This isn't usually my go to type of book but The slice of life theme was a nice change from the action based fantasy books I tend to go for.
For me, the imagination that went into the world building was the high point of this book. The way Riddle describes the town of Balam is so unique. From the graceful waterfalls to the dazzling beauty of the yunesca tree, the world is brought to life and paints a stunning picture for the reader.
Another highlight was the characters. We follow Ryckert, a Rocyan whose plan to retire comes to a crash as he starts to investigate the suspicious death of the former white mage. Aava, who is a fresh graduate from a nearby university is Sent to temporarily take over the duties of the towns white mage whilst a permanent replacement is found. And lastly, the high school teacher, Theo. Now if I'm being honest I wasn't too fussed on Theo. Despite being an important character, I found him to be quite flat and mundane which is a shame as he's an important part. A character that I really liked and was probably my favourite was michio. A black mage that was kicked out of the university for an unknown reason. He's a mute that communicates via pen and paper which I thought was pretty cool in a weird way.
Now that I've mentioned Aava and Michio, you're probably wondering about the magic system. Well even if you're not I'm going to tell you anyway. There are white mages and black mages but both are quite similar to each other. Both study at universities in whatever subject they've chosen to study. Spells are cast using hand symbols and movement. There is a different type of magic which is deadly so it was banned centuries ago. I won't go too much into that for fear of spoiling it but I will say this, the magic system is one of most intriguing I've come across.
My only criticism would be how long it took for the plot to actually kick in. The first half of the book concentrates on introducing characters and their lives. There were parts when I didn't really know where the story was going. But I decided to stick with it and was treated to a heart-warming ending that was also heart wrenching at the same time. Trust me, stick with it and you'll see what I mean.
I want to thank Travis M. Riddle for reaching out and providing me with a copy of Balam, Spring. I look forward to reading more of your work.