Sandry hides from a smallpox epidemic in a cupboard--only to find that she's trapped inside. When her candle runs out, she is comforted by a glow in her embroidery.
Daja survives a shipwreck by willing a supply box toward her.
A petty thief, Briar is thrown in jail and tends to the moss he finds there.
Tris is tormented at school, but her bullies find themselves threatened by wild winds.
None of them have traditional forms of magic, but Niko Goldeneye believes they might have hidden powers. He hopes to teach them to harness their gifts, before their uncontrolled power leads to tragedy. But though the children are thrilled to be taught, they're wary of associating with each other.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. The characters' personalities come across in a ham-handed way, and their hidden fears and powers are hardly subtle. But I think that's mostly because this is YA for a younger crowd (under 15) than I'm used to. The magic is wonderfully described. No matter how exciting the action or weird the magic, I was always clear on what was happening. I've heard this mocked as having "weather for a villain," but that was actually a positive point, for me. The climax is "just" the children trying to survive being buried in an avalanche
, but it was very stirring, and I was glad to find that the scope was kept personal. I'm tired of heroes having to save the kingdom, the world, the universe; it's a refreshing change to have them struggle to just save themselves.