Out of a young woman’s ambition comes a love triangle that could destroy more than her heart.
Firia has always wanted to be a witch, but even though she’s a natural in magic, there’s a problem: She’s human.
Considered by the elven elite to be inferior, Firia needs an edge to be accepted into the Magic Academy. Out of sheer desperation, she summons the demon Varuj, a terrifyingly gorgeous spirit who helps her win the entrance competition. But at what price?
As the commanding demon does everything he can to penetrate every aspect of her innocent life, Firia still finds herself drawn to her study partner, Mae’lin. Not only is the sweet elf completely different from the powerful Varuj, but their relationship is forbidden.
How is she supposed to choose between the demon she owes her life to and the innocent elf who makes her a better person?
This thrilling new adult romance is from fantasy author, Jillian Keep.
*blurb taken from the author’s website
Jillian Keep is the pen name of the two people that make up the duo of J. M. Keep. I was first introduced to J. M. Keep’s works and really enjoyed them. They are pretty dark, twisted, and edgy with HEA’s that are not at all typical for the romance genre. Jillian Keep is the name that they are using for this book and for more longer, softer works. If this is what is considered soft, then yikes. This book gave me all kinds of complicated feelings. I hate love triangles, don’t really care for what is considered new adult, and do not really enjoy morally gray characters. And yet, I read this book knowing that all of this was going to happen.
Firia is a human in a world where elves are more superior. While they all go to classes together at least in the beginning, elves are automatically at the upper echelon. Humans often do not have much sway and will most likely be accused of a crime before an elf will. The class lines are pretty clear. Even the lowliest of elves would more than likely be considered to be better than the richest of humans. Firia wants to be better than them and make her own way in the world. Hungry to learn but with little actual magical experience, she needs help making it in to the magic academy.
Enter the thing that we know she should not do–summoning a demon to ask for help. Varuj promises her that he will take her all the way to the top and assist her in meeting those goals. He’ll assist her with her powers, be there for her, and always remain by her side.
Enter Mae’lin–the sweetest elf ever. He doesn’t treat Firia like other elves do and shows her a considerable kindness toward the beginning that made me adore him. All three of their lives intersect in the academy, for better or worse.
Firia was difficult for me to like. She was portrayed as being incredibly lonely due to her status as both a human and being poor. Her emotions were all over the place as she tried to figure out how to deal with Varuj, the trials to get in to the academy, and academy life itself. I didn’t think she was particularly thankful enough for the help that she received from the demon. She was always both wanting to pull him away and pull him closer, which I could understand, but after a while it did seem to be a little much. I didn’t really get to see her in her element, but it was really fascinating to see the changes within her. She went from a weepy hot mess to becoming more confident in at least her studies. She found herself both drawn to the demon and to Mae’lin, two men who were completely different but totally committed to Firia. I loved her ambition and desire to win at any cost, even as it made me cringe. It’s hard to put my finger on why I didn’t feel as though she had enough depth. Perhaps it is because there were so many other things that were happening in the book as well.
Mae’lin was one of my favorite characters. It was difficult to watch him constantly get the short end of the stick. He and Firia made a pact that they’d both study together and be partners in this new world that they found themselves in. I look forward (and please tell me book 2 is coming soon) to seeing him grow from his experiences even more.
Varuj is hands-down my favorite in this book. We spent a great deal of time not seeing him in parts of the book, and like Firia, I wondered if he were ever going to come back. He pulled something in the middle of the book that makes me wonder how Firia is going to react if she ever finds out. To me, it was absolutely unforgivable. I don’t know what game he is playing, how committed he truly is, and toward the end of the book, he went in a different direction than what I was expecting.
The love triangle is both awesome and awful. Who is she going to decide on? What will happen next? How can she love two very different men in different ways? Can’t they just get along and make a nice little menage? I want someone to make a decision and I can’t even tell you which team I am on.
I would consider this book to be darkly erotic. The sex scenes were smoking hot. There is a lot of dubious consent so be aware of that going in. While I enjoyed those scenes and felt as though they were definitely great in keeping the plot going, some of the word choice usage threw me out of the story. One such term is really archaic and it interrupted the flow for me.
While I get the feeling that this universe is a fantasy setting, there was phrasing in dialogue that made it seem more like urban fantasy. That also threw me out of the story at times as well.
My favorite aspect of the book was the world building. Jillian Keep has built a world full of humans and elves, magic and intrigue. They went in to great detail describing the types of magic being used, magical classes, how the university worked, and all kinds of other little things that made this a very cohesive realm. I always love reading descriptions and details of how things work in an alternate universe, and they did it without bogging the story down.
This story does not end with everything wrapped up in a neat and tidy bow. I have more questions than answers. With one character left to an uncertain fate and the upcoming year of even more classes, I need to know what will happen. Who will Firia choose? What game is Varuj playing? Can everyone find their version of a happily-ever-after? I certainly hope so!
So while love triangles, moral ambiguity, and new adult may not be my thing, somehow Jillian Keep has made me want more of this story, even if I am fearful and uncertain of how it is all going to turn out. With so much world building happening in this book, it’s my hope that next time we’ll have an of an opportunity to see Firia grow even more. I hope to see her show some real self-reliance and self-confidence that is not born from either Varuj or Mae’lin. With its dark, edgy, and sexy backdrop, I give Magic Academy a B.
*This book will be available on other electronic platforms after three months. I’m sorry for the inconvenience of that!