Literature: Chroniclesof Magic
The Sixth ChildChronicles of Magic: The Sixth Child
is the first book in a YA fantasy series Chronicles of Magic
by Maine author Faith E. Worster. It follows some of the usual tropes— a prophecy of doom, a Chosen One, and an evil queen— but nicely ties them together with a colorful, well-developed cast and a few surprising twists.
Benjamin is a weak, timid boy and the son of the equally weak, timid town baker. When his father is taken by the queen's soldiers, Ben musters what little courage he has and goes after him... without a weapon or a plan. Naturally concerned, his friends Rowan (an eccentric aristocrat) and Halfrida (a disturbed girl whose entire family was gunned down by the soldiers a few months before the story proper) go after him, having their own adventures on the way. There's also a group of fanatical rebels, a secret plot, and magic— only Magic is an actual, living being who imparts its power unto those who believe in it. Due to the queen's family stomping out any knowledge of it, however, most people don't— and those who do are either imprisoned or killed... brutally.
Written with a dark and dry humor from multiple characters' perspectives, it quickly pulls the reader into the action and operates under an Anyone Can Die mentality that leaves you guessing until the very end.
This series contains examples of the following tropes
- Action Girl: Skeeter and Anri
- Anti-Hero: Skeeter is this and the Pragmatic Hero. While she does want to save lives and change the world for the better, she isn't afraid to do it the dirty way.
- Bishōnen: The soldiers call Rowan "pretty-boy" and "blondie", and his hair is described as long.
- Blood Knight: Skeeter Traps may be a cute, ten year-old girl, but that doesn't keep her from enjoying every single instant she's allowed to fight in battle.
- Break the Cutie: Halfrida in spades. First her entire family is killed in front of her, then she finds out it was because of her.
- Born Unlucky: How Halfrida feels about herself... and she's pretty much proven right.
- Broken Bird: Halfrida could be defined by this trope. Also Skeeter, Rowan, and Benjamin to a certain degree.
- Brown Eyes: Benjamin is the only major character to have hazel-brown eyes, a trait he got from his mother. They are several times described as being part of his overall plain appearance.
- Bruiser with a Soft Center: Skeeter may be a little girl, but she is also the character most willing to pick fights and kick butt. However, she risks her life for complete strangers and cries when she thinks that Benjamin is dead.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Benjamin suffers from this affliction, and the results tend to cause problems for both himself and others.
- Comically Serious: Tobias has shades of this. A former soldier, he is older than most of the main cast and has had limited experience with children. Plus, he's just naturally stodgy.
- Cowardly Lion: Benjamin starts out as this in the beginning; but his inner bravery shines through when he puts his life at risk again and again not only for those he loves, but for those he's just met.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Benjamin is a naturally timid, naive boy who can barely read or spell— and he certainly has never fought before. However, when the chips are down, he can surprise everyone.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Halfrida, Skeeter, and most everybody else in one way or another. However, Halfrida has had it the worst: her entire family was executed by soldiers in their own home, and Halfrida was the only one left alive. The incident left her mute for over a month and forever changed her personality. She also seems to suffer from fairly severe PTSD.
- Death Seeker: Halfrida flip-flops between this and Primal Fear of death.
- Deadpan Snarker: Tobias and Skeeter especially, but Halfrida and Rowan also have their moments.
- Dysfunction Junction: Pretty much every character has at least one significant personality flaw that leads to life-threatening problems for the other characters. Just about every character also has a tragic or troubling past— justified, in that they are ruled over by a blood-thirsty child-queen who enjoys tormenting people For The Evulz.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Queen Cinder has pale skin, dark hair, and piercing gray eyes.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The people of Fa (Falians) are dark-skinned, white-haired people whose culture resembles ancient Japan.
- Gray Eyes: Tobias is an example of the spiritual gray eyes, while Queen Cinder is an example of the cold, unapproachable gray eyes.
- Green Eyes: Halfrida's green eyes are brought up several times in the story, and serve to link her with another character. Also, Arissa is known for her odd, cat-like, yellow-green eyes.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Queen Cinder in spades and then some. A fourteen year old girl raised to kill her own subjects without remorse or respect. She is also a competent The Chessmaster who enjoys toying with people's minds.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Downplayed. Halfrida is known for her beautiful golden hair, but she is one of the darker, more troubled members of the cast. Rowan plays it straight.
- Heroic BSOD: Benjamin gets one of these several times.
- Hired for Their Looks: Anri (a beautiful spy) briefly experiences a pang of resentment over this, but quickly gets over it and goes on with her job.
- Hot Consort: What Anri was before she became a spy and what Cinder seems to secretly want Matthias to be.
