I am so excited to be able to participate in this tour today! I received an e-ARC from Inkyard Press through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review and so when I saw this tour was open, I knew I had to sign up. This book was so amazing and good, I’m so glad I can help promote it!
Be sure to check out the other tour posts this week and see all the amazing reviews and Instagram posts. You can find the tour schedule here.
I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review. This is an honest, spoiler free review and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy
Published: April 20, 2021
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Genre: YA Fantasy
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.
To be honest, I don’t know the original tales of the Firebird, though I have read other books which include similar stories or the creature itself. I believe its mentioned in Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco, though as a physical bird rather than a mythical energy trapped inside of a conduit. Though I was unaware of the original stories, I was still so excited to read this book, especially as a queer retelling. And after that ending I can’t wait for the next book!
Most people feared the forest. Stories of monsters that lurked in Its depths, witches who lured unsuspecting children in and tore out their hearts. But to Asya it had always felt safe, the gnarled trunks and rustling leaves were like old friends.
When we first meet Asya, she is following her aunt, the current Firebird, as they follow a Calling. The duty of the Firebird is to keep the balance between magic and the world. If someone uses magic and does not pay the proper price, the Firebird must take what was not given to rebalance the world. I thought it was really cool how they show Asya training under her aunt, preparing her for the day the power would be hers, especially since Asya is not only uncomfortable with the Firebird’s power but is against the entire thing in general. As someone who thinks the power is cruel, it’s ironic she is to be the next Firebird.
It was all a part of the game, not a true display of devotion to the queen. That was all anything was in court, an elaborate game of exploitation where loyalty was no more than another card to play
Then we meet Izaveta, the other twin set to become Queen, who only wants to make her mother proud and will do anything to emulate her. Everything is a game and every word is a lie. There are no trustworthy people in court, even her own Mother, who uses her own words and actions against her. Yet, when we get to see Iza in a more intimate moment, we can tell she hates the constant games and always having to ensure she is ten steps ahead. Especially once her Mother passes and she has to fight to prove herself during the twelve days of mourning before she is coronated and becomes Queen. I loved the dichotomy between the two sisters. Both who care so much and have to hide it, yet their circumstances are so different.
Information was the most powerful weapon in the court, and when facing her mother, Izaveta needed to be well armed.
I honestly really loved the story told by each sister. It helped not only understanding what each is thinking and feeling, but how their actions affect each other. I love seeing the two sides of a story play out simultaneously. One of my favorite things was moving from Asya to Izaveta’s perspective when the Firebird appeared. How Asya feels when it emerges versus what other people see as it’s happening. It’s so terrifying to think of the large mythical creature emerging as a column of flames and devouring those who need to pay a price or try to harm it.
A deep chill that seeped into her bones. Her mother would always win these games when she set all the parameters. So if Izaveta wanted to outmaneuver her, she would have to find a way to change the rules.
One thing I wasn’t a fan of though, was the lack of time we had with Asya and Yulianna. As her personal guard, Yulianna grows to care for Asya and Asya cares for her. I wanted more time to see that affection grow between them instead of the hate to love that we do see in this book. From the ending though, it seems like we will be getting a sequel, so I hope we can get more time with the two and see how their relationship continues to grow. Besides that though, everything about this book was so fantastic. Going back to reread some of my favorite quotes made me realize that this is a book I could re-read over and over again, which is not something I feel often with books.
Roiling under the weight of the firestone, the flames that had burst through her. Not devouring, she now realized, but remaking. Melding with her and forging her into something new. A creature that now lived beneath her skin.
Overall, I loved this book. From the first sentence I was excited to read this and had trouble putting it down. I knew that once I put it down, I couldn’t pick it back up again unless I knew I was going to be able to sit and read for a while. Everything about this book is so captivating from the plot, to the imagery, to the characters themselves and I loved watching the pieces fall into place and the story build. This is definitely a favorite of mine and I can’t wait for more!
Her aunt was no longer the Firebird. And there was only one reason that power would transfer to Asya now. Only one reason for that creature to rear up inside her. Her mother was dead, and a new queen had to be crowned.
Alexandra grew up in London and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her
undergraduate degree in history at UCLA. She then went on to compete her MFA in screenwriting also at UCLA, and stuck around for the weather and great ice cream. She loves writing in all formats, from novels to screenplays to graphic novels, always centring on fierce women and morally grey characters, often with a bit of magic and murder. When she’s not writing, she can be found baking, fangirling over her favourite books, or cuddling her kittens.