Book Review: Rosemary Edghill & Mercedes Lackey’s Arcanum 101

Posted February 7, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Young Adult readers

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Rosemary Edghill & Mercedes Lackey’s Arcanum 101

Arcanum 101


Mercedes Lackey, Rosemary Edghill

It is part of the Elves on the Road series and is a urban fantasy in eBook edition that was published by RosettaBooks on January 9, 2012 and has 195 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books in this series include Bedlam's Edge, Born to Run, Wheels of Fire, When the Bough Breaks, Silence

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Unnatural Issue, "The River's Gift", Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar, Foundation, Intrigues, Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit, Owlknight, Charmed Destinies, Changes, Beauty and the Werewolf, Invasion, Home From the Sea, Dead Reckoning, Conspiracies, Bedlam's Edge, Crown of Vengeance, Redoubt, Harvest Moon, World Divided, Elemental Magic: All New Tales of the Elemental Masters, Sacrifices, Steadfast, Burdens of the Dead, Bastion, Victories, Blood Red, The House of the Four Winds, Games Creatures Play, Closer to Home, Born to Run, Wheels of Fire, When the Bough Breaks, Chrome Circle, Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, A Tangled Web, Winter Moon, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar, Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, From a High Tower, Hunter, Closer to the Heart, Silence, A Study in Sable, Elite, Closer to the Chest, Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar, A Scandal in Battersea

An urban fantasy for young adults and focusing on Tomas Torres. There is another “Arcanum 101” by Mercedes Lackey in her Diana Tregarde series, and it appears to be a different story from this one.

My Take

This took an unexpected twist with an Hispanic family leaping into magic. Nothing unusual in it, just unusual for Lackey/Edghill.

How is working for Prestamo any different from working for the drug dealers or being in a gang? And how could he be so stupid as to not use care? I’d also like to know how the cops knew he’d be going to the bridal shoppe.

I am rather surprised that Mama is so intolerant about her children being gifted.

I do love how VeeVee introduces Tomas to the school. And it’s so much fun to see all Tomas’ expectations of the school get debunked. It’s exactly what kids need. No judgements. No lies. An atmosphere in which to flourish in the arenas which interest them. I also like that not everything gets handed to them. They have to earn certain privileges. AND the school is determined to graduate kids who get jobs in fields they love. No one will “starve in a fast-food or mega-mart job”. Oh, wow, these classes, even the “bonehead vocational classes” are a dream come true. There are a few I’d love!

They do each get a laptop with access to the Internet, that Student Union is to die for!, and the auto shop…whoa… They have school dances with music provided by student bands, but no one is forced to go. They have field trips — some normal and some not so normal. The not-so-normal trips are the learning experiences.

Poor Tomas. He’s skated along in all his classes previously. Here the classes are too small for him to go unnoticed, and he’ll actually have to do the work if he wants access to the auto shop in his off hours.

There are some fun challenges as well as some scary ones. VeeVee lays down a challenge on the dance floor that Tomas picks up. There are also monster hunts where Tomas learns that this school is for real. The more mundane conflict is that field trip date that VeeVee has to pass on and can’t tell Tomas. Talk about misunderstandings!

I suspect it’s the field trip Underhill that lays to rest Tomas’ skepticism about magic. It’s certainly a shocker when Lord Moonlight appears without illusion!

The Story

So much for the American dream for the Torreses. There’s no work for Mamacita in El Paso, and while she can find laborer jobs in New York City, it’s not enough to do more than barely survive in this expensive city.

It’s that robbery at the bodega that Tomas discovers what he can do. It’s a way to make money. To help Mama.

For that, Tomas is willing to forego his promise to himself, to get entangled in criminal enterprises. Only, for such an intelligent boy, he’s not too bright.

The challenge at St. Rhiannon’s will be to ensure this boy with his pyrokinetic powers chooses the side of right.

The Characters

Papi Torres left them, and it’s Mamacita (Consuelo Torres) who is trying to support Tomas, who is very good with cars, and Rosalita (she talks to her invisible friends) in New York City with a useless education degree from the University of Mexico. Carmelita is Mama’s cousin who sent the bus tickets.

