Monday, October 24, 2022

Academy Arcanist by Shami Stovall - Book Tour & Review + Giveaway

Academy Arcanist

by Shami Stovall


GENRE: YA Fantasy



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…





The world was filled with all kinds of mystical creatures—some that could invade the dreams of others. But my father was right. Our Isle of Haylin only had two mystical species. The unicorns who roamed the southern field were beautiful when they trotted across the green grass, their ivory coats glittering in the island sunshine. They were immune to poison and known for their speed. 

But unicorns didn’t have any magical abilities to walk through dreams.  

And the hippogriffs—who were half horse, half eagle—roosted on the peak of Haylin Mountain, watching over our small port city. Their golden feathers and sharp talons were the pride of the island. Hippogriffs could manipulate the wind and were sturdy beasts who navigated the skies with magically enhanced senses.

But just like unicorns, hippogriffs weren’t the type of creatures who entered the dreams of others.

“What if the beasts in my dreams are mystical creatures who came to the island?” I asked, scooting to the edge of my rickety bed. “Maybe they’re dream creatures who’re walking into my dreams because they want to hurt me specifically.”

My father narrowed his eyes, the dark rings under them noticeable even in the dim lantern light. 

“You’re saying powerful mystical creatures came to the island to hunt the son of the local candlemaker?” He spoke every word with a healthy amount of sarcasm. “Thirteen-year-old boys must be in short supply on the mainland.”

“I’m being serious.”

“Oh, wait. I just remembered something…” All emotion drained from my father as he stared at me. “An ancient prophecy about our island said a young boy with the name of a color would be destined for greatness and hunted by great evil.”

I held my breath for a long moment. Then I whispered, “Really?” 

All his sarcasm returned as he frowned. “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course not. The Isle of Haylin has no prophecies. We’re lucky if we get anything other than storms.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My Review

*This review is courtesy of my husband* **Potential spoilers ahead**

Academy Arcanist by Shami Stovall is a brilliant start to another series set in the world of Arcanists, Mystical Creatures known as Eldrin, and Magic. This is one of those books where you tell yourself, “Just one more chapter,” and end up reading 100 pages or more, late into the night. But it is not without flaws, some of which come from being the second series set in this world after The Frith Chronicles. Because of this, it is impossible to do a review without comparing and contrasting it to that previous series.

The story is about a young boy, Gray, who finds himself attacked in his dreams. Any injury he gets while sleeping, appears on his body upon awakening. A woman enters his dream and fights off the monsters and for the next two years protects him while he sleeps. She tells him she is a teacher at the Astra Academy and invites him to join, so long as upon reaching his 15th birthday, he bonds with a magical creature, becoming an Arcanist, and being granted the magical abilities of the creature. A task he sets out on doing. Once arriving at the school, he is surprised that this woman acts differently towards him and barely seems to remember their shared dreams. He comes to the conclusion that she is an imposter and works on solving the mystery of what happened to her. The Academy setting works really well as a way of explaining to the reader the ins and outs of this magical world.

The Good: The internal flow of this book is wonderful. It is an easy and engaging read, the perfect book for young teenagers who may just be getting into reading. After a slightly slow start of just the first few chapters, the book picks up the pace and keeps barreling forward until the end.

The characters are fun and realistic. Gray is extremely relatable albeit a bit prickly; but his twin brother Sorin is the type of brother everyone would want: kind, caring, and optimistic. The 7 other students in Gray’s class at the academy all bring unique and varied personalities to the table. And since all of them are Arcanists, they have magical talking creatures, who each also have their own distinct personalities. Nini stands out as being the most interesting. A small, demure girl, who wears big clothes that she can hide in, bonds to a Reaper, a creature of death and suffering. This is only possible because in order to bond to a Reaper, one must be responsible for killing another human being. The dichotomy of the character, and what the reader knows about her from this bonding, is played off well in the story. Also, Gray’s Eldrin, the Mimic, Twain, is an adorable, magical kitten who can shapeshift into any other creature in his vicinity. The variety of mystical creatures in the first book alone, seems to suggest many more interesting things to come from future installments.

The Minor Flaws: While it is definitely not required to read all or any of the books in the Frith Chronicles to enjoy and understand Academy Arcanist, the explanations at times are a little light. Having read these other books, it was more than enough to understand, but I imagine it might be a bit confusing for a new reader. For instance, the explanation of what Evocation, Augmentation, and Manipulation are in the Frith Chronicles is significantly more in depth than the same explanation in this book.

And opposite to this problem, in some ways reading the Frith Chronicles lessons this book. For instance, in the final chapters of the book we learn that the main bad guy is actually a professor at the Academy who is secretly working towards evil ends to selfishly reunite with his brother no matter the cost. This is similar to the bad guy in Knightmare Arcanist who is actually a leader of the Frith Guild who is discovered near the end of the book to be secretly working towards evil ends to selfishly resurrect his wife no matter the cost. Also, the two main characters bond with a Mimic and a Knightmare, and a Rizzle factors in as an important Eldrin as well. These three Eldrin are probably the most central Eldrin of the Frith Chronical Stories as well. At least before the God Creatures are introduced. While I like these Eldrin, it does feel a little too similar at times.

And lastly, with at least one book still left to be published in the Frith Chronicles story, this book reveals the fate of one central character. Fain, the Wendigo arcanist, is working as the personal bodyguard to the Headmaster at the Astra Academy. And since this book is set decades in the future at least, we now know Fain will come to no lasting harm by the conclusion of the story. Which I am happy about, but it also reduces the tension for when I read Grandmaster Arcanist.

Overall, this story gets at least a 4.5 out of 5 for it’s unique and interesting world building, its wonderful characters, and its endless possibility. Who knows what the future holds for Astra Academy Book 2, Mimic Arcanist, and beyond, but I will be excited to pick them up and devour them. These Arcanist stories have long solidified the number 1 spot of most anticipated books to read.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

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, or hugging John. 

If you want to contact her, you can do so at the following locations:







Shami Stovall will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner

via rafflecopter during the tour.

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  1. Thank you for sharing this review of Academy Arcanist, this sounds like an epic read and I am looking forward to it

  2. I enjoyed the excerpt and Academy Arcanist sounds like a fantastic read and I like the cover!

    Thanks, Jazzy, for sharing your review!

    Have a splendid day!


Please try not to spam posts with the same comments over and over again. Authors like seeing thoughtful comments about their books, not the same old, "I like the cover" or "sounds good" comments. While that is nice, putting some real thought and effort in is appreciated. Thank you.