The third book in the charming Zero Enigma series has come out. (Christopher G. Nuttall writes at the speed of greased lightning.) This book, The Zero Equation, finishes off the trilogy that follows Caitlyn Aguirre and her adventures at Jude’s Sorcerous Academy, and it does so with both surprise and delight.
At the end of The Zero Curse, our heroine, Caitlyn Aguirre, and her two friends, Rose and Akin Ruben, have escaped from their kidnappers and made their way back home. However, they came back with a secret—or rather Cat did. She now knows details about the fall of the Eternal City, centuries before that no one else in her world knows, a secret that makes her more potentially dangerous than anyone around her could imagine.
But knowing secrets doesn’t really help a young girl with her day to day problems. If anything, her new found position as the only known person able to make Objects of Power—permanent magic items—makes things worse.
For years, it was believed that Cat had magic but just could not access it. Believing this, her parents did not stop her sister from picking on her—casting spells at her that she could not deflect or defend herself from—in the hope that these attacks would trigger her latent magic.
Only Caitlyn does not have any latent magic. So, for years, she was terrorized by a sister who has now become a bully. Her parents feel terrible about this, realizing now that they made a huge mistake.
But her parents’ solution? Telling Cat to try to make friends with her sister.
Being much more powerful than everyone else thought is not a good basis for building a bridge to your bully of a sister.
Nor does it help when she needs to deal with her old rival, Isabella Ruben. Even a trip out at night to raid the kitchens together doesn’t end up helping Cat and Isabella find common ground.
And then the adults start fighting.
Not just a fist fight, mind you. A war breaks out. The students must go about their day, trying to focus on their studies, while outside the safety of the school, their parents are trying to kill each other. Each day new rumors rage that Cat’s parents are dead, that her home have been destroyed. Worse, the House War is spilling over into the hallways of Jude’s, as students break into factions, get into magical brawls, or try to secretly make weapons to aid those outside.
On top of this, Cat and her friends still don’t know who kidnapped them…or why.
I don’t want to say too much more, because there were a number of surprises I don’t want to give away, but I will say that the answer to all the questions turned out to be quite satisfying. Caitlyn continues her clever use of the abilities at her disposal, as we have seen her do in earlier volumes—a thing that Nuttall is particular skilled at.
If there is a fault with this novel, I think it is that the climax scenes felt a little bit rushed. But, even with that, the final conclusion is quite delightful, and if it does not tie up every loose end (more books are planned in the greater background), we certainly leave Cat in a much better place than we first found her.
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