Usually, when someone says a book is a fun read, I don't take much notice of the title. I like my books to be funny and exhilarating with a theme that keeps me picking apart the meaning of the story well after I've finished it.
Violet Wings turned out to be those things on top of being fun. Fun to read and fun to think about. The descriptions of faeries and genies being two genders of the same species and the different amounts of magic assigned to each.
In Zaria's Feyland, each faerie or genie has innate magic that gives them a level, much like in a video game, from 1 to 100. They also have a limited amount of "radia," which must be spent in order to cast spells. Radia amounts come in six divisions, each with a different color (lowest to highest): Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Violet.
This is where that theme I was talking about comes in. In Feyland, there is a lot of elitism among faeries and genies with higher amounts of radia who look down upon those with lesser amount. So that means there is tension between faeries and genies who are, yes you've got it, different colors.
"Obviously, not all fairies and genies are equal. In fact, the differences in our levels of magic and reserves of radia make us quite unequal."
I got goosebumps when I read that.
The racial/class tension isn't in your face. Victoria slips it in smoothly, yet I think it is an enormously important issue that I applaud her and her characters for fighting to be friends despite being ordered not to associate with those vastly different in color.
So back to the fun.
Victoria doesn't hold back with great names for her characters like Zaria, Magistria, Meteor, and Wolframite, which all added to the magic of being in Feyland. There are also a lot of character types I wouldn't expect in a middle grade novel such as a gambling genie who will be your friend at a high price.
I was happy to see a lack of romantic plot is this book. There are some hints as to who Zaria has feelings for, but no subplot tacked on while she is worrying about far more important things like her missing family and an evil faerie.
Each chapter is preceded by an except from a book by Orville Gold, genie historian of Feyland, and it really builds suspense because the excerpts hint at what is coming next in the story.
The prose is less eloquent than I prefer, but Victoria does have some lovely passages, including those about seeing trees in person for the first time after living life in Feyland where trees cannot grow.
While some secondary characters seem underdeveloped and interchangeable, Victoria still does a good job of giving everyone their own quirks. I also noticed a distinct difference between the way humans and faeries/genies speak, both very believable and interesting.
The tone of the book reminded me of Artemis Fowl, so if you like him, you might like this.
I'm looking forward to a sequel!