Title: These Feathered Flames
Author: Alexandra Overy
Series: These Feathered Flames #1
Audience: Young Adult
Length: 496 pages
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: April 20, 2021
Recommended for fans of:
Content Warnings: folklore, fairy tales, and mythology; Shadow & Bone; Girl, Serpent, Thorn
A queer retelling of “The Firebird,” a Russian folktale
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.
I really enjoyed this Russian folklore-inspired Firebird retelling about two sisters whose duties have set them on two very different paths, reunited by tragedy and unrest in their queendom. This book is perfect for fans of court politics and scheming, as well as murder mysteries with a magical twist.
The world building was straightforward and easy to understand, but still produced a fully realized magic system and rich histories and legends. I really liked the concept of all magic having a price that must be paid, with the Firebird as the enforcer of balance to protect the world from magical chaos.
This is marketed as a “queer retelling,” but I think that’s a bit of an overstatement. The queer romance is there, but it’s very subtle and doesn’t develop into much. I think that relationship will be further realized in the sequel, but the most important relationship in this book is the one between sisters Asya and Izaveta.
Overall I found this book to be fast paced (a blessing for 500 pages), but it could get a bit repetitive at times. For example, each sister faced multiple, dramatic near-death experiences, and I can’t even count the number of times Asya reached for her weapon only to find she had left it in her room.
I was definitely surprised by many of the twists, and I am already counting down for the sequel!
Thank you to Netgalley and Inkyard Press for the complimentary eARC.