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Even the Darkest Stars

[A quick note: I haven’t been this excited to share a book review for some time. But here I am, excited as heck! I’ve been siting on these books for AGES. Why did it take me so long to pick them up?! Isn’t that always the case though? And how cute is my little mini fox?? This is supposed to be “Ragtooth” who is the cutest! Without further ado, here is my review of ETDS!]

“𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐮𝐬𝐡 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥 𝐢𝐭 𝐩𝐮𝐬𝐡 𝐛𝐚𝐜𝐤.” —Heather Fawcett

An atmospheric read set on the snowy slopes of Mount Raksha, where pet dragons are used as floating lanterns, shamans use magic to protect their villages, and a few special people get familiars in the form of animals. Kamzin has always wanted to be an explorer. When her sister is chosen over her for an expedition led by the famous River Shara, she’s determined to prove that she’s the better choice. What follows is an adventurous race through the mountains to reach the highest point in the world, the witch’s sky city. There will be crevasses to cross, mountains to clime, and even a little romance.

I adored this story. AHHH-dored!!! The setting was EVERYTHING! Modeled after the Himalayas and Tibetan culture, the world building was beautiful, atmospheric, mesmerizing. It even reminded me a little of the Winternight Trilogy in terms of the cultural mythology, vibes, writing style, etc. The mountainous setting was my favorite aspect. I don’t read many adventures, but this adventure was GORGEOUS. From the snowy landscape, to the characters, to the challenges they faced, I loved ALL OF IT.

This story stole my heart from the first pages. The encounter within the first couple of chapters between Kamzin and River Shara was PERFECTION. I love the “mistaken identity” trope. It’s soooo fun. It was done perfectly. The conversations shared between Kamzin and River had me LOL’ing. I knew right then, I was going to LOVE this book.

And, of course, a fox familiar??? Uhm. Hello!!! I have a thing for foxes. I adore them. Ragtooth stole my heart immediately. Especially because he was a funky little ball of fluff. Most people couldn’t tell he was a fox, which made him unusually different, and made me love him all the more.

Kamzin’s character was believable for a seventeen year old girl. She’s jealous of her big sister and wants to prove that she can be a great explorer. While her sister is wise and smart, Kamzin acknowledges that she alone has the brute force needed to make it to the top of the mountain when her sister doesn’t. For the first two-thirds of the novel, Kamzin is doing everything she can for glory, to prove herself. But then….things change. When she discovers the reason for the expedition, the need for success, the stakes, what will happen to her village if she doesn’t succeed, she’s got a new reason. Even still, she cares about glory, selfishly. It isn’t until the end that we see a change in her. We see that she’s willing to risk her life to save the ones she loves.

‘“𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐈'𝐝 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐤 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐝𝐬𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐰𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐲𝐚𝐤. 𝐈 𝐝𝐨𝐧'𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐟𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐲 𝐢𝐭 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐭 𝐦𝐞, 𝐢𝐭'𝐬 𝐚𝐬 𝐢𝐟 𝐢𝐭'𝐬 𝐩𝐥𝐨𝐭𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠. 𝐈 𝐝𝐨𝐧'𝐭 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐯𝐞𝐥 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐩𝐥𝐨𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬. 𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐬, 𝐥𝐢𝐚𝐫𝐬, 𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐬, 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭'𝐬 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐫𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐈 𝐜𝐚𝐧'𝐭 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐩𝐥𝐨𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐬.” (River)
“𝐅𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲, 𝐬𝐞𝐞 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐝 𝐦𝐞 𝐚 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝 𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐚𝐱. 𝐈 𝐥𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐞.” (River)
“𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫--” (Kamzin)
“𝐀 𝐲𝐚𝐤 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐭 𝐨𝐧 𝐦𝐲 𝐥𝐚𝐬𝐭 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧. 𝐒𝐧𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐭 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐰𝐨. 𝐃𝐢𝐝 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐫 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐬𝐚𝐢𝐝 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐲𝐚𝐤 𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐟𝐮𝐥𝐥𝐲?”’—Heather Fawcett

And then we have RIVER SHARA. RIVER FREAKING SHARA. Yes. I love a good “bad boy” character. There was so much mystery surrounding him. He does something very early on that has you questioning his…integrity and personality. And at that point, you can’t help but NEED TO KNOW MORE. I began to develop my own suspicions about him early on, and these solidified as the book continued. However, I was NOT prepared for the ending or the twist it took. WOW. Kudos to the author for completely sweeping me off my feet. I closed the book practically hyperventilating.

River and Kamzin’s relationship was confusing, sweet, and frustrating. River did things that had me swooning—like saving Kamzin’s life…twice!! And then he did other things that had me scratching my head. Which, of course, you begin to understand as you learn about what’s going on with his soul and who he is. I can’t wait to see more of him in the second book.

“𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐈 𝐜𝐚𝐦𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐚 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐝. 𝐖𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐥𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐨.
𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐢𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐑𝐚𝐤𝐬𝐡𝐚….𝐈 𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐤𝐞𝐝. 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞, 𝐈 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐈 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐭 𝐣𝐨𝐲, 𝐨𝐫 𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐧𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭, 𝐨𝐫 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐫, 𝐠𝐚𝐳𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐚𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐬𝐨 𝐟𝐚𝐫 𝐚𝐰𝐚𝐲. 𝐈𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐈 𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐭 𝐚 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐟, 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐟𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐝 𝐩𝐮𝐭𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐭 𝐮𝐩 𝐚𝐟𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐚 𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐨𝐫 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚 𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐞. 𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐥𝐞𝐟𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝.” —Heather Fawcett

This story is unique unto itself. I’ve never read another with a setting like it. Inspired, in part, by climbers of Everest. I mean??? Are there any other fantasy stories out there that give a nod to that?! Throw in the magical lore, the characters, including River’s morally gray character, the adventurous plot, and the romance, and you’ve got all the makings of an excellent story! As far as YA goes, this one deserves all the stars. I enjoyed it so much!



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