[A quick note: A huge thank you to Inkyard Press for sending me a physical ARC. I was so thrilled to receive a copy. I had to exercise lots of self control not to read this months and months in advance, since I know many publishers prefer the review to be posted closer to the release of the book. Well, I couldn’t wait any longer! So here it is, y’all! Oh, and an we take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous the cover is?!]
“𝗔𝗹𝗹 𝘀𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝘀𝗲𝗲 𝘄𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗶𝘁𝘁𝗹𝗲 𝗴𝗶𝗿𝗹’𝘀 𝗲𝘆𝗲𝘀. 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗴𝗵𝗮𝘀𝘁𝗹𝘆 𝗿𝗲𝗳𝗹𝗲𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗳𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗯𝗶𝗿𝗱 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗺, 𝗹𝗼𝗼𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗴𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗺𝗼𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗼𝘂𝘀. 𝗔 𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝗼𝗳 𝗹𝗲𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗱. 𝗔 𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁, 𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗱𝗮𝘆, 𝗔𝘀𝘆𝗮 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲.”—Alexandra Overy
Magic requires payment. When twin heirs are borne in Tourin, their fates are decided from a young age. Izaveta will remain in the palace learning how to rule, while Asya must become the mysterious firebird to ensure magic remains balanced throughout the world. When the queen suddenly dies, the two sisters are thrust into their roles before they are ready. They must discover who to trust, but more importantly, who killed their mother.
The firebird’s flames burned brightly in this gorgeous fantasy. Princesses preparing to rule a queendom. Court intrigue. The weight of duty. Twin sister bond. Magic that comes at a price. Betrayal. F/F romance. Beautiful world building....I could go on! This has everything that makes today’s YA fantasy books so diverse. Asya is skilled with a blade. She understands what it means to exact a price. While Izaveta wields her mind like a weapon. Both sisters are so different but fundamentally similar. This story was beautiful, full of twists and turns, and so many parallels between two sisters with very different upbringings. It illustrates the lengths they will go to protect each other.
The romance was not what I hoped, but that’s okay. I just like a lot more romance in my books. It was pretty muted in the grand scheme of things. While it is f/f enemies-to-lovers, and enemies-to-lovers is my favorite trope, it just didn’t get much page time. So if you’re looking for a heavier f/f romance....
Can we just take a moment to worship the fact that this is a firebird retelling?! How often do you see this kind of a retelling done so elaborately? The plot was detailed and richly layered. It worked great with the world building. Each sister handled different aspects of the story. Izaveta death with all the politics while Asya dealt with the challenges of being the firebird.
“𝗝𝘂𝘀𝘁 𝗮𝘀 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗺𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝘁𝗮𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗵𝗲𝗿, 𝗜𝘇𝗮𝘃𝗲𝘁𝗮 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗻𝗲𝗱 𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗼 𝗽𝗹𝗮𝘆𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗽𝗶𝗲𝗰𝗲𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝘄𝗻𝗴𝗮𝗺𝗲. 𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝗿 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝘀𝗲, 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗻𝗼 𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗯𝗮𝗰𝗸 𝗻𝗼𝘄. 𝗘𝘃𝗲𝗻 𝗶𝗳 𝘀𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗻𝗼 𝗹𝗼𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗿 𝗰𝗲𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗶𝗻 𝘀𝗵𝗲𝗸𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗱𝗶𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝘄𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗳𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝗳𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗽𝗼𝘄𝗲𝗿.”
I loved the level of political intrigue, so elegantly woven into the pages. The moves in Izaveta political game were often turned into analogies of her playing a form of chess, original to this world. It added so much to the world building. And in parallel with that was the magic and how it always required a price to maintain balance.
“𝗛𝗼𝘄 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗶𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗯𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗼 𝗹𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗮 𝗺𝗼𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿, 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝘀𝗼𝗺𝗲𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝗜𝘇𝗮𝘃𝗲𝘁𝗮 𝗵𝗮𝗱𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗲 𝗼𝗻𝗲? 𝗔 𝗰𝗿𝗲𝗮𝘁𝘂𝗿𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗹𝗱𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝘆 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗺𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿’𝘀 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗽𝘂𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀, 𝗯𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝗯𝗲𝘁𝗿𝗮𝘆𝗮𝗹𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁. 𝗔𝘀𝘆𝗮 𝗺𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗮 𝗺𝗼𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝗯𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗵 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝘀𝗸𝗶𝗻, 𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝗜𝘇𝗮𝘃𝗲𝘁𝗮 𝗵𝗮𝗱 𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗶𝗻 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗵𝗲𝗮𝗿𝘁—𝗶𝗻 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗰𝗲. 𝗦𝗼 𝗺𝘂𝗰𝗵 𝗮 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗵𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝘀𝗵𝗲 𝗻𝗼 𝗹𝗼𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗿 𝗸𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝗵𝗼𝘄 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝗲𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗮𝘁𝗲 𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿.”
And the sister bond! They were taken from each other at a young age and hadn’t seen each other for seven years. In that time, they both changed. They became so different and unique. Each with her own duty. I enjoyed seeing them navigate the challenges of their sister bond. It was clear that they struggled between duty and their love for each other. This added a lot of internal conflict.
“𝗜𝘇𝗮𝘃𝗲𝘁𝗮 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝘄𝗵𝗼 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗱𝗼 𝗮𝗻𝘆𝘁𝗵𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗼 𝗸𝗲𝗲𝗽 𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝘀𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝘀𝗮𝗳𝗲, 𝗻𝗼 𝗺𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝘀𝘁. 𝗡𝗼𝘁𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗯𝗿𝗮𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗼𝗿 𝘀𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗻𝗴𝗲𝗿—𝗰𝗲𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗶𝗻𝗹𝘆 𝗻𝗼𝘁 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀 𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿—𝗯𝘂𝘁 𝗯𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳𝗶𝘀𝗵. 𝗕𝗲𝗰𝗮𝘂𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗲𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗔𝘀𝘆𝗮 𝘀𝘂𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿 𝗵𝘂𝗿𝘁 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝗻 𝘀𝘂𝗳𝗳𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗵𝗲𝗿𝘀𝗲𝗹𝗳.”
The writing was beautiful, evidenced by so many quotes I piled into this review. I love when prose fits elegantly with the plot and story. I had so much fun reading this one. The chapters were short and often switched between each sister, keeping things fresh. The story captured me and I will definitely be reading the next installment. 𝗠𝗬 𝗥𝗔𝗧𝗜𝗡𝗚: 𝟰/𝟱⭐️