These Feathered Flames by Alexandra Overy
Two sisters must navigate political scheming, dying magic, secret societies, and a nation on the brink of war in order to claim their throne and restore magic to the world.
I absolutely loved this novel. It was smart, fresh, and enchanting. The author did a stellar job with world-building. The story takes place in a Russian-reminiscent land of dying magic in which people travel by bear and a firebird demands retribution for irresponsibly used magic. I was instantly drawn into this world and found myself committed to the land and the people, hoping to unravel the secrets before they were revealed. I finished this book a week ago and can still vividly recall the world.
The book is largely character-driven and each character, even the side characters and antagonists, were well-developed. The sisters, Izaveta and Asya, have been raised independently and each struggle with the brutality of their upbringings and the expectations of their political roles. The side characters and love interests were equally compelling and constantly kept me on edge as I tried to determine their loyalty.
Though I loved the heartfelt, complicated, and gripping relationship between the sisters, my favorite relationship was a f/f enemies to lovers storyline. In YA novels especially, I love LGBTQ+ relationships that are offered without social commentary or scandal. The characters in this novel grew together and developed feelings for each other, and they were able to act on those feelings without facing judgment from others. I think this kind of representation is so important and I will enthusiastically hand it to teens at the library based on this storyline alone.
Readers who love more plot-driven stories might find the first third of this book to lag as the characters are developed and the intrigue is set. But, the last 2/3 of the book move briskly and are packed with action, intrigue, and character growth. There is something for everyone to enjoy in this lush, immersive, and inventive story. I am anxiously awaiting the sequel and cannot wait to share this with library patrons.
Have you read this one? What did you think?