Book Reviews

Book Review: The Conjurer

Title: The Conjurer
Author: Luanne G. Smith
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Magic

What it’s about: Sidra is hiding out in her bottle when she is called forth by Yvette, the daughter of the Fee, and told that King Oberon wants to see her. Seeing no choice, Sidra visits with the King, who tells her that she must leave the Fee lands where she has been hiding for long enough, to which Sidra asks that she not be taken back to Paris where she has been trapped by a spell that would not let her leave the city. The King deliberates, and looks into the future, before agreeing to that he will send her elsewhere. Without warning, both Sidra and Yvette are portaged back out of the Fee lands and into a town that Sidra recognizes–the town that she had lived in before her husband, Hariq, had been murdered.

She quickly whisks Yvette out of the streets and into her home–which has not been touched since she hid it. She reveals to Yvette that she shared that home with Hariq, before he was killed and that is why there are pieces of his items left around. She tells Yvette that she and Hariq were actually from a two different Jinn tribes–hers is the tribe of the sunrise, while he was of the sunset tribe–and they had fallen in love as birds watching an even unfold in the human world. Even though they were of different tribes, they wished to be together, but the other members of the Jinn tribes would not give it a rest, and so to escape those pressures, Sidra and Hariq concocted a plan in which they would take a potion that mimics death to get rid of the trail. They did follow through in the end, though Hariq never woke up and she was charged for murder, which is why she had ended up in Prison with Elena and Yvette. She then tells Yvette to stay at home, and she heads out into the world to meet with the leader of their Jinn tribe to whom she and Hariq had paid tribute to previously. There, she speaks with him, and he tells her that she must see the events unfolding to their end, and there’s no way to avoid that.

In the meantime, Elena and Jean-Paul–who are newly married–are finishing up with their vines, when Jean-Paul mentions that he’s seen a black dog lurking about the vineyard. Elena sees the pup that he’s referring to, and she is sure that the dog is a case of transmogrification. The dog looks out into the distance, and soon enough Elena sees two men coming up to the house–one of whom is Brother Anselm, and an unidentified stranger. Brother Anselm introduces the stranger to Elena as Jamra. The two soon find themselves squabbling over each other as Jamra tries to force Elena to give information on Sidra’s whereabouts–which Elena does not know, though she does think back to the last time she saw Sidra and realizes that she must have escaped Paris and its bounding spell through the Fee lands. Jamra puts Jean-Paul under a spell in which his mind makes him wander the desert in order to keep Elena compliant to his wishes, and Elena does use the Shadow World to try to find Sidra. Instead, she finds Titania, who chases off Jamra while he tries to piggyback on Elena’s mind through the shadow world. Titania then tells Elena that she must find them and tell Yvette that she is doing something dangerous. Elena returns to the present and does not tell the location of Sidra beyond telling Jamra that she’s to the south.

Jamra takes them on a tapestry from over Elena’s fireplace and uses it as a method of transportation, while Brother Anselm stays behind with Jean-Paul and takes care of him. The two fly south over towns and villages, until Elena tells Jamra that she is tired, and wants to rest. He takes them to a restaurant in a town in southern France, and then Elena gets him drunk enough that he falls asleep when they enter the illusion of the tent that he had set up for them. Elena is able to enter the Shadow world and check in on Jean-Paul to make sure that he’s doing okay and she notices that while he is still running high with a fever, it seems to has lessened. The following morning, Elena gets up with Jamra and while they are talking, he transports them to the tree where they had stashed the tapestry, only for them to find that the tapestry is gone. Suddenly, Elena gets pulled away from Jamra by a magical force, and finds herself on the platform of a train station with a ticket. Deciding to take her chance to escape and go help Sidra, she gets onto the train–of course, she had never changed out of her vineyard clothes so she looks a little shabby for the ticket that she has supposedly purchased.

The dog waits for the train to pull out, and talks with the creature that he has been helping for some time, before running off to follow the train. Elena recognizes him as he weaves in and out of places, keeping up pace with the train, and at one point as they’re on their way to the town that Elena wants to get to, she encounters another witch, Camille, who owns the most renowned perfumery in that town and they share some inside knowledge on how each of their magics work.

While Elena rides south, Sidra and Yvette meet with the potions man in the magic black market–Yanis–and Yvette steals an amulet from him, while Sidra confronts him over the potion that killed her husband and also buys additional magical items to do a spell to cloak her from Jamra, who she knows is coming for her. They spend some time also stealing the other amulets, which she hopes will give her the opportunity to hide her footprint even further. Things go awry, however, when they’ve found all four amulets only to return to Sidra’s home having been turned upside down–someone had broken in and stolen the amulet she took from Yanis. Sidra and Yvette return to Yanis–and find him in the house, where Sidra threatens him again, asking him about the amulet that was stolen, and he tells her that he was taken there by someone else. He attempts to give her back the amulet, only to find that he does not have it. In exchange, Sidra leaves Yanis with an illusion of a snake.

