Review: Plague Arcanist (Frith Chronicles #4) by Shami Stovall

Deserts. Rogues. A secret hidden in an underground maze.

Every moment counts as Volke Savan races south to the city of New Norra. His goal: find Theasin Venrover, the famous artificer who may have a cure for the arcane plague. Separated from most of the Frith Guild—and even his sister—Volke must rely on the crew of the airship, the Sun Chaser, to help him find Theasin in time.

To complicate matters, the desert city of New Norra is steeped in mystery, and the massive maze under the streets could potentially solve all of Volke’s problems. With hunters after him, and dread pirates in the port, Volke finds himself forced to choose between equally terrible options…

Continue the Frith Chronicles with the fourth book, Plague Arcanist!


What is Plague Arcanist about?

This installment of Stovall’s series picks up where the last left off: with spoiler for Coliseum Arcanist Volke facing his infection with the arcane plague and leaving with the Sun Chaser. Adelgis determines that the best course of action for the arcanists will be to find his father in New Norra, a desert land known to be home to the mysterious and legendary khepera. Adelgis’s father has been working on a cure for the arcane plague for years, and the khepera may factor into it due to their mythical restoration powers.

Genre: YA Fantasy

I don’t have a lot to expand on in the genre of these novels. They’re pretty good about maintaining the hallmarks of the fantasy world.

Tropes: Self Isolation

For this part of Volke’s hero journey–which is undoubtably what this series is–he must struggle in what feels like extreme isolation. Despite a childhood with only Gravekeeper William and Illia by his side, Volke felt loved and secure on the Isle of Ruma. Now, he has left the Frith guild behind. Despite having Fain and Adelgis by his side, and his new friend Karna, Volke continues to feel increasingly more alone and is additionally fearful of leaning too much on Luthair, whose exposure to the plague must be limited.

Plot: Volke’s Plaguey Adventures

This is ultimately the “sidequest” installment in the series. For the first time since the first book, Volke spends extensive time without his fellow apprentices and mentor in the Frith guild. He explores a lot of themes, moments, and emotional struggles that are unique to his part of the story, addressing foreshadowing and dropped hints from the first three books before moving on with his hero journey.

The Good

This book tugged on my heart strings in just….so many ways. To avoid spoilers, I won’t discuss the ending as much as it pains me (it was very very good). I enjoyed seeing the bond Volke formed with Fain, now that he’s a part of the gang, and I also really enjoyed seeing his friendship with Adelgis again after last book, where Adelgis was unconscious for most of the story. The way Volke leans on Fain, Adelgis, and even the crew of the Sun Chaser when loneliness threatens him is fantastic. I also love Luthair’s determination to save his arcanist from any fate, proving time and time again that Volke has more than earned his eldrin’s loyalty. The reveal with Volke’s family history was one I kind of saw coming, but it was still played out in an interesting and surprising way. Overall, the side characters introduced and fleshed out in this book were excellent additions to the story, and boy did I love getting to see Calisto again in a new way.

The Okay

Some of the plot regarding Joze was a little bit lackluster. I thought it was a good inclusion, and I’m invested in seeing more about his and Volke’s relationship as it grows. But I feel like Volke went into the situation with a variety of emotions that he either deflated for himself or just never addressed again. I would’ve liked a bit more confrontation between them, or perhaps more emotional bonding.

The Bad

Haha, did you really think I had anything genuinely bad to say about this book?

Final Thoughts

This book brings some much needed angst, fear, and depth to the emotions of the series. We’ve had powerful confrontations before, but this whole novel is a confrontation of Volke’s worst fears. The emotional impact of that for the entire series cannot be understated. This is the moment in his hero’s journey where he doubts himself, where he experiences loneliness and isolation from the Frith Guild and his closest friends and family. But Volke is still not alone, he inspires so much love and loyalty in those around him that they join him on his journey and seek solutions rather than lose him. In this book, Volke really comes into his own as a protagonist, and his struggles are so real. When his success towards the end is celebrated in the most wonderful way possible, as a reader I couldn’t help but want to cheer for him. This book is a powerful one, and I adored every moment of it.

By Catherine

I'm a lover of books, coffee, wine, and bees. Happy to join the ranks of book bloggers everywhere!

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