Firespell: Chloe Neill
Page count: 256
Publication Date: January 5, 2010
From the author of the Chicagoland Vampires novels.
A new series about a boarding school filled with something worse than homework.
Lily's parents have sent her to a fancy boarding school in Chicago filled with the ultra-rich. If that wasn't bad enough, she's hearing and seeing bizarre things on St. Sophie's creepy campus. Her roommate, Scout, keeps her sane, but keeps disappearing at night. When one day Lily finds Scout running from real-life monsters, she learns the hard way that Scout is involved in a splinter group of rebel teens.
They protect Chicago from demons, vamps, and dark magic users. It's too bad Lily doesn't have powers of her own to help. At least, none that she's discovered yet...
Chloe Neill's Dark Elite series begins with Firespell, which sets up a wonderful world of Adepts and the bad guys they seek out. The main character is Lily, a snarky teen who is shipped off to boarding school in Chicago so her parents may take sabbatical in Germany - or so Lily thinks.
At St. Sophia's, Lily meets and quickly befriends Scout, the loaner and seemingly outcast young girl who's just as snarky but way more mysterious. Lily follows Scout on one of her many nightly outings and discovers a hidden world of magical teens and monsters - the latter of which attacks Lily, ultimately "marking" her and giving her powers of her own.
The Adepts - the group Scout secretly meets at night - are a rebel group of magic users who want to keep peace and harmony in the normal world. They are willing to give up their powers once they reach the age where they would have to steal the "essence" from others to keep their magic. There are only a few of them - taking on the rest of the magical world who are abducting people. Lily is shunned by most members of this group for her lack of "abilities", but once she develops a power of her own, she leads the team in search of Scout, who has been taken.
Firespell is very well written and has a nice flow. It's a tad slow at the beginning - like most first installments in a series - but the characters are so well-developed and enjoyable that you barely notice. Lily's crush - a werewolf named Jason - is the one member of the Adept team (other than Scout) who believes in Lily and draws the other reluctant members to her side to find Scout.
Chloe Neill has begun such a wonderful world of magic and mystery and well-written characters that I find myself eagerly waiting for the next installment. I give Firespell 4 stars.