The action of Mystic City takes place in modern-day Manhattan—but in a city much different than ours today. This Manhattan is a magical, technological marvel. The rich and powerful live in the upper reaches of buildings—known as the Aeries—moving via magical "lightrail," rarely setting foot on the ground. The poor live in the Depths, traveling the flooded roadways and tunnels—a result of global warming—via motorized gondolas, fearing and hating the ruling class.
Mixed with the working class in the Depths are the mystics—those born with magical powers who are monitored and regulated by the city. Even lower than the Depths, below ground in the abandoned subway systems and a network of tunnels, dwell the rebel mystics—who haven't registered with the government and have illegally retained their powers. They live in hiding, waiting until they can overturn the corrupt political system.
A mystic's power is as unique as one's personality. A mystic's power is something he is born with; it is part of who he is. There are no magic wands in this world, and mystic magic cannot be learned or practiced by anyone who is not a mystic.
The magic is a kind of energy centered in the heart. A mystic must monitor his touch—if he does not control himself when he touches a non-mystic, the energy that courses through him is powerful enough to kill. To a human, a mystic's unbridled power is like kryptonite to Superman: the deadliest element in the universe.
The true potential of a mystic is not unleashed until his midteens. Common powers include the ability to heal wounds, create light, produce heat (everything from warming a cup of coffee with a fingertip to starting a full-blown fire instantaneously), as well as the ability to manipulate water and wind.
Some mystics are able to create illusions, to change a solid to a liquid (or something opaque into something completely transparent) and vice versa; some mystics can walk through walls, have super-human strength and speed, while others can use their powers to make magical barriers (called shields) that non-mystics cannot penetrate.
Often times, mystic energy is an "enhancer": mystic-sealed metals cannot be broken, a mystic-made weapon is beyond deadly. More advanced mystics can alter their appearances: Through touch, they can take on the "glamour" of another person for a certain amount of time or transfer their own appearance to another. Some can even manipulate the actions and emotions of non-mystics.
Non-mystics assume that mystics can do everything from fly (they cannot) to breathe underwater (they can, but not for an indefinite amount of time). One thing is certain, however: No mystic can bring someone back from the dead.
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ARIA ROSE: The seventeen-year-old daughter of Johnny and Melinda Rose. Is to marry THOMAS FOSTER, the son of the rival political family in the city. Aria is strong-willed and determined to discover the true reason behind her memory loss.
JOHNNY and MELINDA ROSE: Aria's parents. The head of one of the two dangerous and powerful NYC political families. They are joining forces with their enemies, the Fosters, to fight against the rebel mystics. They are marrying Aria off and having Thomas Foster live under their watch to ensure the Fosters don't turn against them.
KYLE ROSE: Aria's older brother. Actively hates Thomas Foster, and Kyle is not happy that Thomas will be marrying his sister. Has a girlfriend named BENNIE whose family is linked to the Roses. Kyle loves his sister, but ultimately is more devoted to his family's cause.
BENNIE BADINO: Kyle's girlfriend. Is friendly with Aria in a big sister kind of way and is always giving her advice.
CLAUDIA "KIKI" SHOBY: Aria's closest friend. Kiki cares about Aria and believes her marrying Thomas will be good not only for her, but for the entire city. Kiki means well but is unable to think outside the box—she's drunk the Foster and Rose Kool-Aid and lives by their rules.
THOMAS FOSTER: The devastatingly handsome eighteen-year-old son of the rival political family in Manhattan. Thomas secretly oversees the selling of mystic power on the black market. The Roses are requiring him to marry Aria and live under their watch to insure the Fosters won't backstab them. Thomas is secretly dating GRETCHEN MONASTY, and doesn't plan to end their relationship once he's married.
GARLAND FOSTER: Thomas' older brother, who has been selected by the Roses and the Fosters as their mutual candidate for mayor. Similar in looks and demeanor to his brother, Garland is very much a "Daddy's boy," eager to follow in the Foster family footsteps. If Garland is elected, he will continue the oppression of the mystics, and nothing in the city will change.
GRETCHEN MONASTY: Blonde and bimbo-y with a mean streak. Thomas' on-the-side-girlfriend who hates Aria Rose. She continues to hookup with Thomas even during his engagement.
GEORGE and ERICA FOSTER: Thomas' parents and the head of the other dangerous and powerful political family in the city. They agree to marry Thomas to Aria for collateral, and so that Garland can be appointed as the candidate for mayor. However, they think Aria is a "loose cannon" who cannot be trusted.
HUNTER BROOKS: Seventeen, gorgeous, and cunning. Hunter is torn between protecting Aria and preparing for the revolt against her family if his mother loses the election.
VIOLET BROOKS: A dynamic mystic who is running for office. If she wins the election, she will dismantle the corrupt government. Her father, Forrest Brook, also ran for office but was murdered in the Mother's Day Conflagration. Violet wants equality for all. Really, she is the only hope for the mystics and the future of Manhattan.
PATRICK BENEDICT: Works for the government. Turned against his fellow mystics to save himself, and organizes the draining of the mystics' power. But secretly, Patrick is a rebel, slowly working to undermine the Roses and Fosters from the inside.
ELISSA GENEVIEVE: Also works for the government. Heads up the team of mystics who are employed to fish out the rebel mystics who are hiding underground. Elissa tells Aria that she is a double agent, that she is actually working to help the rebel mystics, only this is a lie.
TURK OPANDEO: Hunter's best friend. Along with Hunter, Turk leads a group of young rebel mystics who are beginning to fight back against the oppressive and corrupt government. Turk doesn't necessarily approve of Hunter's relationship with Aria, but he recognizes that his friend is in love, and does what he can to help the couple.
DAVIDA KANE: A servant who lives in the Rose household and has a close relationship with Aria. Believed to be non-mystic, it is revealed in the novel that Davida is actually a mystic who is spying on the Rose family.
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