Title: League of Liars
Author: Astrid Scholte
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Mystery
Published: February 22nd, 2022 (G.P. Putnam’s Sons BYR)
Synopsis: Ever since his mother was killed, seventeen-year-old Cayder Broduck has had one goal – to see illegal users of magic brought to justice. People who carelessly use extradimensional magic for their own self-interest, without a care to the damage it does to society or those around them, deserve the worst kind of punishment as far as Cayder is concerned. Because magic always has a price. So when Cayder lands a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apprentice under a premier public defender, he takes it. If he can learn all the tricks of public defense, the better he’ll be able to dismantle defense arguments when he’s a prosecutor. Then he’ll finally be able to punish the guilty without mercy.
But when he meets the three criminals he’s supposed to defend, it no longer seems so black and white. They’re teenagers, like him, and their stories are…complicated, like his. Vardean, the prison where Cayder’s new clients are incarcerated, also happens to be at the very heart of the horrible tear in the veil between their world and another dimension – where all magic comes from.
League of Liars is a dark and twisty mystery set in a richly-drawn world where nothing is as it seems, rife with magic, villains and danger.
Thank you to the publisher, Penguin Teen Canada, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The use of edem, extradimensional magic that can be found only in the shadows, is illegal in the land of Telene. Ever since his mother was killed as a result of someone wielding edem, Cayder Broduck has always wanted to bring criminals responsible for such occurrences to justice. When he gets a summer internship with a public defender, he is excited to finally learn the tricks of the trade that will help him in his ultimate goal to become a prosecutor. He is initially not all that interested in what justification for their actions the criminals he is supposed to defend may have, but when three prisoners arrested in high profile crimes with equally mysterious stories show up, things are no longer as cut and dry as he has always viewed these cases – especially not when one of them is his own sister Leta. While their stories initially appear unrelated, as Cayder desperately delves into the accusations made against Leta, it becomes clear that these cases are linked with a much larger conspiracy in play.
This is the third book by this author I’ve read so far, and I was very intrigued by this premise since it’s something I’ve never come across in YA before. The story is a mix of courtroom drama, a heist and a jailbreak which gives it the feel of a fantasy novel and thriller all rolled into one. While it takes its time setting up the world and moving the characters into play, this had me glued to my seat right from page one because I just had to know what would happen next. The magic system was an interesting one, being able to pull edem from the shadows that can be used to wish for things to happen, but the side effects are unpredictable and it could lead to bystanders getting injured or worse. I really enjoyed the world-building, though I do wish there had been more information about the places beyond Telene if only to give us a better context for the story. I wouldn’t say no to a map either. The plot twists were well executed, and though I was able to figure out who was behind everything reasonably soon, the motives were harder to guess, and that made this quite the riveting read.
With so many things going on plot wise, I felt like the character development suffered for it. Despite having four POVs, I only got a good understanding of Cayder’s character and the other three didn’t feel like they had much depth at all. That said, I liked the somewhat non-linear narration style of this book, though it isn’t obvious until later. Much of the characters’ backstories are told through flashbacks which was a great touch. There wasn’t really much romance in this story and I think it was a good choice because there’s enough going on and adding it in would have lent an awkward feel to the subplot, especially given the rather minimal character development.
The pacing was a little on the slower side, which was ok through the courtroom scenes, but it didn’t pick up until nearly the last quarter of the book when the action begins and it felt like it came out of nowhere and the last chapters were very rushed. The heist and jailbreak portions definitely did not feel as well planned as the first parts of the story either.
This isn’t listed as a series, so I kept waiting for the pieces to come together, only to run into that very abrupt ending. I certainly hope there is a sequel because there’s plenty of story left to tell and many threads to tie up. Overall however, this was a fun read and a wonderful concept for a story, and I would definitely recommend it.
League of Liars releases on February 22nd, 2022.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!