing was known about her birth family. Witches were not allowed to attend public schools. There were special academies for them, where they could learn how to use their powers–and where they would not threaten the humans.

 

So off to the Elderwood school Amoura goes. Portland gives way to San Francisco. One thing does not change, though. Amoura does have some friends at Elderwood, but she is also the target of bullies there. Still, she has two close friends, the fifth year boy who is mentoring her first year class is paying her special attention (and he is really cute), and most of her classes are going very well.

 

Amoura, though, is different. She can’t seem to access magic in the same way her classmates do. Her powers often defy her control, turning water green instead of to ice and spiraling unpredictably out of control when she loses her temper. The techniques that work so well for other students are beyond Amoura. Compounding the problem is the presence of a witch “secret police” force. People who access magic in atypical ways are disappearing in custody, and Amoura realizes that she may be on their list.

 

Meg Kramer has taken a very familiar trope and made it her own. I am not sure whether the craze began with Harry Potter, but the “magical academy” plot could probably fill its own section in a library by now. Amoura Awakened has elements in common with many other books of this type: a seemingly ordinary person finding out they have tremendous power, a supportive mentor, a vicious classmate, and an external enemy plotting to seize power both in the school and in the government. Some of the differences, though, reflect a very modern understanding. Amoura has two fathers: a multiracial gay married couple who love her wholeheartedly. Her classmates are from diverse backgrounds and represent more than just white westerners. One of her professors is non-binary.

 

There is a powerful subplot that spoke to me. “Humans” and “witches” know about each other, live in the same communities, work together, buy things from each other, etc. This does not mean that things are golden. There is a lot of fear and animosity between many of the witches and many of the humans. One of Amoura’s friends lived outside of a small town in Idaho. She was homeschooled and her family kept their magic a secret. The town had persecuted witches in the not too distant past, driving them away or killing them. Amoura’s family loved their home, but they kept interactions with the townfolk to a bare minimum, lest they also be attacked. 

 

There are many parallels to our own society, more than I want to get into here. Suffice it to say, Amoura Awakened is a sensitive and compassionate book in ways that extend far beyond the characters.

 

Our thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things for our copy of Amoura Awakened, given so we could write an honest review. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives on this novel, check out the other bloggers on this tour.

 

Amoura Awakened, Meg Kramer

Book Review: Amoura Awakened, Meg Kramer

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