Hello readers! Welcome to my stop on the Harlequin Trade Publishing Winter 2021 Blog Tour for This Golden Flame by Emily Victoria! Thank you to Inkyard Press and the author for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this tour.
Title: This Golden Flame
Author: Emily Victoria
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: February 2nd, 2021 (Inkyard Press)
Synopsis: Orphaned and forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, Karis wants nothing more than to find her brother, long ago shipped away. But family bonds don’t matter to the Scriptorium, whose sole focus is unlocking the magic of an ancient automaton army.
In her search for her brother, Karis does the seemingly impossible—she awakens a hidden automaton. Intelligent, with a conscience of his own, Alix has no idea why he was made. Or why his father—their nation’s greatest traitor—once tried to destroy the automatons.
Suddenly, the Scriptorium isn’t just trying to control Karis; it’s hunting her. Together with Alix, Karis must find her brother…and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.
Thank you to the publisher, Inkyard Press, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Karis, an orphan, was separated from the last of her family, her brother Matthias when she was brought to the island of Tallis to serve the Scriptorium. After all automatons mysteriously stopped working 200 years ago, the Scriptorium has been working to unlock the secret to awakening the army of machines again. Karis has been on Tallis for years, but has never felt at home or wanted to connect with any of the other orphans with the exception of her best friend Dane. Her main goal has always been to discover where her brother was sent and find out what happened to him. When she stumbles upon an automaton hidden in a cave, she manages to wake it and realizes that Alix, as he introduces himself, is capable of speech, thought, and feeling, something that has always been deemed impossible. With Alix’s help, she is able to obtain information about her brother, but with the Scriptorium now hunting them, both of them must find a way to flee Tallis.
For such a fast paced book, and a standalone at that, the slightly Ancient Greek inspired world-building as surprisingly good. We start off on the small island of Tallis, but as Karis, Alix and Dane’s journey begins, we get hints and glimpses of the world beyond through the crew of the pirate ship. The magic system in this book is a fascinating one, based on runes that need to be activated through a specific ledger, and though I’m still not completely clear on the specifics, it’s a very unique one.
While this book has two perspectives, Karis’ and Alix’s, it was definitely Alix’s journey and arc that held my attention. After a while, it honestly felt like Karis wasn’t doing much and her purpose mainly centered around finding her brother and it got boring quickly. Alix, on the other hand, was such an intriguing POV. I’ve read books before where one of the characters is a robot or an AI, but never one where they had their own POV, and it was very interesting to see Alix’s arc as he questioned his purpose, wondering if he was ever meant to be anything more than a tool or weapon. The secondary characters in this book were really good, Zara, the pirate captain, in particular. It’s obvious pretty early on that there’s more to her story than we’re told, and it would have been great if she had her own POV.
I’m very fond of standalones, and when it comes to the fantasy genre, there aren’t nearly enough nowadays. But this book is one that might have been better as a series. The world is a wonderful one, and quite complex, and a standalone didn’t do complete justice to it. The other reason Karis, who is supposed to be a main character, is largely overshadowed. She is also described as being aroace early on, but the book never really takes the time to explore that further, which is a shame considering that I’ve seen very few aroace characters before in YA fantasy. A sequel might have had the chance to improve Karis’ arc and give us a better idea of her character, while also explaining the magic system a little more clearly.
The ending felt a little forced, in my opinion, and it did leave a few unanswered questions. Overall, This Golden Flame was a fun read and a fast-paced adventure that I enjoyed and I would definitely recommend it for fantasy fans.
This Golden Flame releases on February 2nd, 2021.
About the Author
Emily Victoria lives on the Canadian prairies with her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, works at her public library, and has just finished her Masters of Library and Information Studies.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!