It’s been over four years since Maya Motayne’s debut novel Nocturna arrived on the fantasy scene, marking the start of a magical adventure series that brought with it high stakes, sweeping romance and an immersive world to get lost in from the very first page. In Lucero, Finn and Alfie’s story finally reaches its bittersweet ending, but not before Motayne puts together one final, action-packed narrative that ensures the Forgery of Magic series ends on the highest of notes.
Picking up in the immediate aftermath of 2019’s Oculta, Lucero opens on a world that’s been thrown into chaos after Sombra’s return destroyed the balance between the light and the dark. As Sombra’s shadows start to take over the population, turning them all into monstrous versions of themselves driven only by their darkest impulses, and the world begins to wither, decay and crumble around them, Finn and Alfie must band together one last time to save the entire world.
Tasked with finding the stone relics of Sombra’s body before the God can unite the pieces to regain his full strength, the Prince and the thief set out on their most dangerous quest yet. Finn and Alfie are the only ones who stand a chance of defeating Sombra before it’s too late, but faced with a world where the laws of magic no longer apply and new horrors await at every turn, the stakes are higher than ever. In their final stand, it’s down to Finn and Alfie to fulfil their destiny and restore balance to their world before the darkness takes over completely.
Finn swallowed. She was living in a myth – and not one of the fun ones.”
Lucero is a novel that doesn’t let up for a second, throwing you right back into the action from the very first page and following every last plot thread through to its conclusion no matter how brutal, heartbreaking or emotional those endings are. It’s a whirlwind of an opening, and a bit of an initially confusing one too as you’re re-introduced to the characters, their magic and the events that have led us to this point at breakneck speed. But it’s also a clear sign of what this novel has in store as it delivers its heart-stopping action and establishes its very real consequences with ease.
It’s not a seamless narrative; Lucero relies heavily on some exposition info-dumps, particularly in the earlier chapters as the story fights to catch readers up quickly and establish a new normal, all while pushing the story forwards and outlining the situation in which the characters have now found themselves. It’s a heavy mix of action and exposition, and it’s not until the stage is completely set and the characters embark on their new missions that the story truly finds its feet to become the rich, immersive world that we were first introduced to back in Nocturna, and which was continued so effortlessly in Oculta. From that moment on, however, there is no stopping this novel.
It’s driven, of course, by Finn and Alfie themselves, who embark on this quest while still navigating the feelings of grief, love and responsibility that they began to unravel in book one. Through both of their journeys, Finn and Alfie are forced to confront their grief, their losses and their feelings for one another, as well as the insecurities and fears that are holding them back. Their individual narratives are just as important as the overarching plot as a whole and, after two books of build-up, Motayne rightfully gives each character and their joint romantic story the full attention they deserve here too. In fact, even some of the more peripheral characters are given the time and space to reflect on their own journeys too, with the novel adding in new character perspectives to expand the world, drive the action forward and give the characters more time for internal reflection too.
Compared to the first two books, Lucero is more mythic in scope, focusing on gods and prophecies and destiny and twisting the rules of magic in the world that we thought we knew. A shaky start doesn’t detract from the fact that Lucerois ultimately a near pitch-perfect fantasy novel that brings together epic quests, monstrous stakes and dark twists in a fast-paced, emotionally-driven narrative that doesn’t shy away from exploring the very human emotions of the characters caught up in this storyline.
The Forgery of Magic series is a fantasy trilogy that feels like it’s largely flown under the radar in the years since it was first published, but Lucero’s release has officially cemented this series as one that’s definitely worth making time for. As a fantasy novel, it’s a thrilling one in and of itself, but as the final book in a fantasy trilogy, this novel offers a brilliant send-off to these characters and their journey, delivering an emotional and dramatic story with a heartening, bittersweet ending that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.
Lucero was published by Hodderscape on 26 December 2023