- Icy Blue Eyes: Matthias Panthera has these, and a cold personality to match.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: When Halfrida is singled out as the prophesied "Sixth Child" she wants absolutely nothing to do with it.
- Inhumanly Beautiful Race: The Falians are mentioned as being known for their beauty, so much so that the men of Castria practically trip over themselves gawking at Anri.
- Innocent Blue Eyes: Strangely enough, Rowan (a twenty-something year-old man) has these, along with golden hair. His personality matches, as he is innocent and naive compared even to the younger characters. Averted with Skeeter, who has dark blue eyes and a far more cynical personality.
- It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: How Halfrida sees her supposed calling.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Several characters but most notably Skeeter, who shows she cares by punching, kicking, or berating you.
- Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: Queen Cinder can fight rather impressively for someone in a pimped-out dress. Averted with Anri, who strips out of her finery to kick butt.
- Kid Hero: Benjamin starts out a naive, timid boy, but ends up not only saving his father and friends, but becoming the Chosen One and the High King.
- Little Miss Badass: Skeeter again. She's a ten year-old girl who is trained to spy, shoot, fight in hand-to-hand combat, and (of course) kill.
- Little Miss Snarker: Skeeter's proficiency in violence is rivaled only by her proficiency in sarcasm.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Rowan. He's even called "pretty boy" and "blondie" by the soldiers.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Despite not being an "official" couple, Skeeter and Benjamin certainly qualify as this. Skeeter is loud, masculine, and violent while Ben is soft-spoken, gentle, and (in Skeeter's opinion) girly.
- Modest Royalty: Benjamin in the end.
- No Guy Wants an Amazon: Benjamin with Skeeter at first.
- Obliviously Beautiful: Despite being the character whose beauty is commented on the most, Halfrida gives no thought to her features at all. Justified in that she is still the town outcast whose family just got slaughtered a while ago.
- Perpetual Frowner: Skeeter is a ten year-old version of this.
- Pimped-Out Dress: Queen Cinder loves these. Hers, however, are generally black and studded with metal.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: Near the end, Benjamin sees Skeeter in a dress with her hair brushed and plaited. He thinks that she looks nice, but that her mother must have forced her into it.
- Ship Tease: During their own private POV moments, Benjamin and Skeeter each think of the odd feelings that they get for one another. Benjamin seems to come closer to realizing it, while Skeeter is in constant denial.
- Slasher Smile: Skeeter is often said to be sporting a large and demented grin, particularly when she's holding a weapon.
- Standard Fantasy Setting: Somewhat. It's in a European-based, alternate world and features magic, but there are no elves, dwarves, trolls, etc. Also, Magic is a living being also known as The Great Spirit, who imparts its power on those who believe in it.
- Stepford Smiler: Rowan is a Type A (depressed) but he hides it beneath a thin veneer of cheeriness that eventually crumbles.
- Stepford Snarker: What Skeeter seems to be at times. Ben notes that when she's not snarking, he sometimes sees fear or sorrow in her eyes.
- Tender Tears: Rowan is known for crying easily. Halfrida even feels responsible for making him cry several times, and finds it strange that she (as a young girl) is worried about a grown man crying over her.
- The High King: What Benjamin becomes in the end.
- The Lad-ette: Skeeter comes off as a child-version of this, for reasons mentioned above. Along with her tomboyish attitude, she has an irreverent sense of humor and enjoys teasing and bullying Benjamin.
- Tomboy: Skeeter enjoys fighting, shooting, and collecting weapons; she is also more like a boy than the main character— who is one.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Pretty much all the cast. Halfrida is a traumatized girl who dreams of killing soldiers in vengeance for her family's execution, Skeeter is a ten year old who can murder men three times her size, and the evil queen of the book is only fourteen years old. She not only takes pleasure in torturing and executing her people, but has become so paranoid of being overthrown that she has developed stomach problems which keep her from eating.
- Tsundere: Skeeter Traps is a classic Type A tsundere: violent, hot-tempered, and in utter denial about her feelings for the boy she loves. Still, she is a ten year-old girl raised by rebels and spies, so perhaps she can be given a break.
- Unkempt Beauty: It is noted that, even mud-caked and bedraggled, Halfrida is still lovely to look at.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Halfrida is remembered as being a sweet, friendly girl prior to the day her family was executed by soldiers. Now she suffers from severe PTSD and emotional issues that make her come off as unstable and often frightening to others.
- Villainous BSOD: Queen Cinder near the end, when Benjamin is resurrected.
- When She Smiles: Skeeter tends to either be frowning or sporting a psychotic Slasher Smile most of the time, so when she smiles for real it comes as a major shock to Benjamin and anybody else who knows her.