Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith

The author builds an interesting, grungy future. It’s even more extreme on the haves–there’s something even more necessary to future work than skills or machinery operation: magic. The magic is hinted at as maybe advanced science, and the ruins of the old world definitely reflect modern skyscrapers, subway lines, etc.

The society is strange and strained; it turns out that Xhea (our heroine) is the one who is going to push society off the cliff. Though much of that appears to be the result of cross-cutting manipulation from various players…

It’s an interesting world, and the exploration rarely feels like a travelogue. Xhea has a history and is known throughout the city for old deeds, which makes it feel authentic.

The heart of the story is about friendship. It’s nice to see how strongly friendship affects Xhea (and her friend Shai), how committed they both are to doing right… to each other, and the others with a claim on them. The tower intrigues are largely off stage, but there are strong hints that they make sense if you’re in the right circles…

Long story short, the story and friendships worked. The world is altered now, and it looks like Xhea is a player. I’m interested in seeing what the next book brings…