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Reviewed by Cecelia Hopkins for Readers' Favorite
Rise of the Catalyst (Ancient Magicks Book 1) by Honor Raconteur follows the case of a mysterious mask. Arwen Arnoult is called to the Boston Museum to investigate a powerful phenomenon that makes stones in the wall spin. Purchased on the black market, and incorrectly categorized as Incan, the mask is determined to break any seal Arwen places upon it. Arwen and the team must consult university expert Dr. Warwick who believes the artifact might belong to the ancient Anasazi. Could a trip into the desert help the team find a holy place where the artifact might safely rest?
Rise of the Catalyst by Honor Raconteur is set in 1910, making it a Gaslamp fantasy. I enjoyed the setting, which featured American society infused with magic. The early 20th century saw modernization and change, allowing the heroine to behave in a liberated fashion. I was excited to see Arwen wearing “culottes”, undertaking contracts, and issuing instructions to her team. She was amazing during the fight scenes and staunch throughout the trek into the desert. I liked the way Arwen’s disability was reimagined into a capacity to see magical energy. I also enjoyed the character of Nozomi Banks, who was a loyal friend and an interesting sidekick. The prejudice Nozomi had to face for being bi-racial was frustrating and annoying. Several male characters, including Dr. Warwick and James Law, set honorable examples. This book should appeal to fans of action and magical realism as the archaeological adventure was seamlessly mixed with mystical vibes.