The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson has been on my radar for years, but I never got around to picking it up. In all honesty, the cover just never worked for me (and yes, I know there is a saying about that. But I might have picked the book up sooner, if the U.S. used the UK cover). However, recently this was recommended to me by a patron so I finally decided to give it a go. It was fantastic!
Joel is obsessed with Rithmatics (the magic of chalk drawings that can provide defenses and result in physical attacks), but you have to be chosen as a Rithmatist for your chalk drawings to have any power, and Joel wasn’t. He is able to score a research project with Rithmatic Professor Fitch for a summer elective though. Melody was chosen, and wishes she wasn’t; poor lines and lack of interest result in remedial studies with Professor Fitch. But as summer starts, Rithmatic students are going missing, and Professor Fitch is working with the police inspector, providing Rithmatic research for the case, which soon means Joel (and eventually Melody) are also working on the case.
In a well crafted universe, Sanderson‘s story is a fun fantastical mystery, complete with missing people, a larger conspiracy, and exciting duels, all while Joel and Melody try to figure out their places within Rithmatics. Getting excited over moving chalk drawings seems a bit far fetched at first, but by the end I was completely immersed in it (plus as chalkling attacks are described, death by chalkling sounds like a horrific way to go).
The worst part? This book came out in 2013. A sequel is planned, but a release date still hasn’t been set!