The Electric Heir features two people’s perspectives in the aftermath of a successful coup by their mentor, someone who is not who he seems. One who knows firsthand what what his mentor is capable of. Another who has forgotten. The Electric Heir is a gripping conclusion filled with politics, military strategy, magic, and mind-games.
Thank you for Fantastic Flying Book Club for allowing me to be a part of this blog tour! Check out my review and some of my favorite quotes for The Electric Heir.
Title: The Electric Heir
Author: Victoria Lee
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
I received a finished copy from Skyscape in exchange for an honest review.
Six months after Noam Álvaro helped overthrow the despotic government of Carolinia, the Atlantians have gained citizenship, and Lehrer is chancellor. But despite Lehrer’s image as a progressive humanitarian leader, Noam has finally remembered the truth that Lehrer forced him to forget—that Lehrer is responsible for the deadly magic infection that ravaged Carolinia.
Now that Noam remembers the full extent of Lehrer’s crimes, he’s determined to use his influence with Lehrer to bring him down for good. If Lehrer realizes Noam has evaded his control—and that Noam is plotting against him—Noam’s dead. So he must keep playing the role of Lehrer’s protégé until he can steal enough vaccine to stop the virus.
Meanwhile Dara Shirazi returns to Carolinia, his magic stripped by the same vaccine that saved his life. But Dara’s attempts to ally himself with Noam prove that their methods for defeating Lehrer are violently misaligned. Dara fears Noam has only gotten himself more deeply entangled in Lehrer’s web. Sooner or later, playing double agent might cost Noam his life.
Trigger warnings: (mention of) sexual abuse, abusive relationship, domestic violence, general violence, death, PTSD,
Disclaimer: there will be spoilers for The Fever King.
The Electric Heir continues six months after The Fever King left off, with Noam at Lehrer’s side after sending a fever-mad Dara into the quarantined zone and forgetting Lehrer’s the true nature. Noam thinks Dara is dead. He isn’t, and he’s back in Carolinia to end Lehrer once and for all.
One of the aspects I love the most about the Feverwake duology is that it is simultaneously two genres, whose combination made for a fascinating world-world-building. There’s magic (fantasy) and dystopian/ scientific elements (sci-fy). Acquired magical skills are explained in a scientific manner, but even so, Lee makes sure that we don’t forget it’s still magic. Still, the dystopian elements like government-run camps for witchings (magic-wielders) and alternative future history plant it very much in the sci-fy arena. While we primarily only see Carolinia and the quarantined zone, the world-building is so thorough that it’s easily to imagine Texas or York.
The Electric Heir also discusses immigration problems, xenophobia, and genocide. it serves as both a commentary with how unfair current policies are as well as humanizes this marginalized community. This duology is particularly timely with the COVID-19 pandemic. Xenophobia is rampant against Asians, much like Carolinians discriminated against Atlantians. I feel it necessary to discuss this because fiction is most often a reflection of our world. This book may be taking place over a hundred years in the future but we’re seeing this type behavior now. Let us show more empathy and compassion, because I certainly don’t want this kind of future.
In the 2010s (within the Feverwake universe), the U.S. persecuted witchings. Witchings were tested on through cruel and unusual means against their will. With Noam and Lehrer being Jewish, it’s easy to make the connection to the Holocaust. In the Fever King, we learned that Lehrer was motivated to take down the U.S. to create Carolinia, a witching state, in order to protect anyone from suffering the violence and torture he did while doctors ran tests on his powers. Lehrer was a victim. There is no denying that. Yet he became an abuser. By discussing this topic, Lee reminds us about the nuance people have. People can be good even as they are evil. They can be the hero as much as the villain.
So I probably did this backwards but now for the characters, who are at the heart of this story. They– Noam, Dara, Lehrer– are undeniably multi-faceted. Noam, despite everything he has been to, is still optimistic (and at times, idealistic). He is determined. He also has a bad case of the hero-complex that lands him in risky situations more often than not. Meanwhile, Dara is more realistic, worn down by his past. He is sarcastic and resourceful. He has a deep understanding of others, including their motives. They are both brilliant and talented witchings. They fight for the greater good. Yet there’s no denying they’re willing to do bad things.
Lehrer, on the other hand, is charismatic and a clever strategist. He is also manipulative and abusive. You will still hate Lehrer with all you have, but at times, you will find yourself feeling sympathy for who he used to be. These layers are what make him an effective villain.
Speaking of which… The Electric Heir explores more in-depth the topic of sexual abuse. While it was an underlying thread in Dara’s past– which affected much of his behavior and interactions with others– it is at the forefront of Noam’s present situation. Because make no mistake, even if Noam doesn’t initially put words to it, he was raped. Not only is there a significant power imbalance in their relationship, there is also a 107-year-difference between Noam and Lehrer, and Noam is still a minor. This is important to highlight because abuse shaped Dara and Noam, their actions, and relationships (both romantic and platonic). Throughout most of this book, they are both processing and trying to heal from trauma.
The Electric Heir is a though-provoking, feeling-inducing, and satisfying conclusion to the Feverwake duology. It is about fighting against an unjust system. It is about acknowledging how your past shaped you but not letting it define you. It is about wielding your power. It is a heavy book dealing with serious topics. It won’t be for everyone. But I don’t think you can read it without feeling like you want to do something about injustices like this. So please do it. Fight where you can.
- Tears didn’t make it any better, not to Dara anyway– who had lived like this with Lehrer for years, and not because he chose to.
- That was who Dara was: the too-powerful, too-brilliant prince of Carolinia.
- I swear, I never meant to… to hurt you, I just– I swear to God.
- Everything that happened now Noam had chosen. He had no one to blame but himself.
- It was the kind of idea Lehrer would have come up with. Always looking for the martial application of a given power. Always twisting magic to his own needs.
- Past that angry devil-may care façade, Noam Álvaro was… more.
- The boy in this mirror was steel and frost and a bloodied knife.
- … you’ll do whatever’s necessary to take back what you think is yours.
- You don’t need to understand him– you’re just like him..
- But last year he let Lehrer wield Noam’s anger as a weapon to seize power, and it was a mistake.
- Hating him doesn’t make him wrong. Hating him doesn’t make Texas right.
Victoria Lee grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent twelve ascetic years as a vegetarian before discovering spicy chicken wings are, in fact, a delicacy. She’s been a state finalist competitive pianist, a hitchhiker, a pizza connoisseur, an EMT, an expat in China and Sweden, and a science doctoral student. She’s also a bit of a snob about fancy whisky.
Victoria writes early in the morning, then spends the rest of the day trying to impress her border collie puppy and make her experiments work.
She is represented by Holly Root and Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary.
Click here to enter to win 1 copy of The Electric Heir by Victoria Lee. Open only to U.S. residents. This giveaway starts March 11 and ends March 25.