Lodestone-peddler Melaine is desperate to stop hustling her raw magic for a tuppence. Her rare gift of infusing her magic into a lodestone to sell for another’s use and never keeping any for herself is nothing but a degrading path to an early grave.
Yearning for a better life, Melaine turns to her unconventional idol, the powerful but sinister Overlord, sorcerer-ruler of Centara. When she achieves an audience and arrives at his reclusive retreat of ancient Highstrong Keep, she finds that the compelling, handsome man who conquered a kingdom by the age of twenty is now a weak, shadowed husk, and he needs her lodestones to give him strength. In exchange, he will take her on as his apprentice.
Trapped in Highstrong with a half-crazed prisoner, a strict servant, and the Overlord, Melaine learns that they may all be prey to far more malevolent forces than the Overlord’s black-magic experiments. Faced with menacing apparitions, ancient curses, and an even greater horror that could threaten the entire kingdom if unleashed, Melaine’s penchant for survival is contested by her growing feelings for the Overlord and her path toward finding a deeper meaning to life than the pure power she once craved.
"Beauty and the Beast meets Howl's Moving Castle! This grabbed me pretty much right away and I plowed through it in one night. I was quite happy that "Beauty" had a lot more agency in her story: she gets to choose her path to the Beast. Overall, this is a haunted castle story with a plucky heroine and a Byronicly tortured hero. What more could you want? Recommended!"
"LODESTONE is a dark fantasy tale with immersive world building and a compelling heroine following a plot with hints of Beauty and the Beast. The world and magic system give Forrister a lot of room to write more books in this world, and I hope she does because there is a lot to love here. Between the setting, the protagonist, and the magic, I’m not sure which is my favorite because they were all done so well."
"If you are a fan of dark fantasy, morally grey characters with room to grow, and fascinating, original magic systems, don't miss it! The magic system in LODESTONE was unlike anything I personally have read before... The concept of the lodestones themselves was fascinating and ripe for further exploration in other stories in this world, I think!! The comparison Forrister makes of giving magic to another person in this way with sex work really gave a heavy emotional currency to magic, which was expanded on later in the story when we explore the idea of what it would feel like if someone were to strip your magic without your consent. ...Overall, I devoured this book. There were twists and turns, fascinating magic and terrifying enemies! If this is what she pulls off in her very first novel, I can't wait to see what Forrister's future books hold!"
"This was the first book that I have read by Katherine Forrister and I was pleasantly surprised to find an enjoyable new author to follow. Overall, I thought this was an engaging novel and I found it to be well-written. The protagonist, Melaine, was so well-crafted (she seemed like a real, normal sort of person - flawed, but not obnoxious). She was a strong female character who was smart, resourceful, and determined. In addition, the world building was solid. All in all, a fun read and interesting new literary world to visit!"
"I really liked Melanie's character. A strong woman, not allowing herself to be consumed by the life forced onto her. She had a goal and did what she needed to do to obtain it."
"I really enjoyed the magic here and there’s actually more than just the lodestones that people like Melaine can make. The much more insidious magic is when objects are imbued with a spell that seeps into the holder..."
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Book Reviews with K.T. Egan
"Forrister's world building reminded me a lot of Robert Jordan's 'Wheel of Time' series (high praise to be sure) and her complex characters drew me in, the same way Tamora Pierce's characters have always been easy to connect with..."
Twisted in Pages with Karen Scott
"A fabulously dark and gritty fantasy with some amazing and complex world building and a unique and fascinating magic system..."
Bella's Bookish Blog
"The magic system was super interesting, and the world-building was absolutely fantastic. The dark and gothic aspect to this book made it all the more enjoyable and at times even chilling..."