Orphans of Chaos was described to me as Harry Potter for adults. Students have magical powers, but as a slant, the teachers are actually their enemies. I don't think this comparison does an accurate job of portraying the mood of the book, but it comes close.
Orphans of Chaos - the first of a trilogy of fantasy books by John Charles Wright - takes place in an ambiguously old-fashioned boarding school in the UK, where five teenage students with no memory of their past start to realize their school is a jail, and their teachers are captors. The children stop taking their daily medicines, which awakens their dormant magical powers: each from a different and equally powerful paradigm. They slowly learn that they are hostages in a classic power play. All involved, including their teachers, are gods or servants of heaven. Narrated by one of the children - Amelia Windrose - they embark on a series of adventures to regain their memories, their powers, and escape their fate as political pawns.
The book is written in a somewhat florid style. I enjoyed the pace, which alternates between dialog and adventure. The language and plot elements are evocative of a pseudo-Victorian setting, though we later learn that the book takes place around modern day. All of the adventures and magic are entertaining. Though there may be an overload on the number of minor characters involved, all of the people (gods?) have intriguing backgrounds.
There are a few places where the book falls short. There's not a great continuity on which of the five children are involved in adventures or conversations. The children that are part of the action seem to be selected arbitrarily. Some of the descriptions of magic start out as plausible and easy to follow, and morph into the ridiculous by the end of the paragraph - I think this is done on purpose for comic effect, but I didn't find it very amusing, just annoying. In some places, we're given exposition in a very dense and unlikely format.
But perhaps most of all, I felt the light sexuality too overt and a little disturbing. This may be a credit for some of my readers, but I'm violently opposed to any glorifications of pedophiles in books. We never learn the girls' ages, but we know for sure that they're not women, even if they have the necessary features. And yet, the girls are constantly seducing or are seduced by their teachers. I can handle overtones, but the scenarios - especially towards the end of the book - were constant and served little or no purpose for the story.
I think I will read the rest of the trilogy, just to see how the adventure proceeds. And there's hope for the "bad guys" yet. I can't put a book down until I know for sure whether or not the characters are dynamic. There's a definite attachment for Amelia built up, and though the rest of the children sort of disappear towards the end of the book, I'd like to be reunited with them. The occasional flaws and annoyances are minor enough, and the concept entertaining enough that I'll continue reading. I recommend this book to any fans of young adult fantasy who aren't put off by wordy, moderately-paced stories.