Thank you to Inkyard Press and NetGalley for the eARC to read and review! These Feathered Flames goes on sale April 20, 2021.
Genre: Queer Fiction, #OwnVoices, Young Adult Fantasy, Retelling
Series: These Feathered Flames #1
Recommend to Others?: Yes
ABOUT: When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.
But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.
As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.
My Review: These Feathered Flames is a queer, #OwnVoices retelling of a Russian folktale, “The Firebird.” I have never read it but have played the composition of “The Firebird” by Russian composer Igor Stravinsky and love “The Firebird” section in Disney’s Fantasia 2000. So this was an interesting read with a compelling premise. I also appreciate the inclusion of a pronunciation guide.
The world Alexandra Overy has created is a harsh one overflowing with political intrigue and tension you can cut with a knife. Trust is a currency no one can afford unless you know how to play the game. This is especially true for our twin sisters and main characters, Izaveta (the queen to be) and Asya (the new Firebird). The plethora of suspicious characters – most notably the crooked Vibishop Sanislav – made for a great mystery to be solved. Chiefly, bad things kept happening that affected Izaveta’s standing with the cabinet and court.
The sisters had a somewhat pleasant life growing up until age 7 when their worlds drastically changed as taxing, unsympathetic duties were thrust upon them. It became an us against the world kind of situation, which sometimes had the two at odds with one another. It was sad, almost cruel, how the sisters were broken apart and struggled to make sense of who they’d become. Izaveta – cold, calculating, barely hanging on to power/control. Asya – kind-hearted but feared and hated due to the blazing Firebird residing within her. Both became a product of their environments and positions.
I love books with firebirds or phoenixes in them because they are such cool, beautiful magical creatures. In These Feathered Flames, The Firebird’s existence is an interesting dichotomy. The Firebird maintains balance in the world. It also makes sure that the price of using magic is paid, which has caused many to fear and despise the Firebird and whoever is unfortunately chosen to embody it. This is more apparent since the decline of magic in Tóurin (the setting), referred to as The Fading. The lack of magic causes a strain on the queendom because for years it had allowed Tóurin to be a force to be reckoned with.
The beginning I had a hard time getting into the story but was still curious by what was happening. I was invested in Izaveta and Asya’s relationship. For me, things didn’t pick up until almost halfway through (this book is nearly 500 pages so that might be why). By then the story had an iron-clad grasp on my attention. I did not expect the bit of romance to happen in such a bleak place! And all the huge revelations were mind-blowing! Those scenes were intense, pivotal changes to the plot that really spiced things up.The climax was amazing and the fallout left me with tons of questions (in a good way!).
These Feathered Flames is a solid beginning. I think it will only get better as the series progresses.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ALEXANDRA OVERY was born in London, England. Ever since she was little she has loved being able to escape into another world through books. She currently lives in Los Angeles, and is completing her MFA in Screenwriting at UCLA. When she’s not working on a new manuscript or procrastinating on doing homework, she can be found obsessing over Netflix shows, or eating all the ice cream she can.
THESE FEATHERED FLAMES: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19571930.Alexandra_Overy