Valeria Victrix “VeeVee” Langenfeld is a Fire Witch, skilled in combat magic and a techno-shaman with a secret passion for sewing. She’ll be Tomas’ mentor at the school. One of her ambitions is to be made a Knight-Mage Underhill and a Guardian like her parents: a Finnish Witch (Moira) who can whistle up storms and a father who is an hereditary German vampire hunter descended from the Van Helsings.

St. Rhiannon’s School in upstate New York is…
…a boarding school for gifted children: M-tracks are magicians whose power comes from magic while P-tracks are kids with psionic powers which come from the mind. The teachers include Eric Banyon who is a bard from the Bedlam’s Bard urban fantasy series and part of the overall Elves on the Road series. He’s also Sieur Eric, Bard of Elfhame Misthold and liegeman to Prince Arvin. Hosea Songmaker also teaches music; Jeanette is his possessed banjo. Inigo Moonlight is the headmaster, a 1,000+-year-old Magus Major elf, a.k.a., Lord Moonlight. Grace Fairchild and Tucker Bell are his assistants and do most of the work. Sarah Clifford is the school counselor with a passion for Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries (oh, yeah!). The school founder is a half-Elven Mage and a multi-billionaire, Ria Llewellyn. She’s a bit handicapped due to who her father was, Prince Perenor, an Unseleighe Prince who almost destroyed Elfhame Sun-Descending. Doctor Carter and Nurse Irene live at the Infirmary. Daniel Bishop, a psychometrist, trains the psionic students and teaches History. Mr. Balinsky teaches English. Ms. Bosworth teaches Bio and Chem. Kayla Smith is a healer who teaches advanced Computer Science. Mari Morales is the librarian. Ms. Mallozzi teaches algebra.

Dottie Davies (she’s a character in the SERRAted Edge series) is the mechanic teaching Auto Shop. Tomas’ fellow students will include Aaron Clark, Brian Walker is a water witch, and Destiny is an artificer.

Some of the students include Chris Shackleford, a precog, is the residential assistant with a Goth bedroom. Johnny Devlin can do apportation, Annabelle Young calls storms, Sarita and Kurt Richards heal, Lalage Chisholm is a witch who can talk to plants and has an eye for Tomas, Kenny Chandler can do telekinesis, Gordy Riley is a telepath, Aimee King is a sensitive, Tyler, Ethan Harris is an astral warrior, Megan Bennett, Jamilla Adams, Destiny Campbell, Chloe Howard has bardic gifts, Nina, Vanh, and Gareth Moore is an OCD mage and dating Lauren.

Nierin ap Bedwyr is an elf VeeVee knows. Aaron is Kurt’s normal little brother.

LlewellCo is…
…an alliance between Ria Llewellyn and Eric, a small group of Guardians, and mages allied with the Elfhames to monitor for problems.

In New York City
Mr. de La Yedra owns the corner bodega. Tiburon Prestamo is el padrone, a man you do not disrespect. Jorge is one of his enforcers. Ms. Lyons is the Family Court judge. Mrs. Rodriquez is one of Tomas’ victims. Linda Kenyon is from the DA’s office and a Guardian. Marty Mitchell is the public defender. Mr. Blaylock is Tomas’ probation officer.

The Guardians are a loose organization of Talented and Gifted chosen to stand between the Mundanes and things that go bump (or boom!) in the night. They are the elite of Mages, required to protect and defend. A Magus Major is one of the most powerful magicians the elves produce.

Underhill is a series of Domains powerful elves carve out of the Chaos Lands with each anchored by Gates and a Node Grove. Low Court elves are tied to their Node Grove or they’ve been sealed into a Domain. High Court elves are Dark or Bright, Unseleighe or Seleighe.

The bad guys include Shadow Warriors, vampires, nightflyers, a revenant,and a Trollking.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a black background with a boy’s head haloed with a corona of heat. The truly hot is the ball of flames he’s holding in the hand he’s thrusting at us. The oranges, yellows, and reds are also reflected in the title and the authors’ names.

The title is a blend of the magic and class basics, for Tomas is heading for Arcanum 101.