Imagine a world filled with elemental beings, subjugated to human masters. These beings are called sylphs. Each female sylph has a special gift: power over healing, water, air, fire or water. The males are warriors... battle sylphs. Humans can open a portal to the sylph world and if the sylph sees someone worthy of being a master, they'll cross over. But the battle sylphs are being tricked. They see lovely young women in the portal... but when each battler crosses over, the humans kill the female lure and force the battle sylph into the service of a man.
The king's men planned that very scenario to lure a battler for the prince. But the young woman they kidnapped for the sacrifice was more resourceful than they expected. Solie turns the tables and manages to claim the sylph for her own. And instead of subservience through a bond of hatred... her sylph worships her... wants nothing more than to please her.
They make their way out of the kingdom and band with others wishing to live in a new way. In this makeshift community, the sylphs are tied to humans, but they are otherwise free. The many constraints of the kingdom don't exist. And as Solie and her battler grow closer, it creates lasting repercussions not only for them, but for all the sylphs around them.
The author has constructed a rich and complicated fantasy world. But I didn't have any trouble following it. And the more I read, the more I liked it. The secondary characters were every bit as interesting and engaging as the leads, maybe more so... and there were no points that I felt bored or anxious to get back to another POV.
I had only two complaints about the entire thing. Primarily, I wish Solie were older. She's only 17 and while it's very common for 17 year-olds to be sexually active, it was hard for me to think of her as a woman or a romantic lead. This is even more true with Lizzie --a side character who is even younger and clearly the intended love interest for the next book. (I pray there is a serious time jump.) --The second minor complaint... the battler's name. I never could get past her calling him "Heyou." I get it, but it annoyed me.
Please know that both these peeves amounted to very little in the grand scheme of things. I liked the book a lot --and I'm off to read The Shattered Sylph
to see what happens next. 4 1/2 stars.*ARC Provided by NetGalley