fire and siblings, religious vessels, and bone magic | review corner

by - 5:00 PM


Hello friends! I've been slacking a bit with posting this month on all the platforms but I've been on such a good streak with reading books that are 4+ stars so I'm pulling myself out of a blanket burrito and attempting to coherently share my thoughts. 

pages: 496 | source: netgalley
publication date: April 20, 2021
genre: ya, fantasy, retelling
content warning: violence, depiction of blood

B O O K S H O P *    |    G O O D R E A D S    |    A M A Z O N *


These Feathered Flames is the first of a YA retelling of the Russian Firebird and follows two sisters who were separated at birth and raised to be the queen and the firebird. While the queen is responsible for the politics of the land, the firebird must collect from the people who use magic without proper payment. When Izaveta and Asya's mother dies of mysterious circumstances, they are reunited and must navigate the tumultuous court to solidify their power while deciding if they can trust each other. The plot delves into political intrigue, broken family dynamic, as well as understanding the balance of magic and religion in a land that's slowly falling apart.

I adore Russian folklore retellings and was sold when I heard there was an interesting sister relationship and a sapphic enemies to lovers element. These Feathered Flames is one of those stories that reminded me why I found court intrigue so fascinating. Nobody seemed trustworthy and even the sisters themselves didn't know where they stood with each other. Personally, the plot and world were more compelling to me than the characters themselves which rarely happens, but that just opens up the possibilities for the author to delve more into their development with the sequel. For a debut fantasy, this novel sets the stage for the next chapter of the story and unveils just the beginning of all that Alexandra Overy has planned for Izaveta and Asya. 

ultimate verdict: let the fire burn the traitors

pages: 465 | source: library
publication date: November 17, 2020
genre: ya, fantasy
content warning: religion, some violence

B O O K S H O P *    |    G O O D R E A D S    |    A M A Z O N *

Soulswift was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020 and I even went into the book knowing that I was probably going to cry. And I was still not prepared. In a story that explores the dedication of one's life to religion, Gelya has prepared her whole life to become a vessel for her god and finds herself running from the very people who protected her when she finds herself harboring the essence of Elath, the mother goddess (or demon as the Ovinists call her). With only an enemy solider, Tavik, on her side, Gelya has to find a way to remove Elath's spirit from her body and hopefully avoid setting her world on the path of complete destruction. 

With such a fascinating premise, Soulswift combines religious-political commentary with a classic fantasy travel story. Gelya and Tavik quickly won me over with their banter and contrasting personalities. While Gelya is more anxious and unsure, Tavik is constantly trying to find positives and lighten the atmosphere. I genuinely loved reading about their adventures and would pick up another book just to follow them around. On top of lasting characters, Megan Bannen delves into a conversation about religion's role in oppressing women and other minority groups as well as how blinding religious fervor can be of one's own downfall. This discussion is woven through Gelya's own reflection of what her religion means to her as she learns more about the different interpretations of the neighboring lands. It brings into perspective the harm of erasing other stories with the belief that there's only one right interpretation, the god is pure and the goddess is evil. 

ultimate verdict: things are not what they appear

pages: 496 | source: netgalley
publication date: March 9, 2021
genre: adult, fantasy
content warning: violence, blood, depiction of war

B O O K S H O P *    |    G O O D R E A D S    |    A M A Z O N *

The Bone Maker reminded me why I enjoyed Sarah Beth Durst's previous novels so much because the storytelling is so incredibly immersive. After the defeat of the bone maker Eklor, the heroes of Vos have retired to their separate corners in luxury, family, and madness. The story opens with Kreya, the group's leader, living in exile as she tries to revive her dead husband using illegal bone magic. When her resources are depleted, she turns to her old companions for help in obtaining the remaining bones from the war. The journey that follows reveals more about their battle against Eklor and the disturbing truth that their victory may not have completed the job.

One of the biggest highlights of this novel is the group dynamic and it was made even more endearing and special because these characters have decades of history together. I surprisingly enjoyed reading from the perspective of an older group of heroes (all in their late 30s-40s?) because they had experienced so much of life already and were now called by their own sense of duty to finish what they started. On top of the character relationships, The Bone Maker has such a fascinating magic system and for a fantasy standalone, creates such a fleshed out world for the reader. Combined together, this made the story exciting and addicting to read.

ultimate verdict: jaded warriors must save the day again

If you've read any of these books, please let me know your thoughts! Here are some links/resources to donate, support, and educate yourself on AAPI racism with the horrifying rise in hate crimes as well as in preparation for AAPI Heritage Month in May:

CARDD Resources: https://anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co/
Stop AAPI Hate: https://stopaapihate.org/
Atlanta Shooting Fundraiser: https://www.gofundme.com/c/act/atlanta-area-spa-shootings-fundraisers

*Links with an asterisk are affiliate links where when used, will give me a small commission at no additional costs to the buyer (as of 2/21/21)

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