So it’s late in the day but this review is actually going up on time – hooray! Why is it late? Well this book was a lot longer than I realised but that’s okay, because it was a fantastic, well-rounded story that is the start of a series but could definitely be appreciated as a stand-alone.
I was sent this book to review as part of a blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
⚠️ PTSD, slavery, classism, violence,
an attempted rape scene, sexism, flooding & a panic attack ⚠️
Burn bright and true…
Dumnorix princess and born warrior, Talyn Dynan was the finest fighter of her generation. With her Callanan partner at her side, she was invincible, reckless, a death-knell to their enemies. But after her partner is torn away from her, Talyn is left broken, wracked with guilt and unable to regain the confidence she once had. Could an unexpected mission to the mysterious country of Mithranar, home of the magical winged folk, be the thing that saves her?
The Shadowhawk lives a life in the shadows. Constantly hunted for his criminal exploits, yet desperate to help the human folk of Mithranar who are oppressed by their winged folk rulers, he haunts the streets of Dock City. The arrival of a foreign warrior threatens to upset the carefully balanced life he leads, but when she begins to offer a hope for the humans he’s only ever dreamed of, can he risk trusting her?
And unbeknownst to both, a mysterious foe stalks the dark corners of Dock City. One that answers to a single purpose…
So I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was enjoying this story during the first half, & as this is a 500 page long story, that was a lot of pages of being unsure; however, half way through something changed & I became very deeply involved in the story & began to adore the group of main characters. The fact that I was unsure at first, to me, just shows how well the character development & plot development progressed, & having just finished the book I feel like I read a really clever, well-rounded, hearty fantasy, one which I want to re-read so I can appreciate all its secrets in a new way.
A few days ago I Tweeted asking for books that were army-themed female-led stories & it just so happened that A Tale of Stars & Shadow was at the top of my TBR. Now, when I was thinking about an army book this was not what I had in mind, partly because it’s built within such a strong fantasy world, but slowly I started to notice that the book was giving me a female protag who was committed to pushing herself to her limits, who was incredibly physically capable of looking after herself, & others, & that the book was full of rules & regimented systems that I just seem to really enjoy reading about.
As this book is 500 pages long I can’t really talk about the plot in much detail, but the main thread of the story is based around Talyn getting a bunch of criminals into a fit-enough state to guard a lowly (arrogant, spoilt, rude, brat-ish, etc…) prince. However, this book also has magic, people with wings, assassins & criminals who are hard to make your mind up about. There are also a lot of secrets, many of which I still haven’t figured out. There were lots of different things going on in this story, & the flood was probably the part of the book that changed my opinion on the book the most; the book became very intense very quickly & lots of things that hadn’t seemed relevant before suddenly made a lot of sense. If you do read this book & have doubts like I did, keep going, because it is 100% worth it.
Now if you’re a regular here you’ll know that world building is my kink, but it took me a while to warm to this particular world. However, that didn’t matter because Talyn was all I really cared about. Talyn most definitely suffers from PTSD; she’s wracked with guilt, has a panic attack during the story & has a past that she’s not quite letting the reader in on. I loved her. She was strong & fierce like all our favourite YA heroines, but she was also a little damaged (in her words, broken) & because of my bad mental health patch, I really appreciated that. I liked Talyn from the very beginning & it was her strength, determination & stubbornness that made me continue to read.
I’ve noticed recently that my reviews have been a lot more vague than usual; I think that’s partly because I’ve been unwell but also because I’ve been inundated with books that I just want to shout to the world about. This was definitely one of those books. I’ve read a lot of fantasy books with strong female leads who like to get themselves covered in blood; but the background in this book was totally different from any others I’ve read & the multitude of plots were really unique too.
My review may be a bit rubbish, but this book was not, so please grab a copy (or ask your library to order it in as it is a tad expensive)…
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“Living in Australia’s capital, I’m a self-published author who mostly sticks to novel-length fantasy but occasionally likes to break out with short stories on random things like unicorns and ninjas. When I’m not writing, you might catch me enthusiastically spectating a basketball game (#NewYorkKnick for life!), reading a tonne of books, or…who am I kidding? I spend a lot of time writing!
Whenever you buy a copy of one of my books, you”ll be helping to support One Girl. One Girl is committed to educating 1 million girls across Africa, and I’m SUPER excited to contribute to this vision. Together we’re changing the world, one girl at a time.”
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