A Door in the Dark (Waxways #1) by Scott Reintgen #YA #fantasy #survival #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog

One of Us is Lying meets A Deadly Education in this fantasy thriller that follows six teenage wizards as they fight to make it home alive after a malfunctioning spell leaves them stranded in the wilderness.

Ren Monroe has spent four years proving she’s one of the best wizards in her generation. But top marks at Balmerick University will mean nothing if she fails to get recruited into one of the major houses. Enter Theo Brood. If being rich were a sin, he’d already be halfway to hell. After a failed and disastrous party trick, fate has the two of them crossing paths at the public waxway portal the day before holidays—Theo’s punishment is to travel home with the scholarship kids. Which doesn’t sit well with any of them.

A fight breaks out. In the chaos, the portal spell malfunctions. All six students are snatched from the safety of the school’s campus and set down in the middle of nowhere. And one of them is dead on arrival.

If anyone can get them through the punishing wilderness with limited magical reserves it’s Ren. She’s been in survival mode her entire life. But no magic could prepare her for the tangled secrets the rest of the group is harboring, or for what’s following them through the dark woods… 

I loved the way the prologue opens with the consequences of a spell gone wrong. That style of writing always makes me want to know how the characters got from point A to point B.

This story is many things – and I like that. It begins with students who are on the verge of graduation and are interviewing for jobs. Soon it turns into a kind of locked room murder, then a survival story, all set against a background of magic. Ren is a scholarship student at Balmerick University. She’s worked hard over the past four years and is now at the top of her class with exemplary grades – but she watches on the sidelines as mediocre students in her graduating class are placed in top houses while she still waits for her first interview. Ren may have the intelligence and talent, but when it comes to social interactions she tends to come across as superior – kind of a “know-it-all”.

On the last day of school before break, Ren, her best friend, two other scholarship students, and two students from wealthy houses board a travel portal. When a spell malfunctions, five of them are left stranded in the wilderness – and one of them is already dead. The remaining five distinctive characters then struggle to survive as they make their way home while trying to keep ahead of what’s chasing them. Not all of them make it. They’re not equipped with many supplies but can rely on their magic. I liked the magic system – each character has a limited amount. It’s very clear that it’s distributed unevenly between the upper and lower classes.

Ren wasn’t my favorite person throughout most of the story. She’s the kind of person you might roll your eyes at during class when she corrects other students. Throughout the story, she hints several times at a secret she carries. When the twist at the end reveals it, Ren immediately became a more intriguing character to me. I’m interested to see how this plays out in the sequel.

This is an exciting, tense read with an unusual blend of fantasy, a murder mystery, and survival story, and I’d recommend it to fans of those genres. The sequel is absolutely going on my list of anticipated reads.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

24 thoughts on “A Door in the Dark (Waxways #1) by Scott Reintgen #YA #fantasy #survival #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog

    1. The cover is beautiful – sure caught my attention. I liked how this one focused on their schooling at first, but then turned into a survival story. But they still had to rely on what they’d been taught. Thanks, Yesha!

      Liked by 1 person

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