Hello readers! Welcome to my stop on the Harlequin Trade Publishing Winter 2021 Blog Tour for These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy! Thank you to Inkyard Press and the author for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this tour.
Title: These Feathered Flames
Series: These Feathered Flames #1
Author: Alexandra Overy
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: April 20th, 2021 (Inkyard Press)
Synopsis: 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.
Thank you to the publisher, Inkyard Press, and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
As per the tradition of Tourin, when twin heirs are born, their destiny is divined and they are separated at a very young age – one to be the future Queen and the other to be the Firebird, who ensures the balance of magic in the land by claiming a price from those who did . Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she would need to rule and Asya is taken away by her aunt to train to one day take on the powers of the Firebird. When Asya’s power awakens far earlier than expected, it can only mean that the queen is dead. It is time for her to become the new Firebird, and for her sister to be crowned queen. Asya returns to find both her sister and the court much changed. With the coronation being in a matter of days, time is short. Surrounded by scheming courtiers who are waiting for her to fail Izaveta must handle her mother’s death and take over the reins of the kingdom smoothly. And Asya must accept the full responsibilities of a position she has long felt is too brutal and unfair – for if she does not, magic will be thrown out of balance and chaos will follow.
This story is inspired by the Russian folktale of the Firebird, which I have a passing familiarity with, so I was really excited to read this interpretation of it. The world building certainly did not disappoint – there is a lot going on, from magic to history and religion, not forgetting the politics. It didn’t go in as much depth with the descriptions as I would have liked, but there was enough to understand and follow the story, despite how quickly everything moved. It would have been nice though, if the magic system at least, was explained in a little more detail, since the price to be paid for casting a spell and keeping the balance is so integral to the nature of the Firebird, not to mention the Fading of magic in the land and what is bringing it about. The pacing and narration of this book was excellent. The story flowed so well that it didn’t feel like a 500 page book at all, and this can easily be read in one sitting.
Izaveta’s character, while not one I can say I liked, was intriguing. She has been raised in the palace, surrounded by untrustworthy and manipulative people and has had to learn the cutthroat ways of the court to stay a step ahead of everyone – and now, to hold on to her throne. Asya is such a stark contrast to her sister, too trusting, naive and nowhere near ready to take up her role. Her naivety surprised me – she is still a princess, and as Firebird, a powerful symbol whom others would love to try and control. Shouldn’t her aunt have prepared her better, knowing that she would have to return to court at some point?
Objectively speaking, this was a pretty good read and I can certainly appreciate the difficulty of the situations the sisters find themselves in. However, personally, I did not feel very invested in the story or the characters. The characters were interesting, Izaveta’s POVs in particular, but I felt like the story spent just a little too much time getting into Iza and Asya’s thoughts and feelings, hence neglecting other aspects of the story. And despite all the time spent on the character arcs, I still felt disconnected from them and I think a large portion of that is because we don’t get to see what the sisters’ upbringing was like, only what we know from their conversations and inner dialogue. Finally, while I do enjoy political drama in fantasy, I felt like it was a little too much in this one. The ending, with all those unexpected plot twists was well done, but I feel like it’s setting up for even more drama in the sequel which I am still debating whether to read or not.
Overall, though this book didn’t really click for me, it is a solid debut and a promising one. I’m sure there are fantasy readers out there that will enjoy it, so this book is one I would recommend.
These Feathered Flames releases on April 20th, 2021.
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.
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