The two girls walk down together arguing back and forth with each other about the snake. By this time, Elena had arrived in town, being lead by the black dog to the town market. Upon hearing Sidra and Yvette, she quickly thinks and creates an illusion for a store front–which has the intended effect of catching Sidra’s eye. The ladies meet up inside the salon, and together they start trying to come up with a plan once Elena warns them that Jamra is coming. At that point Sidra reveals that what had really happened was that she and Hariq were traveling and they found a mythical, hidden city in their travels, where they encountered a skeleton with a dagger. When they brought the dagger back, they asked around and they found out that one of the Ifirit–a type of Jinn–knew what it was–a dagger that brings chaos. They believe that through that Ifirit, Jamra found out about it and has been hell-bent on getting a hold of it to destroy the rest of the world. So Hariq and she had came up with the plan about faking their death, and they followed everything but then the potion went wrong, and Hariq died, after which she has been blamed in his death because she’s the only one that was alive.

Sidra takes off to wander the city and see what his happening, during which time she encounters Jamra who tells her that she must turn over the dagger, and Sidra says that she will not do it. In the meantime, Elena takes Yvette to Camille to talk about creating a perfume that would repel Jinn–Camille agrees to help them with that, but she will need Yvette’s assistance. Elena leaves them to it, and then finds Yanis to help her make protective spells–she can tell his magic is beyond the regular potions master that he pretends to be. It turns out that Yanis is actually a former priest of the Seven Stars Order, that protects magic, but he never finished his training due to dealing with some Ghouls that destroyed his leg, and he lost the confidence. By watching him, Elena realizes that he is meticulous and that there is no way that he would have made a mistake of the potion that Sidra accuses him off. Sidra eventually returns, and learns about Yanis’ true identity, after which she forgives him for her husband’s death, realizing that it wasn’t him, though she is still skeptical of him.

As Sidra refuses to give Jamra the dagger, Jamra calls in a sandstorm to blanket the town and everyone in it, suffocating them to death. Elena makes her way out in the oncoming storm, and realizes that Yvette and Camille have come up with a perfume that both repels the jinn but also puts everyone in the village to sleep. Sidra also finds them and likes the idea–that if the town dies, they will not suffer. The fight begins on the rooftop and Jamra brings Yvette and Camille, both of whom he has captured. Sidra tries to pretend that she does not care about either, but ends up trying to save both, with Yvette running away, only to be caught by the Ifirit and placed in iron. Elena, in the meantime, realizes that Jean-Paul is on his way to the town, and with Yannis, she helps protect the train from the destruction. Together with Yanis they get everyone into the train depot, and put them to sleep with the exception of Jean-Paul.

The group follows the black dog who helps them get back in the sandstorm, and Elena sees Sidra running around the rooftops, before losing her, and when the dog gets frantic, she uses the shadow world to find Sidra, and realizes that the dog has a strong love for Sidra, which is what allows her to find Sidra. This is how she realizes that Sidra gets lost and turnt around, as if a magic was at force. They follow her to the Perfumery owned by Camille, where the argument between Jamra and Sidra finds a fever pitch because he cannot find the bottles that contain the dagger. He starts destroying the perfumery, and finds the rest of them cowering in the corner. Sidra tells him to ignore them, but the dog comes back into the fight when Sidra gets knocked out by Jamra, and takes out Jamra by turning into a man–Hariq. With Yanis’ help, he speaks Jamra’s true name, and captures the jinn in a vase, ensuring that Jamra cannot carry out the evil deeds.

When Sidra wakes up and sees that Jamra is there but it doesn’t look like Jamra, she worries until she recognizes Hariq’s voice, when she becomes mad. Hariq, along with Titania, and the old Tribute Leader that she met in the caves explain what happened–this had been planned in order to make deceive Jamra well they had to make it seem real. So they made Hariq’s dose of the potion a bit stronger, so that he would wake up long after she had in order to give her the impression that he was killed. The intention was to get her out of the jail before she got to the guillotine, and Titania reveals that she has always been watching Yvette, so she put both Yvette and Elena in Sidra’s path by making them go to jail along her. They weren’t counting on the women escaping, and later on Sidra disappearing to the Fee lands, but it was all done in an effort to bring Jamra down. Sidra reveals that she had placed the dagger in Yanis’ fake leg, and it had been safe there the whole time.

Ultimately, Elena goes back with Jean-Paul to her home, Yvette decides to stay and learns perfumery with Titania’s blessing, while Sidra, Hariq and Yannis have to make a trip to the Order of the Seven Stars with the dagger to keep it protected.

My Thoughts: Sidra is one of my least favorite characters of the series, and while the book was highly enjoyable, I also guessed a lot of the plot–the dog was Hariq, as I expected. So it’s a book that doesn’t have a lot of surprises, and also I feel like there is a bit of a contradiction there about Titania placing Elena and Yvette in Sidra’s path–this is never quite explained in what kind of manner they were placed into each other’s path, though Titania does explain how she’s placed herself in the path of Jean-Paul to help him find the matches.

Overall good book and would recommend reading if you’re interested in this kind of fantasy world.

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