Review: Academy Arcanist by Shami Stovall

Academy Arcanist by Shami Stovall
Genre: YA Magic Academy Fantasy
Length: 446 pages

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Hopes. Dreams. And literal nightmares out to kill a young boy.

Gray Lexly, son of a candlemaker, wants to escape his life of old-world technologies and study at the prestigious Astra Academy, a school for arcanists—those who can wield magic. But Gray has a major problem. Every night, as he sleeps, he’s visited by monsters. When they injure Gray in his dreams, he wakes with the same wounds in real life…

On the night Gray might finally die in his nightmares, he is saved by the kind and mysterious Professor Helmith, a powerful arcanist. She offers to protect Gray and invites him to attend Astra Academy.

Before that can happen, Gray must bond with a mystical creature to become an arcanist himself. Will he bond with a unicorn? A pegasus? A kitsune? Whatever he bonds with will determine his magical abilities, so he must choose wisely.

And when trouble finds Professor Helmith, Gray must become powerful enough to help her and fend off the terrible nightmares, before it’s too late…


Thank you The Write Reads and the author for a free copy in exchange for an honest review as part of the tour.

Academy Arcanist is the first book in a new series in Stovall’s Frith universe. I haven’t read the other series but they have been on my radar. So I couldn’t resist signing up for the tour.

We follow the twins Gray and Sorin as they join the Astra Academy, a school where only those who bond with mystical creatures are allowed to study. The twins are invited to meet and possibly bond with some mystical creatures. Gray needs to bond with one if he wants to meet the professor who’s helped to keep his dreams safe. The nightly terrors he’s had experienced for the last two years left him with scars, leftovers from wounds he got in his dreams. Sometimes dreams do crossover into real life.

The bond between Gray and Sorin fun to read about. They’re so different, they could be opposites, but there’s no doubt that the two would sacrifice anything to protect the other. The whole class has interesting characters, all with their own quirks. It’s fun to see how each personality fits with the mystical creatures they bonded with. It’s clear early on what the relationships between the characters are and while not much changes in this book, it does set up the character arcs for all of them for the rest of the series.

The story itself might not be the most original but that’s okay because Stovall took those tropes and executed them masterfully. It made the book fast paced and fun to read. The slight humoristic quips between the characters lighten the tone when Gray is trying to find out who is trying to kill him and Sorin’s companion, a knight of darkness. There’s definitely a deeper, darker edge in this YA story.

I highly recommend Academy Arcanist to everyone who wants more magic schools, mystical creatures as companions, and an incredible world with interesting magic system. It’s an incredible read you’ll want to finish in a day.

About the Author

Shami Stovall is a multi-award-winning author of fantasy and science fiction. Before that, she taught history and criminal law at the college level, and loved every second. When she’s not reading fascinating articles and books about ancient China or the Byzantine Empire, Stovall can be found playing way too many video games, especially RPGs and tactics simulators.

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