ARC Review

An Interesting Premise + A Dramatic Plotline = A Hit or Miss Read for Fantasy Readers! | ARC Review: The Antidote by Shelley Sackier

Magic is not allowed, under any circumstances — even if it could save someone’s life. Instead, there are herbal remedies and traditional techniques that have been painstakingly recorded in lieu of using the mystical arts. Fee knows this, so she keeps her magic a secret.

Except her best friend, Xavi, is deathly ill. He’s also the crown prince. Saving him is important, not only for her, but for the entire kingdom.

Fee’s desperation to save her friend means she can barely contain the magic inside her. And after the tiniest of slips, Fee is thrust into a dark and secretive world that is as alluring as it is dangerous.

If she gives in, it could mean she can save Xavi. But it also means that those who wish to snuff out magic might just snuff her out in the process.

Disclaimer: I read this as part of the #HarperLovesYA initiative hosted by Harper Collins India – a wonderful initiative by the publishing house to read more young adult books!

The Antidote has the one thing that is pretty much cements me getting interested in the book – such a pretty pretty cover. Yes, I am a #coverhoe and absolutely proud of it. In fact, I have to be honest here, I was more taken in by the cover than the blurb of the book.

In this world created by Ms. Sackier – there are four kingdoms, and there is harmony and peace among these kingdoms. However, an unexpected plague almost kills everyone in one of the kingdoms, Fireli – leaving the kingdom under quarantine for those who were not rescued and sent for asylum in the other kingdoms.

A decade later, the children and some adults who were rescued are now planning to return to Fireli, now that the kingdom is ending the quarantine – meaning that the kingdom is poised on the brink of change. This change, however, has not exactly ended the superstition against witches and magic, which remains banned till this day.

The Antidote, revolves around four different characters; three of whom were best friends as children and one of them went away because of the quarantine:

  • Xavi, the elder brother of Rye & intended of Quinn, is the heir to the throne and one who remained in Fireli, while it was under quarantine.
  • Rye, the second son and the spare to the throne, has been away from fireli because of the quarantine and will be back after 10 years. He is intended for Fee & will be seeing her after a decade.
  • Fee (Ophelia) is the one with magic and grew up with the Royal Princes – she is their best friend and knows that she has powers that she has to keep hidden, for fear of persecution. She has been in love with Rye, before she even knew what love was.
  • Quinn, a princess of the neighbouring kingdom has been promised to Xavi since their childhood and will now be coming to Fireli, for she has attained majority.

However, just as the Quarantine is supposed to end, Xavi falls dangerously ill and Fee has no choice but to use her magic to protect him, even as Rye and Quin arrive in the kingdom. However, the major upheaval comes when they realise that the sickness is not a sickness after all, but a close and personal attack on the heir and therefor, on Fireli itself.

Now, we had all the major ingredients to a successful fantasy book – and the fact that the author focuses on the arranged marriages as part and parcel of the life in this kingdom, should have been a brilliant stroke of genius, if not for the author trying force the idea of love in arranged marriages in the experience.

Neither of the couples had actually been in each other’s presence for a decade; so the focus should have been on getting to know each other again, especially in the midst of trying to unravel a conspiracy, instead of what ended up being a “love at first sight” experience. Children grow up, adults grow through their experiences and who we are as children is nowhere near close to who we become as adults – and its one thing that somehow slipped the author’s mind.

The Antidote had an amazing premise, and for those readers, who absolutely love everything dramatic, it will one heck of a ride from start till the end. For me, though the way arranged marriages were handled in this book, somehow ended up colouring my experience about the book *shrugs*.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ .75


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